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IHR History Lab’s annual conference Friday 19 July 2024

The Institute of Historical Research’s History Lab is pleased to announce that its annual conference will take place on Friday 19th July 2024. We invite postgraduate researchers (MAs by research and PhD students), early career researchers, and established academics based in UK institutions in history and all related disciplines to submit abstracts for 20-minute papers or 5-10-minute lightning talks. We encourage interdisciplinary approaches and welcome proposals on all historical periods on the theme of: 

'Objects and Identity: Exploring Cultural Significance on Material Culture, History and Identity’

This conference seeks to foster insightful discussions and research on the profound influence of material objects on the course of history and the formation of societies and their cultural identities. The theme invites scholars from diverse academic fields to examine the relationship between material culture and personal and collective identities within historical contexts. 

The conference aims to explore various facets of the theme, including but not limited to:

  • Material culture and cultural history: Investigating how material objects are not only products of society but also instrumental in shaping its cultural history and identity.
  • Embodied History: Digging into how history is embodied in the design and context of everyday objects, revealing the nuances of their historical significance.
  • Texts and objects in modern times: Examining the contemporary reception and interpretation of texts and objects, shedding light on their evolving role in shaping modern cultural identities.

Keynote Speakers

‘Recovering Materiality from Paper Repositories: Photos, Pamphlets, Playgrounds’
Ben Highmore

Ben Highmore is Professor of Cultural Studies in the School of Media, Arts, and Humanities at the University of Sussex. His most recent book is Lifestyle Revolution: How taste changed class in late twentieth century Britain (2023). Previous books include The Art of Brutalism: Rescuing hope from catastrophe in 1950s Britain (2017) and Cultural Feelings: Mood, mediation, and cultural politics (2017). His book Playgrounds, the experimental years is coming out with Reaktion Books in September 2024.

Leonie Hannan
Leonie Hannan is a Reader at Queen’s University Belfast and a social and cultural historian. Her first monograph, Women of Letters: Gender, writing and the life of the mind in early modern England (Manchester, 2016), explored themes of gender, the home and intellectual life. Her more recent work has focused on the home as a site of scientific exploration for the many and is the subject of her second monograph: A Culture of Curiosity: Science in the eighteenth-century home (Manchester, 2023). Hannan has also written about methods for material culture research in history.

Material Culture Exhibition
Led by Bishops Gate archivist Stefan Dickers, who has actively built a collection of material items of significant for the LGBTQ+ community, we are encouraging all conference attendees to bring an item of material culture to share.

Conference Venue: IHR Wolfson Room NB01, Basement, IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Abstract Submission Deadline: 29 March 2024

Conference registration opens: 01 April 2024

Please submit abstracts (300 words maximum) with a short bio to with the email title: History and Material Culture Conference, and for any questions, contact the conference convenors at (Maxine Beuret) and (Adeola Eze).