Alienating Presents. Recovering Futures: On 'Futures Industries' and the Political Imagination


24. Jan - 25. Jan

24.01.2024, 18 - 20 Uhr, Podiumsdiskussion, Leuphana Kunstraum
25.01.2024, 10 - 18 Uhr, Workshop, Zentralgebäude (C40.153)

Organisiert von Liza Mattutat (Kulturen der Kritik) und Lukas Stolz (Kulturen der Kritik)

Podiumsdiskussion mit Bahar Noorizadeh (London), Katia Schwerzmann (Ruhr-Universität Bochum), Richard Seymour (London) und Günseli Yalcinkaya (London)

Workshopbeiträge von Jandra Böttger (FU Berlin), Volha Davydzik (Leuphana University Lüneburg), Alan Diaz (Leuphana University Lüneburg), Laura Hille (Leuphana University Lüneburg), Liza Mattutat (Leuphana University Lüneburg), Donovan Stewart (Leuphana University Lüneburg), Lukas Stolz (Leuphana University Lüneburg) und Julian Volz (Leuphana University Lüneburg).

Die Veranstaltung findet in englischer Sprache statt. 

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.

In order to avoid 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. We start from the assumption that power has always produced images of the future to program the present according to its interests. Today, this role has been taken over by "futures industries," a concept we borrow from cultural theorist Kodwo Eshun. It allows us to ask how the current imaginative impasse is produced: How can we analyse the workings of today‘s futures industries and what are the material forces that shape our imaginative worlds? Which hegemonic projects compete for our imaginaries of the future, who's part of them and who benefits from them? Beyond a paranoid reading of the present, where can we find latent traces of the not-yet in existing contradictions? 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?

Download: Flyer & Poster

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

Please register by January 07, 2024 by sending an email to