Welcome to the website of the History of Concepts Group! Founded in 1998, the HCG is dedicated to the promotion of research and research training in the history of concepts.


This is done through three main activities:

  • A yearly conference
  • The publication of the journal Contributions to the History of Concepts (2006-2009 with Brill, since 2010 with Berghahn Publishers)
  • The training of young scholars in two summer schools, one in Helsinki and one in Latin America (rotating sites) and in research seminars.

On this website, you will find extensive bibliographic resources to kick-start your conceptual history project. We welcome information about new publications and events related to conceptual history.



In June, 1998, two eminent political scientists, Melvin Richter, of the City University of New York, and Kari Palonen of the University of Jyväskylä, organized a conference on “Conceptual Changes in European Political Cultures” at the Finnish Institute in London. Henrik Stenius, the director of the Institute, served as the host. That meeting brought together scholars from fourteen nations to discuss ongoing collaborative projects on social and political concepts in such places as the Netherlands, Finland, France, Denmark, and the Soviet Union, and to listen to a variety of empirical and methodological presentations on related matters. Informing many of the reports and exchanges were the relatively recently completed volumes of the Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe—or GG for short—edited by Otto Brunner, Werner Conze and Reinhart Koselleck.


Underlying the conference were arguments made by Richter and Palonen about the possible convergence of German Begriffsgeschichte and the so-called “Cambridge School” approach(es) to the historical study of political thought. Both Reinhart Koselleck and Quentin Skinner attended the conference and contributed to its wide-ranging empirical and methodological exchanges. At the conference’s close, those present agreed to form an international network which would meet regularly, publish a newsletter, and develop an archive of projects and proposals, as well as interviews with, and critical reflections by, those who were taking part in them.


Thus was created the History of Political and Social Concepts Group.

Recent Publications

Latest Issue of the Contributions to the History of Concepts

Volume 16 (2021): Issue 2 (Dec 2021)


Jani Marjanen, Johan Strang und Mary Hilson (eds.): Contesting Nordicness - From Scandinavianism to the Nordic Brand (2022)

open access


Francisco A. Ortega, Rafael Enrique Acevedo Puello, Pablo Casanova Castañeda (eds.): Horizontes de la historia conceptual en Iberoamérica. Trayectorias e incursiones (2021)

see further


Kari Palonen: Politik als parlamentarischer Begriff -

Perspektiven aus den Plenardebatten des Deutschen Bundestags (2021)

see further


Javier Fernández Sebastián: Historia conceptual en el Atlántico ibérico - Lenguajes, tiempos, revoluciones (2021)

see further


Silke Schwandt (ed.): Digital Methods in the Humanities - Challenges, Ideas, Perspectives (2020)

open access





Berghahn Series

European Conceptual History

Editorial Board:

Michael Freeden, University of Oxford

Diana Mishkova, Centre for Advanced Study Sofia

Javier Fernández-Sebastián, Universidad del País Vasco, Bilbao

Willibald Steinmetz, University of Bielefeld

Henrik Stenius, University of Helsinki



The transformation of social and political concepts is central to understanding the histories of societies. This series focuses on the notable values and terminology that have developed throughout European history, exploring key concepts such as parliamentarianism, democracy, civilization, and liberalism to illuminate a vocabulary that has helped to shape the modern world.

Contact Us

The History of Concepts Group

Martin J. Burke (The Graduate Center, City University of New York)



Contributions to the History of Concepts



Subscription and Membership

To subscribe to Contributions to the History of Concepts and become a member of the History of Concepts Group, please visit the subscription page over at Berghahn Journals.




Social Media

Jussi Kurunmäki (Södertörn University)