Institute of Historical Studies
Institute of Historical Studies

IHS examines “Genealogies of Freedom” at Annual Conference, April 11-12

Sat, March 2, 2019
IHS examines “Genealogies of Freedom” at Annual Conference, April 11-12
Photo credit below.

Story by Kazushi Minami Ph.D Candidate, History, UT Austin

This April, the Institute for Historical Studies will convene local and international scholars to examine the theme of “freedom,” building upon the inherent tension and historical instability of the word, and treating this as an intellectual and political problem of considerable interest to our world today.

“The conference will gather preeminent scholars and intellectuals who will point to how understandings of freedom have changed over time and across space, looking in particular at the Francophone world and Europe, Asia, Latin America, the US and Middle East,” explains conference organizer Benjamin Claude Brower, Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin. “The conference seeks a rigorous historicization of the notion of freedom across many different contexts, a historicization that can provide answers to the slippery place freedom occupies in contemporary political discourse.”

“Genealogies of Freedom” will showcase the scholarship of two dozen leading historians and scholars of Geography, Anthropology, Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, African and African Diaspora Studies, Asian Studies, South Asian Studies, and Legal Studies, including:

Enzo Traverso, the Susan and Barton Winokur Professor in the Humanities at Cornell University, will keynote the two-day event on Thursday afternoon, with a talk entitled "The Twisted Path of Freedom: A Historical Perspective."

In addition, this year’s conference includes a film component. LET THEM COME (2015, Algeria, with English subtitles) depicts Algeria’s “dark decade” of the 1990s, when the country entered into a torturous civil war, which was most often a war on civilians. The film was directed by Salem Brahimi and produced by Michèle Ray Gavras and Costa Gavras (the celebrated director of Z, 1969). Due to limited seating, the film is by invite only. Watch the trailer here, and read more here.

The conference begins Thursday, April 11, at 8:45am, with welcome remarks by Jacqueline Jones, Chair and Professor of the UT History Department, and Miriam Bodian, Professor and IHS Director. UT History doctoral students Dillon Savage, Tiana Wilson, Christopher S. Rose, Anuj Kaushal, and Paula O’Donnell, will bring their respective expertise to serve as Panel Chairs. The two-day event concludes at 12:15pm on Friday, April 12.

Register to attend “Genealogies of Freedom,” taking place at the Glickman Conference Center in RLP 1.302B, on UT campus, and learn more about this event by following us on Twitter, and liking us on Facebook. For queries about the conference, please contact

IHS thanks these generous co-sponsors who helped make this event possible: the Center for European Studies, LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, South Asia Institute, Department of French and Italian, Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, and the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy.

Photo Copyright: Benjamin C. Brower. Sculpture commemorating the life of street vendor Mohammad Bouazizi, who self-immolated on December 17, 2010, initiating the Tunisian uprising and eventually the Arab Spring.

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