Past Presences: Interdisciplinary workshop

There seems to be an increasing consensus among the scholars in social sciences and humanities that the past is no longer what it used to be, and neither is the academic study of the past. The present has ceased to be regarded as a transitional state from what has been to what has not yet been. The past and the future now exist as the present’s own immanent modes. This new situation, called a “presentist regime of historicity” (François Hartog), provides several challenges to the disciplines working on the matters of the past.

This interdisciplinary workshop, that brings together scholars in various disciplines, including anthropology, archaeology, cultural geography, history, literary studies and philosophy, is intended to discuss both the intellectual genealogies of the current epistemic situation and the future prospects of the historical disciplines in the age of presentism. We anticipate to explore what are the main epistemological consequences of the shifts in contemporary Western time regime and to discuss critically some of the traditional assumptions that underpin the historical research.

More specifically, the workshop is build around three key-themes:

1) evaluation of the impact of the “presentism” in different branches of the humanities and social sciences, especially in the so-called historical disciplines;
2) genealogical discussion of the contemporary Western time regime, of the roots of presentism in philosophy, arts and literature in the twentieth century;
3) reflections on the epistemological and methodological consequences of the presentism for historical disciplines.


9 December
10.00–10.20: Laurent Olivier and Marek Tamm: Introduction
10.20–11.00: Hans Ruin: Historicity and the Production of a Present
11.00–11.40: Marek Tamm: Crisis of Historicism, or the Emergence of a New Notion of Temporality in Early 20th Century
11.40–13.00: Lunch
13.00–13.40: Helge Jordheim: Multiple Presents, Or What Does the -Ism in Presentism Mean?
13.40–14.20: Zoltán Boldizsár Simon: The Transformation of Historical Time: From the Historical Process to the Temporality of the Event
14.20–14.40: Coffee
14.40–15.20: Shannon Lee Dawdy: A Manifesto for Slow Time
15.20–16.00: Mats Burström: Estrangement Effects and Archaeological Interpretation

10 December
10.00–10.40: Chris Lorenz: Time, Teleology, Presentism and Periodization
10.40–11.20: Eelco Runia: Orthochronism
11.20–12.00: Philippe Artières: History of the Present/Archaeology of the Present
12.00–13.00: Lunch
13.00–13.40: Anne Fuchs: Time Works: Michael Wesely and the Aesthetic Experience of Simultaneity
13.40–14.20: Bjørnar Olsen: Scattered and Preserved: Memory and Archaeological Presences
14.20–14.40: Coffee
14.40–15.20: Caitlin DeSilvey: Ruination, Rewilding and the Presencing of the Past
15.20–16.00: Laurent Olivier: Archaeology at the Age of Presentism
16.00–16.30: A concluding discussion

The workshop “Past Presences: or, how to study the past in the age of presentism?” is organized by Laurent Olivier (Paris) and Marek Tamm (Tallinn) and takes place in Oslo at Centre for Advanced Studies.

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