The continuing relevance of historical understanding is questioned today on several grounds. In the recent demise of humanities education, in the growing sense of memory, trauma and victimhood as an alternative approaches to the past, or in recent enchantment with technological and ecological concerns, historical thought as we know it is facing manifold challenges. Our workshop wishes to explore the extent to which modern historical understanding is still instrumental in orienting human societies on the one hand, and the extent to which history might have to transform in order to be able to meet present-day challenges on the other.
The workshop is organized around three blocks of roundtables as rather open forums to discuss (1) relations to the past both in academic history and in the wider society; (2) perceptions and pressing concerns of our present time and the question of presentism; and (3) the prospects of history without a future and a future without history. In order to map the current shape of our history culture both within and outside the academic context, the block discussions analytically boil down that which historical understanding holds together: past, present and future. Such analytical separation aside, the discussion themselves will constantly address the concerns of the other two blocks and the way in which they relate to each other. Each block begins with their brief – ca. 5 minutes long – statements as starters continues in discussion among the panel and opens then to the audience.