CFP: Time and History in Modern Political Thought

Submission deadline: April 15, 2022

Conference date(s):
July 8, 2022 - July 9, 2022

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Conference Venue:

School of Humanities, Tallinn University
Tallinn, Estonia

Topic areas


The workshop emerges from the recognition that recent years have seen what could be characterized as the ‘temporal turn’ in the history of political thought – an interest in the ways in which different narrative schemes of time and history have been used as normative languages to pursue certain visions of politics. This still fragmented interest can, however, draw on the broader historiographical setting prepared by the new wave of philosophies of history, already classic scholarship on the socio-economic production of particular textures of temporal experience,as well as recent concurring shifts in political and cultural history, history of law and arts. In this context, we propose an expanded mapping of the ways in which modern political thinkers, historical actors and movements have constructed and lensed their political aims through unique, entangled and conflicting conceptions of time and historicity as vastly relevant and complementary to the more established approaches.

Varieties of temporalities and historicities, or ‘timescapes’, be it a forward-leaning progressivism, appeals to restoration of the days of glory, ends of History, or even apocalyptic visions of the Earth time ticking to its end, have significantly shaped and continue to shape our political mentalities and imagination. The aim of the workshop is to reconstruct the aims and ways in which time and history as languages in the plural were used in political thought, speech and deed. Some of the guiding questions for the workshop include:

- What are the moments and discourses in which history has been identified as indispensable to/in political thought and politics? What are the moments and aims of rendering it irrelevant? How have these seemingly contradictory languages interacted?

- What relationships can be identified between 1) speculative theorizing about history and time 2) the use of such languages in political thinking and argument and 3) the implicit presence of these notions in political and social life? What kind of ‘timescapes’ and in which ways have these been deployed to reconceptualise and remake (or attempt to maintain the status quo in) politics and social life in different contexts? In other words, what has been the co-constitution of temporal and political orders in concrete historical contexts?

-  Is the “historicist” version of time an adequate paradigm to describe the main currents of 19th century temporal imagination? Or were there competing attempts to reorganise time and politics, and their concurrencies? What are the limits of Koselleck’s periodization?

- What relationships can be established between moments of historical rupture such as 1918 and 1989 and the construction of temporal imaginaries? Are such moments best characterized generically as moments of intense temporal re-elaboration or are there specific types of dynamics and ways in which time is re-imagined in these moments? To what kinds of time have economic, legal, political – but also literary, artistic, philosophical, environmental – and revolutionary practices appealed, and why?

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