International Research School in Conceptual History and Political Thought



Introduction to Conceptual History

ORGANISER: The University of Helsinki , see below
DATES: 4-20 August 2009
PRICES: Read more  (This link leads away from Concepta pages)
COORDINATOR: Mr. Sami Syrjämäki, sami.syrjamaki(at)

INFORMATION ON HOW TO APPLY ETC. See Helsinki Summer School -pages.

DOWNLOAD the required readings list.

The presumption that concepts are timeless has been replaced in recent decades by an awareness of their unavoidable historicity and temporality. Based on methods proposed by scholars such as Reinhart Koselleck and Quentin Skinner, which focus on the use of language in an historical context, conceptual history serves as an innovative and rigorous approach to the analysis of key social and political concepts. The goal of conceptual history is to illuminate the concepts and ideas that are central to the operation of political and social life through the study of their migration, reception, translation and diffusion through time and space.

In the summer of 2009, Concepta, International Research School in Conceptual History and Political Thought, and its partner institutions will organise the fifth Introduction to Conceptual History summer school. An international team of distinguished scholars and visiting lecturers will help participants critically examine the chief concepts in the humanities and social sciences from new perspectives. The summer school has two main objectives. First, it introduces students to the fundamental aspects of the theory and methodology of conceptual history, which they can then use as tools in their own research. Second, it explores contemporary trends in conceptual history through case studies.

The course includes a series of lectures, a seminar and workshops. It is designed for Finnish and international PhD and advanced Master’s degree students from various academic fields. Interest in the humanities and/or political thought is an asset.

Successful completion of the summer school will require attending the lectures, seminar and workshops, and the completion of a written assignment. In order to receive 6 ECTS credits, students must actively participate in the course and write a 10-15 page essay. Students who wish to receive 10 ECTS credits must submit a 20-25 page essay in addition to active participation. All essays should be submitted to the organisers approximately one month after the end of the summer school. Participants are encouraged to contact the organisers if they would like to present their own work-in-progress in conceptual history and related fields in the workshops.


Concepta, International Research School in Conceptual History and Political Thought

Centre for Nordic Studies (CENS) at the Renvall Institute, University of Helsinki

POLITU, Finnish Political Science Doctoral School

Centre of Excellence in Political Thought and Conceptual Change, University of Jyväskylä

NCoE Nordwel

Danish Research School in History

Please direct any questions concerning the content of this course to the Coordinator, Mr. Sami Syrjämäki: sami.syrjamaki(at) Any questions concerning the general arrangements (accommodation, scholarship, etc.) should be addressed to the Summer School's office at

A lot of usefull information about Helsinki can be found at:

Course Programme




Tue 4 August


Rector’s Reception


Wed 5 August

9 – 10  Opening Session Henrik Stenius and Sami Syrjämäki

10 – 12 The History of Concepts  and Intellectual History Martin J. Burke

13 – 15 Introduction to Conceptual History I. Jan Ifversen

15.30 – 17 Introduction to Conceptual History II. Jan Ifversen


Thu 6 August

10 – 12 Doing Conceptual History: Diachronic and Synchronic Studies Jan Ifversen

13 – 15 Methodology Jan Ifversen

15.30 – 17 The History of Concepts and the Cambridge School Martin J. Burke


Fri 7 August

10 – 12 Beyond BG: Handbuch and the French School Jan Ifversen

13 – 15 The History of Concepts and the History of Ideologies Martin J. Burke

15.30 – 17 The Sources for Conceptual History Martin J. Burke and Jan Ifversen




Mon 10 August

10 – 12 Bielefeld or Cambridge? Jyväskylä and New York Martin J. Burke

13 – 15 Alumni lecture: Begriffsgeschichte and a Lacanian Theory of Ideology. Possibilities for Cobination and Sites of Contradiction. Christoffer Kølvrå

15.30 – 17 Work–in–Progress Workshop Chair: Jan Ifversen

Tytti Erästö: The Concept of the Outlaw State

18 – Course Reception at the Renvall Institute, Russian room, Unioninkatu 38.


Tue 11 August

10 – 12 Work–in–Progress Session  Chair: Martin J. Burke

Ronald Kroeze: The Concept of Corruption and the Neoclassical Approach

13 – 14:30 The Parliamentary Paradigm of Dissensus. On the historical links and discrepancies between procedure, government and eloquence in parliamentary politics Kari Palonen

14:30-16 Alumni lecture: Alumni lecture: Citizenship and Democracy in the late Eighteenth Century. Applying Conceptual History to Political Thought  Mart Rutjes


Wed 12 August

10 – 12 The Finnish Project – a Contribution to Conceptual History Henrik Stenius and Jani Marjanen

13 – 14:30 Alumni Lecture: A multifacet concept of international friendship  Evgeny Roschin

14:30 – 16 Alumni Lecture: Changing concepts of dependence: the emergence of humanitarian development  Diana van Vugt


Thu 13 August

10 – 12 Conceptual History and Theory João Feres Júnior

13 – 16 The Study of Asymmetrical Counter Concepts – a conversation with Postcolonial Theory João Feres Júnior


Fri 14 August

10 – 12 Workshop (based on required reading) João Feres Júnior

13 – 16 Work–in–Progress  Session Chair: João Feres Júnior




Mon 17 August

10 – 12 Collective Practices – The Example of the Dutch Project Pim den Boer

13 – 16 Transnational Concepts and the Comparative Approach Pim den Boer


Tue 18 August

10 – 12 Comparing British and Continental Political Cultures through the Rhetorical and Conceptual Analyses of Parallel Parliamentary Genres Pasi Ihalainen


NOTE: Room changes. New room is in the same building, top floor on the other "old" side: auditorium XVI

13 – 16 Work–in–Progress Session Chair: Pim den Boer

Irina van der Vet: Securitization in Security Council: Morality or Self-interest


Wed 19 August, note that the room changes! New room is Porthania P673

10 – 12 Work–in–Progress Session Chair: Pim den Boer and Martin J. Burke

Tatjana Khripachenko: "Finnish Question" and the concept of Non-Sovereign State.

13 – 16 Conclusion and Conspectus: Beyond  Histories of Concepts?  Pim den Boer and Martin J. Burke



Thu 20 August

10 – 16  Seminar: Contemporary Trends in Conceptual History  (Porthania P673)


10 - 11 Norber Götz: Why so Negative? The conceptual history of NGOs.
11 - 12 Margrit Pernau: Translations and entanglementsbreak
13 - 14 Sinai Rusinek: Conceptual Rheology
14 - 15 Sami Syrjämäki: What a conceptual historian can do with W.B. Gallie's essentially contested concepts?