Center for Historical Culture – Paper discussion: Hans Ruin – Historical consciousness and mortuary culture – 20 February 2020, Rotterdam

Center for Historical Culture / History @ Erasmus

We are delighted to invite you to discuss the paper of
Hans Ruin
Professor of Philosophy at the Södertörn University (Stockholm)

Historical consciousness and mortuary culture

Date: Thursday 20 February 2020, 15:30-17:30 hrs
Venue: Tinbergen Building 17th floor, Riviumzaal Faculty Club, Campus Woudestein, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Based on his book Being with the Dead. Burial, Ancestral Politics and the Roots of Historical Consciousness (Stanford UP, 2019), Hans Ruin’s paper describes how human historicity and historical consciousness can be understood as extended forms of mortuary culture. As humans engage with, explore, and respond to the past they enter an existential-ontological space of being-with those who are no longer there. Traditionally the human sciences defined themselves in explicit opposition to pre-scientific superstitious dealings with the dead, to be replaced by non-committed theoretical approaches to the past. But the boundary is not always as clear-cut. Historians also cultivate an ethos and ability of learning from and of the dead. Often historical work also understands itself as a qualified form of doing justice to the dead, by giving people their proper place in history. In the contemporary landscape of the human historical sciences, memorial practices and historical research often overlap, and the idea of an ethical duty toward the dead is actualised in new ways. Taking its lead from hermeneutic, phenomenological and deconstructive thinking, the paper presents a conceptual framework for describing and analysing this social-ontological predicament.

Response: Berber Bevernage (History theorist at Ghent University)
Moderator: Maria Grever (ESHCC / EUR)

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