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The Ends of History. Apocalypse and Palingenesis in historical thought and political action (Europe and America, 19th-21st centuries)

Just as every history book always contains an ideological dimension, all social and political movements imply a contract with history, an implicit connection that links the present action to an image of the past that the action itself is intended to reject or continue. This political use of the past assumes that history has a purpose (redemption, progress, order, freedom, social justice, etc.), and it also assumes that it is possible to start again if the path has gone wrong.

Naturally, secular visions of apocalypse and palingenesis of the historical process often flourish in times marked by major conflicts or problems. Today we can find them not only in the mass media and popular representations but also in the most elaborate political and academic discourses from all the ideological tendencies. Consider, for example, the nationalist/populist movements that have in the past and today spread on both sides of the Atlantic. Despite their obvious divergences, which in many cases place them at the opposite extremes of the traditional ideological spectrum, these manifestations share an eschatological vision of history and pose their ascent to power as a kind of national renaissance. The philosophies of history they present, elementary and often based on abusive uses of historical memory, are nevertheless very effective in mobilising vast political forces. Thus, the concrete actions of particular political groups are usually followed by historical justifications elaborated by their respective intellectual quarters. These versions are almost immediately refuted by their opponents, shaping in this way the public debate. Despite their appearance, these are not discussions about factual history, its methods or the notion of historical truth, or even about the memory of different groups claiming different values. Actually, they are about divergent and incommensurable notions of the course and purpose of history as a whole ; a conflict between visions of history that pre-exist all real evidence. Hence the irresolvable and strident character of contemporary historical debates and the progressive radicalisation of their protagonists. We believe, therefore, that the notion of a historical finality is not, as many authors have thought, a relic of the past on the verge of extinction. On the contrary, its widespread presence, for better and worse, indicates that it remains a fundamental element in understanding the political and cultural development of contemporary Western societies.

Consequently, the 20th issue of the journal Amnis is intended as a space for interdisciplinary discussion on "The Ends of History. Apocalypse and Palingenesis in historical thought and political action (Europe and America, 19th-21st centuries)". Under the direction of Rodrigo Díaz Maldonado (Aix-Marseille Université) and Ricardo Ledesma Alonso (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), this issue seeks to explore the ends (eschatology or apocalypse) and new beginnings (palingenesis) of history. We aim to assess the influence of these notions, or their equivalents, both in political and social action, as well as in intellectual history, from the 19th century to the present in Europe and America.

This call for contributions proposes to address these topics according to the following lines of research :

1. Crisis and renaissance in social movements

2. Inventing the Future : political discourse and the purpose of history

3. The ends of history and the construction of national communities

4. The Origins and the Promised Land in historical and political discussions

5. Political and social radicalism and the construction of the historical process

6. Religious movements : political action and uses of the past

7. Secular messianisms : political leaders and historical manipulation

8. Apocalypse and Palingenesis in the media

9. Saving the people : redemption, progress, freedom and justice

10. Prophets of extremities : intellectuals and the end of history

11. Political manipulation of history and the memory politics

12. Death and rebirth of historical meta-narratives

READ MORE

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