Call for papers: ‘Renaissance Care’ at RSA San Juan 2023

The Lise Meitner Research Group “Decay, Loss, and Conservation in Art History” at the Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History solicits abstracts for a paper session to be held at the 2023 Renaissance Society of America (RSA) Annual Meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico.




This session looks at how people and communities in early modernity cared for objects that mattered to them. It aims at moving beyond restoration and treatment, examining instead a broader set of material and immaterial practices aimed at securing and maintaining the object’s well-being. These might include (but are not limited to) acts of physical or symbolic protection and repair; rites of consecration, inauguration, and restitution; as well as what we nowadays describe as preventive conservation, risk management, environment control, and boundary maintenance. Our attention therefore extends to spaces of deposit, storage, and concealment, away from those sites of display (the gallery, the cabinet, the studiolo) that have been the focus of much art-historical research.


The session seeks to contribute to the growing contemporary discourse on the ethics and politics of care by making space for a longer historical analysis of these practices, articulating their differences and exposing where they come into conflict with one another. In examining “Renaissance Care”– who gives care, to what, and for what reasons – we also seek to explore the extent to which caring practices are defined in response to the object’s endangerment, especially in times of conquest or conflict.


We invite papers focusing on European and Colonial contexts and welcome proposals in both Spanish and English.

Please email a 150-word abstract and a brief CV to before August 1, 2022.

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