FUTUREPOL seeks to open up a new field of historical and political enquiry around the history of future governance. As an object of governance, the future is notoriously rebellious: difficult to define, defying notions of objectivity and truth. Nevertheless, a crucial feature of modern societies is their belief in the knowability and governability of the future, the belief that through the means of scientific rationality and political power, the future can be controlled. FUTUREPOL aims to study shifting ideas of the knowability and governability of the future, in order to illuminate the process in which the future is transformed from its nebulous and uncertain state into an object of governance. Moreover, it intends an historical analysis of how this process varies over time in the post war period. The project thus asks two central research questions: How does the future become an object of governance? And how is this process different today, than earlier in the post war period? FUTUREPOL will address four problems: First, it will study the origins of futurology and its birth in transnational networks of futurists in the immediate post war period. Second, it intends to study the way that futurists’ ideas were translated into policy and gave rise to public institutions devoted to the future in many countries in Europe and beyond. Third, it will situate these problems in a global field where concerns with national futures are confronted to concerns with the survival of the world system as a whole, and fourth, it aims to study the evolution of the means of future governance over time, and proposes that such an historical analysis of future governance can permit us to historicize central forms of modern governance such as the governance of risk, foresight or scenarios, and thus help us understand the way that contemporary societies engage with the future.
Call for proposal
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