Appel à contributions : “Trust in the Premodern World”, Oxford, University of Oxford, date limite le 9 septembre 2022
Trust is a fundamental part of human relationships. The choice of who a merchant might give their large investment to, the careful language used by rulers to communicate and discuss tense diplomatic issues, the ways in which law codes and local customs were understood and perceived, can all be seen to rely on trust. The constant construction and variation of trust also means that it frequently breaks down. A breakdown in trust may be seen in the courts, as a dispute between neighbours, or in a diplomatic letter, full of threatening language.
Yet the role trust has played in the past, until recently, has been often overlooked. Trust needs to be examined as historically dependent and multifaceted, as it is constantly subject to change. Trust has frequently been a part of studies of past relationships and institutions, though normally not the central focus. We want to make it the lens through which the past is studied, to create conversations about the ways in which we might study trust, trusting relationships, and distrust in the past. This line of thinking builds on formative works such as Forrest’s Trustworthy Men: How Inequality and Faith Made the Medieval Church, Schulte, Mostert, and van Renswoude’s Strategies of Writing: Studies on Text and Trust in the Middle Ages, Forrest and Haour’s article ‘Trust in Long-Distance Relationships, 1000-1600’, and Muldrew’s The Economy of Obligation: The Culture of Credit and Social Relations in Early Modern England.
Trust in the Premodern World aims to explore the construction, maintenance and breakdown of trust and trusting relationships of various forms. It seeks to uncover the ways in which trust and distrust in the past may have affected people’s choices and how the study of trust today might uncover new facets of life in the past, as well as offering valuable perspectives on life in the present.
The multifaceted nature of trust also makes this conference an interdisciplinary one – focusing on any one lens to study trust in the past would be too simplistic. Contributions are encouraged to utilise various methodologies, approaches, sources, and theoretical bases and focus on a very wide geographical and chronological span. We hope that this will allow us to more fully consider the ways in which trust in the past can be studied and foster wide discussion between the participants.
Topics may include (but are not limited to):
Trust in institutions.
Trust in writing.
Trusting relationships between and within groups such as merchants, pilgrims, diplomats, scholars.
Diplomatic relationships and trusting language.
Credit as a form of trust.
Trust language and trust actions.
The impact of socio-economic background and gender on relationships of trust.
Theoretical approaches to studying concepts of ‘trust’ and ‘trustworthiness’ in the pre-1800 past.
To submit a 20-minute paper, please send an abstract of maximum 250 words and a short biography of the author to
Applications welcome from researchers at all levels.
Application deadline: 9 September 2022
Confirmation of accepted papers by 20 September 2022
Follow the conference on twitter @PremodernTrust