In times of multiple crises and anxieties, we witness a desire to return to (seemingly) better times, which are subject to idealizations and projections. In this workshop, we approached this phenomenon through the lens of the guiding concept of re-imagining the past (Rückbesinnung).
This refers to the process by which the past is retroactively charged with meaning. Re-imagining, in this context, does not merely stand for the representation of what belongs to the past. Rather, it is a cultural activity, which, as a lynchpin for a transformation of political order, is always also oriented towards the future. At the same time, interpretations of the past are constantly challenged and contested. While promises to restore past national ‘greatness’ are the domain of far right politics, progressive or emancipatory political projects also mobilize re-imaginations of the past. How do struggles over symbolic representations of the past unfold in view of ecological, geopolitical and social crises? How can we study (pop)cultural representations of re-imagined pasts and their implications for current political projects? What are the normative and strategic promises and pitfalls of mobilizing re-imaginations of the past as counter-narratives to far right storytelling? These and other questions were explored from an interdisciplinary perspective in this workshop, which took up discussions already initiated at the online conference in 2021 and was co-sponsored by the main research area 'Transformation of contemporary societies' at the University of Duisburg-Essen.
10:00 – 10:15
Welcome and Introduction
10:15 – 11:30
Anna Schober: A People of Victims – The Presence of Iconic Images of Slavery at Covid Action and Climate Demonstrations in Contemporary Germany
Bernhard Forchtner: Nature’s Past in the New Right Imaginary: The Case of Die Kehre in Germany
Friederike Kuntz: Untimely Utopia of Eternal Return – On the Chronopolitics of the European New Right
11:30 – 12:00
12:00 – 13:15
Sarah-Lea Effert: Transformative or Futures Literacy: A Counter-Strategy to ReImagined Pasts?
Katja Freistein, Frank Gadinger, and Christine Unrau: Reclaiming the Past: New Progressive Positions in a Culture War
Siddharth Tripathi: Nostalgia and the 'New India': Envisioning a Future through the Golden Past
13:15 – 14:15
14:15 – 15:30
Emilia Palonen: Shared Sacred Spaces as a Source for Nationalism
Karolina Kluczewska: Re-imagining the Past, Building the Future: Visual State and Nation-Building in Tajikistan
Birgit Mersmann: Image Disputes over the Past: Posticonoclast Heritage Reconstruction
15:30 – 16:00
16:00 – 17:15
Stefan Groth Authentic Texts and ‘Original Ideas’ : On the Interpretation of Foundational EU Frameworks
Bidisha Biswas: Constructed Pasts and Imagined Homelands : (Mis)Understandings of History among the Indian Diaspora
Johannes Völz: The Politics of Memory in US Talk Radio
17:15 – 17:45