Workshop | Historical Futures: Apprehending the Past and Anticipating the Future

Workshop | Historical Futures: Apprehending the Past and Anticipating the Future

Wednesday, 27th October 2021, HI Seminar Room (H204) | 3-5pm

In recent times the future has begun to appear simultaneously as bright and cataclysmic. On the one hand, there are the positively stated endeavours (overcoming our biological limitations, opening a new space age; engineering the Earth system; advancing artificial intelligence, etc.). On the other, often the very same endeavors are perceived as launching potentially catastrophic futures as underlined by the unfolding climate crisis. In developing an understanding of future prospects, the question of history is of utmost relevance. It was only with the birth of the modern idea of history and temporalization (Koselleck) that the future appeared as distinct from the past and the present. Today, however, the future looks different to an extent that was simply unimaginable in the modern period. The radical alterity of future prospects poses many questions and gives rise to competing interpretations. Against the backdrop of the emergence of new futures, we propose to introduce a new concept of “historical futures.” Together with Zoltán Boldizsár Simon (University of Bielefeld) and the journal History and Theory we have initiated a collective research endeavor under the label of “historical futures” that examines modalities of historical futures that constitute our current historical condition. For more about the project and its contributions, please see https://historyandtheory.org/historical-futures.

In connection to this research endeavor, the workshop intends to discuss the various ways in which today’s anticipated futures relate to our apprehensions of the past. All participants are welcome to read before the workshop the opening piece of the “Historical Futures” project, available in open access.

Marek Tamm is the Professor of Cultural History and senior research fellow at the School of Humanities in Tallinn University. He is also Head of Tallinn University Centre of Excellence in Intercultural Studies and of Estonian Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts. Graduated in history and semiotics at the University of Tartu (1998), he earned his master degree in medieval studies from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris (1999) and his doctorate degree in medieval history from Tallinn University (2009). Author of five books, of some seventy scholarly articles published in Estonian, English and French, and editor of dozen collections of articles.