23rd April 2015

‘Imitation, Contagion, Suggestion: Rethinking the Social’

Conference at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark 28–29 May 2015

The imagery of imitation, contagion, and suggestion, which played a key role in the formative years of the social sciences at the end of the nineteenth century, has gained renewed foothold in much present-day popular and scholarly discourse. In debates about financial markets, for example, there has been a widespread adoption of the notion of contagion to account for the recent financial crisis, linking the alleged contagiousness of crises to ideas about pandemics. Similarly, much recent social and political theory harks back to this discursive repertoire in an attempt to come to terms with new forms of populism, or in order to rethink politics and the political. Against this backdrop, the aim of the ‘Imitation, Contagion, Suggestion: Rethinking the Social’ conference is threefold, namely, first, to explore the historical contexts in which the social sciences started to deploy this vocabulary; second, to examine how this vocabulary evolved in the social sciences, and beyond, from the late nineteenth century to the present; and third, to discuss if this conceptual horizon could, and should, be revived in a present-day theoretical and analytical context (and what that might entail). By scrutinizing these issues, the conference will shed important light on the revival of the imagery of imitation, contagion, and suggestion.

Speakers include: Lisa Blackman (Goldsmiths, University of London), Christian Borch (Copenhagen Business School), Andrea Mubi Brighenti (University of Trento), Elisabetta Brighi (University of Westminster), Kristian Bondo Hansen (Copenhagen Business School), Nidesh Lawtoo (Johns Hopkins University), Ruth Leys (Johns Hopkins University), Peta Mitchell (Queensland University of Technology), Robert Peckham (University of Hong Kong), Marc Renneville (CNRS, Center A. Koyré, History of Science and Technology, Paris), Bjørn Schiermer (University of Copenhagen), and Sebastian Vehlken (Leuphana Universität Lüneburg).

For further information see this poster.