Gepubliceerd op 10-07-2023

Workshop ‘Future Thinking and Practices in Premodern Economy, Society, and Culture’ – Call for Papers

The organisers of the workshop ‘Future Thinking and Practices in Premodern Economy, Society, and Culture’, to be held at the University of Antwerp on 23 and 24 November 2023, call for papers. Researchers at all career stages and particularly early-career researchers are invited to apply.

This workshop forms part of the research project ‘Back to the Future. Future Expectations and Actions in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, c.1400-c.1830’ at the Centre for Urban History of the University of Antwerp. The aim is to bring together cultural and socioeconomic perspectives on future orientations. In particular, the organisers want to exchange different methods, perspectives, sources, and data on the history of the time to come.

Theme and content

Future thinking and practices have gained much traction during the last decade in various disciplines, such as sociology, anthropology, psychology, and history. In the latter case, the English translation of Reinhart Koselleck’s collection of essays Futures Past (2004) gave an important impetus for historians to look closer at historical temporalities and experiences of time.

In essence, Koselleck suggested a transition from a medieval ‘closed future’ tied to traditions and religious prophecies to a modern ‘open future’, which is both filled with opportunities and risks for the individual and under the control of the modern state, which employs rational calculation and public planning. Cultural historians have voiced criticism against the inherent teleology, modernism, elitism, and Eurocentrism in this framework and stressed the differences between and within social groups and domains of life in light of future thinking and practices.

Socio-economic historians have only recently paid more attention to temporal orientation as an economic factor and tend to follow Koselleck’s narrative: futural orientation – especially future uncertainty and “rational” techniques to manage said uncertainty – is usually attributed to modern capitalist societies. At the same time, however, scholars of premodern economic history have always employed concepts related to the notion of an open future, such as ‘risk’, ‘uncertainty’, ‘plans’, and ‘strategy’. It has become obvious that historical futures were much more complex than the standard narrative suggests.

How to participate

For suggestions on topics, please download and consult the call. To submit a proposal, please send an abstract of 250 words and a short bio by e-mail to the organisers. The deadline for submission is 15 August 2023.

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