Jenny Andersson, Researcher at Sciences Po & Co-Director of MaxPo in Paris.
At this seminar, Jenny will present her new book The future of the world. Futurology, futurists and the struggle for the post Cold War imagination.
The book is devoted to the intriguing post war activity called – with different terms – futurism, futurology, futures research or futures studies. It explains how futurists and futurologists imagined the Cold War and post Cold War world and how they used the tools and methods of futures research to influence and change that world. Futurists were a motley crew of Cold War warriors, nuclear scientists, journalists and peace activists.
The Cold War period saw a key debate about the future as singular or plural. Forms of Cold War science depicted the future as a closed sphere defined by delimited probabilities, but were challenged by alternative notions of the future as a potentially open realm. Futurism also drew on an eclectic range of repertoires, some of which were deduced from positivist social science, mathematics and nuclear physics, and some of which sprung from alternative forms of knowledge in science fiction, journalism or religion. Different forms of prediction lay indeed very different claims to how and with which accuracy futures could be known, and to which kind of control could be exerted over coming and not yet existing developments. Not surprisingly, such different claims to predictability coincided with radically different notions of human agency, of morality and responsibility, indeed of politics.
The book carefully explains these different engagements with the future, and inscribes them in the intellectual history of the post war period. Working from transnational history and based on unexplored archival collections, it reconstructs the networks of futurologists and futurists in the global field.
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