Alienating Presents. Recovering Futures extd.

On ‘Futures Industries’ and the Political Imagination (Discussion and Workshop)
Jan 24 – 25, 2024

Talking about the future is not so easy today. It risks depoliticisation from two opposing sides. Our political imagination oscillates between feelings of hopelessness and fatalism on the one hand, and hollow stories of cruel optimism on the other.

Both doom via irreversible climate catastrophe or AI and salvation via technology and green capitalism seem to be waiting just around the corner. All the while, the idea of progress lingers around like a ghost, clearly no longer alive, it refuses to disappear.

To avoid both nostalgia and futile calls for utopias, the workshop Alienating Presents, Recovering Futures addresses questions of future(lessness) and the political imagination from a materialist perspective: How are today’s ‘futures industries’ shaping our imaginative worlds? Which hegemonic projects compete for our imaginaries of the future and who benefits from them? What are the terms, concepts, and images that could help us alienate ourselves from the present in order to recover (past) futures? In short: how can we move from the return of history to the return of the end of capitalism?

The workshop will explore these questions in two formats: For a panel discussion on Wednesday evening, we have invited artist, writer and filmmaker Bahar Noorizadeh (London), media philosopher Katia Schwerzmann (Ruhr-Universität Bochum), writer and member of the Salvage collective Richard Seymour (London) and Dazed editor Günseli Yalcinkaya (London) to share their perspectives on the workings of ‘futures industries’. For Thursday’s workshop, we have asked colleagues from Leuphana and FU Berlin to present related parts of their research in short working papers. The panelists will participate in the workshop and comment on the papers.

The workshop is a cooperation between the DFG Research Training Group Cultures of Critique and the Center for Critical Studies (CCS).

Please register for the workshop by January 07, 2024 by sending an email to