Past Futures. Historical Approaches to the Analysis of Uncertainties and Ruptures", 29-30th of September 2022, Innsbruck, Austria 

Conference organized by the SIEF-Working-Group „Historical Approaches in Cultural Analysis” and the Department of History and European Ethnology of the University of Innsbruck

29-30th of September 2022, Innsbruck, Austria

Photo by Hadija Saidi on Unsplash

Conference participation (on-site or virtual) free of charge, but please send email with your interest to

Crises have not only been omnipresent since the global Covid pandemic, rather they have also shaped the everyday "life of the many" in the past. The conference on "past futures" will take a historical perspective on cultural processes and strategies of adaptation to ruptures and crises in past eras. Starting from the very uncertainty of our present days experienced by all of us during the last years, the conference asks how crisis experiences were processed in the past and how possible futures were designed against this background. During the last years, there has been an increasing preoccupation with questions of future references in cultural studies and European Ethnology. These (mostly constructivist) approaches ask about the discursive and practical production of the future, about the function of future concepts in the present and the past or about the way in which the future is to be made plannable or expectable. Building on these ongoing debates, we ask for the manifold strategies of imagining the future in lifeworlds and everyday life to deal with, adopt and conceptualize uncertainties. Such "past futures" can show up in diverse sources and in broad empirical material, for example in narrative contexts, correspondences and letters, protocols, scientific texts but also in first-person documents. The conference is thus interested in the manifold possibilities of “common people” reacting to ruptures, threats, dangers and challenges in their everyday lives by imagining futures, writing them down, or even making them concrete in their lives by realising them in various practices.

To what extent can references to the future be understood as coping with crises? What temporal ideas of order for dealing with ruptures can be found in the past? Which everyday source genres provide information about lifeworld strategies for coping with crises? In what way do references to the past enable future viability?

The conference chooses a broad temporal focus (from the 17th century to contemporary history/present) and a geographically wide range. Different scholars with a background in (but not limited to) European Ethnology/Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Studies, History and its sub-disciplines or Literature Sciences will question their material within the perspective of „past futures“.

(download in pdf-format)

Thursday, 29 September 2022

10:00                  SIEF-Working Group Meeting
                            “Historical Approaches in Cultural

                            Pre-Conference-Meeting for members
                            of the HACA-WG
                            (Room: 52U109SR, open to anyone

12:00                  Lunch break (individual)

13:30                  Arrival and get-together

14:00–14:15      Opening Remarks

                            Anna Buchheim (Vice-Rector,
                            University of Innsbruck, Austria)

                            Konrad Kuhn (University of Innsbruck,

14:15–15:30      Session  I
                            Years without history. Female futures in the
                            aftermath of
the Second World War
                            Anna Leyrer (University of Vienna,

                           Creating the present and imagining the
                           future in Warsaw
during the Revolution if
                           Clara M. Frysztacka (European University
                           Viadrina Frankfurt/ Oder,  Germany)

15:30–16:00      Coffee break

16:00–17:15      Session  II

                           Crisis in Past Futures: Eugène Pittard and
                           Anthropology in
Turkey in the 1930s
                           Hande Birkalan Gedik (Goethe University
                           Frankfurt, Germany)

                           Did sixteenth-century merchants never let a
                           good crisis go
to waste?
                           Jeroen Puttevils (University of Antwerp,

17:15–18:45     Break and individual city-walk

18:45                 Conference-Dinner at Restaurant

Friday, 30 June 2022

09:00–09:30      Arrival and Coffee

09:30–10:45      Session  III
                           Cyclical Repetition or an Open Future?
                           A Future Horizon
During an Outbreak of the
                           Plague in the 16th Century

                           Max-Quentin Bischoff (University of
                           Antwerp, Belgium)

                           Nineteenth-Century Cholera Epidemics in
                           Sweden from Popular Perspective
                           Anders Gustavsson (University of Oslo,

10:45–11:15     Coffee break

11:15–12:30     Session IV
                          The concept of a normal life in
                          Yugonostalgic memory
                          Milica Popović (Central European
                          University Vienna, Austria)

                          Negotiating the future from below.
                          The diary of a 19th
century miller
                          Katre Kikas (Estonian Literary Museum
                          Tartu, Estonia)

12:30–13:30     Lunch break (individual)

13:30–14:45     Session V
                           “No heritage, no Future”: Time and Loss in
                           Katarzyna Puzon (LMU Munich, Germany)

                           “Won’t you burn out on a holiday in
                           tropics?”: Social and
systemic denial of a
                           burnout society (and individual)

                           Mateja Habinc (University of Ljubljana,

14:45–15:15     Coffee break

15:15–16:00      Wrap up and future plans

16:00                 Optional get-together at “Uni Café


( for those taking part in a remote mode.


Hotel Engl, Innstraße 22, 6020 Innsbruck
Tel.: +43 (0) 512 283112

Concept and organisation:

Department of History and European Ethnology / University of Innsbruck

together with:

SIEF-Working Historical Approaches in Cultural Analysis (


Ass.-Prof. Priv.-Doz. Dr. Konrad Kuhn
Department of History and European Ethnology
University of Innsbruck
Innrain 52d, AT-6020 Innsbruck


Please check the university homepage for the latest information on Covid 19-measures:





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