Chronopolitics: Time of Politics, Politics of Time, Politicized Time

This article is part of the TRAFO series Emerging Topics. Insights from ‘Behind the Scenes’. Today, we put the spotlight on the international conference “Chronopolitics: Time of Politics, Politics of Time, Politicized Time”. This event will take place at the Max Weber Foundation’s German Historical Institute in London from May 5th to May 7th 2020. We have been talking to the convener, Tobias Becker, about the upcoming conference.

Please find more information on the conference here. The call for papers is open until April 30th 2019.

You are one of the organizers of the conference “Chronopolitics: Time of Politics, Politics of Time, Politicized Time”. Why are you organizing this event?

We’re organizing the conference as members of the Arbeitskreis Geschichte+Theorie, where we’ve been discussing the history of time and temporalities since 2015. The idea for the conference has evolved out of these discussions and more specifically the feeling that the relationship between politics and time has been somewhat neglected in the existing historical research on the history of temporality. Personally, I also cherish the opportunity to work with two brilliant colleagues, Fernando Esposito and Christina Brauner.

Your conference will explore the question of how time is socially and culturally constructed by political and scholarly practices. Which transregional aspects will you take into account at the conference?

This depends somewhat on what proposals we will get. However, we are of the opinion that the existing research has been too Eurocentric. We’re really looking for contributions on temporal regimes and the interplay between temporal imaginaries and politics in other parts of the world. We hope these will help to question, deconstruct and criticize established ideas about temporality generally.

Will you also deal with how to structure periodization and how to translate chronotypes worldwide? (See also Annual Conference: Chronologics: Periodisation in a Global Context)

Periodization and its problems is definitely something we want to discuss but more than that how historiography draws on and at the same time produces and popularizes ideas about time, change and progress and particular about non-simultaneity and non-coevalness. Now that Reinhart Koselleck has become canonical, we find it’s time to read him more critically. And again, this is something we hope to explore in a larger geographical context, drawing on contributions and examples from outside of Europe and also from other disciplines.

What do you expect from your conference and what would be the ideal outcome for further research?

Naturally, we hope to shake the entire foundations of the historical enterprise — or at least to make it aware how implicit, unacknowledged Eurocentric and historist assumptions of time inform our work and the understanding of the past generally.

Questions: Charlotte Jahnz


About the Convener

Tobias Becker is a Research Fellow at the German Historical Institute London. His research interests include European history in the nineteenth and twentieth century, the history of popular culture, temporalities and emotions, public history and urban history. He holds a PhD in Modern European History from the Freie Universität Berlin and a M.A. in History and Political Science from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. Currently he is working on the history of nostalgia since the 1960s in Britain, the United States and West Germany.


Citation: Tobias Becker, Chronopolitics: Time of Politics, Politics of Time, Politicized Time, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 20.03.2019, https://trafo.hypotheses.org/18138.


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