The Swiss Rural History Society and the Archives of Rural History in Bern welcome all the participants to the Rural History 2013 conference of the European Rural History Organisation (EURHO) ), the organisation launched at the Rural History 2010 conference organised by the British Agricultural History Society in 2010 in Brighton. Rural History 2013 reflects the various roads which rural history writing has taken over the last two decades in Europe and elsewhere. Contributions from virtually every country in Europe as well as from Africa, Asia and the Americas are one feature of the conference whilst others include the wide variety of topics as well as the range of methodologies and theories.
While Rural History 2013 is in many ways the culmination of the numerous new initiatives launched by rural historians since the early 1990s, it by no means marks the conclusion of this most welcome and exciting process. In two years’ time the participants of Rural History 2015 will be able to drawn on the insights gained at the conference here in Bern.
The organisers and the scientific committee of Rural History 2013 aim to provide insight into the state of the art of rural history today. Further, we seek to strengthen the various developing networks and cooperative projects of rural historians and their institutions. We have little doubt that the more than 300 participants of the conference will advance our aspirations. The keynote lectures offer an opportunity for rural historians to reflect on their own activities. While in the first of the three sessions the promise and the constraints of English as the lingua franca of rural historians are discussed, the second one highlights some of the results of the journey taken by rural history in the last few years. And the third session focuses on film, a so far underutilised source by rural historians.
A conference of this size can only be executed with the help of a great number of people over a long period of time. On behalf of the Archives of Rural History and the Swiss Rural History Society I would like to thank Claudia Schreiber, Martina Ineichen, Nathalie Bardill, Martin Stuber, Anne-Lise Head and Thomas Schibli for their enormous commitment to the success of this meeting. Michael Moser designed and produced the Conference Book and Peppina Beeli and Stefanie Kohler from the Swiss Society for History and Catherine Glover and Richard Hoyle from the British Agricultural History Society shared with us their valuable expertise in organising large conferences. I also wish to offer thanks to all members of the Management Committee of EURHO, who had the confidence to hold the first conference of the new organisation in a country where – at least so far – rural history has not figured among the most popular academic disciplines. If Rural History 2013 makes even a small contribution towards changing that, the whole project will have been all the more worthwhile.
Chairman Scientific Committee