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Imagining Pasts and Futures

We are concerned with the social imagination of pasts and futures.


We have well established research strengths in:

  • social and cultural perspectives on memory and constructions of the past
  • utopian studies and social futures
  • other forms of temporality, especially in relation to developments in social theory

Our friendly cluster opens up engaged discussions across the boundaries of these ideas. They speak to some of the most pressing problems of today.

To learn more about our conversations, follow our our blog or join our mailing list by emailing us.

Memories of the past are shaped by visions of the future as well as conditions and contexts of the present. Just as visions of the future are related to understandings of the past whilst also shaping actions in the present. Social practices of remembering and commemoration, hoping and dreaming, are all simultaneously individual and collective. They have real importance in institutional and everyday life.

Specific staff interests include:

  • the imagination and practice of alternatives within and beyond capitalist democracies; visions of the Anthropocene and environmentally sustainable futures; the social importance of utopias;
  • the study of the recent past from a historical sociology and anthropology perspective; the future-directed government of memory in nation-building and the role of future anticipation in present-day policy work;
  • the creative affordances of social memory and place for senses of identity and belonging, as well as social exclusion; the intersection of pasts and futures in relation to urban and social regeneration, social transformation and nationhood, the idea of community and empathy
  • political, social and individual memory-work, in particular its significance for identity and personhood, older age, the moral significance of remembering and memorialisation, the bio-technological modification of memory
  • Cluster members have worked together to explore the discursive and political history of meritocracy and the kinds of futures it opens up and closes down, as well as the temporalities of institutional change in relation to the future of student engagement in HE