Histcon.se Time, Memory and Representation Tid, Minne, Representation

A Multidisciplinary Program on Transformations in Historical Consciousness

Ett mångdisciplinärt forskningsprogram om historiemedvetandets förvandlingar

Stefan Jonsson

Professor, Ethnic Studies, at the Institute for Research in Migration Ethnic Relations and Society, REMESO, Linköping University

Biography

B. 1961. Professor of Ethnic Studies, Linköping University; Affiliated professor in Aesthetics, Södertörn University. PhD in Literature, Duke U. 1997. Author of several books in post-colonial studies, literary studies, cultural theory, European modernism, and European colonialism, most recently Crowds and Democracy: The Idea and Image of the Masses from Revolution to Fascism (Columbia UP, 2013). Fellow at Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, 1998-2000. Visiting professor, U of Michigan, 2006. Involved in two additional research projects: “Building Eurafrica: Reviving Colonialism through European Integration, 1920-2007” (funded by VR); and “Narratives of Europe: Perspectives from its North-East Periphery” (funded by the Baltic Sea Foundation). Literary critic at Dagens Nyheter.

Ongoing research

As part of the research program Time, Memory, Representation I am working on a project entitled Collectivity and Universality: Representations of Historical Change. The project seeks and understanding of concepts that serve to interpret human collectives and explain their role in social and historical transformations.
Which notions, figures and categories can most adequately represent or portray the collective agents behind the revolutions and uprisings that are today occurring, with increasing intensity and frequency, in Europe, the Mediterranean, and the rest of the world? Since its modern inception, European human and social science has attributed historical agency to collectives by calling them “classes “nations,” “masses,” “peoples,” or “cultures” – terms that have profoundly shaped our historical consciousness. These terms are now contested, theoretically and politically, and researchers seek new ways of describing collective phenomena. The project charts the conceptual geography that emerges as scholars in philosophy, post-colonial studies, critical anthropology, and spatial cultural history trace collective modes of being and acting. Important notions will be “network,” “subalternity,” “multitude,” “migrant,” “flow,” “movement,” “community,” and “humanity.” A study of this kind is needed because these ideas about the common and the universal heavily influence future developments of human and social science and its views of cultural transformations. Two hypotheses are tried out: (1) the new concepts avoid reference to fixed identities, thus rejecting prevalent modes of cultural analysis that see actions and artifacts as “representations” of group identities; (2) they understand the collective as a spatial, rather than temporal or historical phenomenon. Consequently, a general aim has emerged while engaged in this project (3) to historicize these conceptions of collective being and action, so as to disclose that each presents a different model of a livable social future. The project has so far resulted in completion of a book, Crowds and Deomocracy, and several journal articles. The final result will be another English monograph, to be translated into Swedish. For publications within or related to the project, please see below.

As part of the research program Time, Memory, Representation I am working on a project entitled Collectivity and Universality: Representations of Historical Change. The project seeks an understanding of concepts that serve to interpret human collectives and explain their role in social and historical transformations.

Which notions, figures and categories can most adequately represent or portray the collective agents behind the revolutions and uprisings that are today occurring, with increasing intensity and frequency, in Europe, the Mediterranean, and the rest of the world?

Since its modern inception, European human and social science has attributed historical agency to collectives by calling them “classes", “nations,” “masses,” “peoples,” or “cultures” – terms that have profoundly shaped our historical consciousness. These terms are now contested, theoretically and politically, and researchers seek new ways of describing collective phenomena.

The project charts the conceptual geography that emerges as scholars in philosophy, post-colonial studies, critical anthropology, and spatial cultural history trace collective modes of being and acting. Important notions will be “network,” “subalternity,” “multitude,” “migrant,” “flow,” “movement,” “community,” and “humanity.”

A study of this kind is needed because these ideas about the common and the universal heavily influence future developments of human and social science and its views of cultural transformations.

Two hypotheses are tried out:

(1) the new concepts avoid reference to fixed identities, thus rejecting prevalent modes of cultural analysis that see actions and artifacts as “representations” of group identities;

(2) they understand the collective as a spatial, rather than temporal or historical phenomenon.

Consequently, a general aim has emerged while engaged in this project (3) to historicize these conceptions of collective being and action, so as to disclose that each presents a different model of a livable social future.

The project has so far resulted in completion of a book, Crowds and Deomocracy, and several journal articles. The final result will be another English monograph, to be translated into Swedish. For publications within or related to the project, please see below.

Selected bibliography

Eurafrica: The Untold History of European Integration and Colonialism. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014. [Co-authored with Peo Hansen]

Crowds and Democracy: The Idea and Image of the Masses from Revolution to Fascism. New York: Columbia UP, 2013.

A Brief History of the Masses: Three Revolutions. New York: Columbia UP, 2008.

Rapport från Sopornas planet: Kritiska Essäer. Stockholm: Norstedts, 2010.

Stories from Scoresbysund: Photography, Colonization, and Cartography. Köpenhamn: Kuratorisk Aktion / Pia Arke Selskabet, 2010. Trilingual edition: English, Danish, Greenlandic. [With Pia Arke]

Världen i vitögat. Tre essäer om västerländsk kultur. De andra – Andra platser – Världens centrum. Nyutgåva med nytt förord. Stockholm, Norstedts, 2005.

Subject Without Nation: Robert Musil and the History of Modern Identity. Durham/ London: Duke UP, 2001.

“After Individuality: Freud’s Mass Psychology and Weimar Politics”. New German Critique, 40: 2 (2013): 53–75.

“Disclosing the World Order: Decolonial Gestures in the Artistic Work of Pia Arke”. Third Text. Critical Perspectives on Contemporary Art & Culture, 27: 2 (2013): 242–259.

“Network and Subaltern: Antinomies of Contemporary Theory”. In Rethinking Time: Essays on Historical Consciousness, Memory, and Representation, eds. Hans Ruin and Andrus Ers. Södertörn University: Södertörn Philosophical Studies, 10, 2011, 189-198.

“The Ideology of Universalism.” New Left Review 63 (May-June 2010): 115–126.

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