Call for Papers: “From memories to the future”

The Italian Sociological Association (A.I.S.), the European Sociological Association (ESA) and the Department of Political Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, propose an international conference on the following topic:

From memories to the future
Collective memories and horizons of expectations
in contemporary Europe
Napoli – June 4/5, 2015

With the participation of:

    • Labex “Le passés dans le présent”, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre
    • Art & Humanities Research Council “Care for the Future”, University of Exeter
    • Department of Social Sciences, University “Federico II”, Naples
    • Department of Economics and Statistics, University “Federico II”, Naples
    • Department of Human and Social Sciences, University L’Orientale, Naples
    • Department of Political and Social Sciences, University of Calabria, Rende

The official language of the conference will be English.

The conference will include both keynote speakers and authors of selected papers.

The list of keynote speakers includes: Barbara Adam (GB, Cardiff University), Marie-Claire Lavabre (France, CNRS), Giuliana Mandich (Italy, University of Cagliari), Anna Lisa Tota (Italy, University Roma Tre), John Urry (GB, Lancaster University).

Keynote speakers will participate in a plenary session; the papers presented will be selected according to the topics dealt with in parallel sessions. The number of sessions will be decided based on the papers received. The hosting Department will be responsible for managing and organizing conference materials.


The sociology of memory has developed considerably over the last few decades across Europe, in combination with other disciplines. In most European countries there have been studies on the collective memory, some of which investigate the memory of Europe as a whole. Several attempts have been made to try to systematically refine the theoretical and methodological approaches at stake. This scientific interest corresponds to the widespread – albeit conflicting – interests of various communities in their own memories.

This focus on the past is matched by equally strong concerns about the future. Concern with the future is to be found at the very beginning of the sociological tradition but, as the empirically problematic realm of the “not yet”, the future has always occupied a fluctuating position within sociology. While a “Sociology of the Future” emerged within the field of future studies at the end of the sixties (investigating probable, possible, and preferable futures), more recently the future as a cultural fact has gained attention. In this perspective the new sociologies of the future challenge the supremacy of predictions (mostly formulated in terms of economic issues) by exploring the plausibility of “what might be” within the framework of an “ethic of possibilities”.

Yet, the representation of the past and that of the future are intertwined: on one side, memories are influenced by the current interests and plans of individuals and groups; on the other, memories themselves affect the ways in which the future can be anticipated in the imagination and concretely shaped in action. This may be said at every level of social life: cultural, political, economic and technological.

There is a connection between the ways in which we represent our past and our horizons of expectations: the aim of the conference is to focus on such interdependence, hence opening new perspectives in the fields of sociology of memory and future studies. The investigation will be carried out both from a theoretical and an empirical point of view, through the analysis of specific cases and particularly considering how representations of the recent past merge with the expectations developed by the new generations in Europe.

The conference’s focuses on theoretical and empirical studies, but also extends to the public sphere of European society: it also aims to enhance citizens’ awareness of the various possible ways of processing the past and how these influence the conjectures, aspirations and fears that current policies and actions are based on. Exploring our societies’ past and new expectations, and the concrete ways we are now producing the future, provides a context for responsibility:  we will be the past of our posterity’s future.

Call for papers

As for the papers, both empirical research and theoretical surveys can be proposed. Since the selected topic is interdisciplinary by nature, contributions that elicit interaction between sociology and other disciplines will be welcomed.

The papers may focus on the following topics:

  • Memory studies and future studies in the history of the social sciences
  • Public memories and public representations of the future
  • Working through the past: cultural traumas and the future of societies
  • Representations of the past and the future and social conflicts
  • Social movements between memories and contested futures
  • Remembering utopias
  • The media imaginary and the future: hegemonic and counter-hegemonic narratives
  • Memories and futures in daily life
  • The extended present and short-term expectations
  • Gender differences in perspectives on the past and the future
  • Infra- and inter-generational dynamics concerning visions of the past and future
  • Memories and futures of immigrants in Europe
  • Postcolonial memories, postcolonial futures
  • Technologies, memories and social innovations

Extended abstracts (MAX 1.000 words) of the proposed papers may be submitted until March, 28, 2015, together with a short author CV (MAX 200 words), to the following addresses: and

A list of the papers admitted will be communicated on April 30, 2015.

Scientific committee:

  • Maria Carmela Agodi (Member of the AIS and ESA executive committees)
  • Paola Di Nicola (AIS President)
  • Ghislaine Glasson Deschaumes (Head of Project, labex “Le passés dans le présent”)
  • Mark D. Jacobs (Chair of ESA RN7 “Sociology of Culture”)
  • Paolo Jedlowski (AIS Vice-President)
  • Carmen Leccardi (ESA President)
  • Marita Rampazi (Chair of AIS Research Committees)
  • Andrew Thompson (Director of AHRC “Care for the Future”)
  • Anna Lisa Tota (Chair of AIS RS “Culture and Communication”)

Organizing Committee:

Maria Carmela Agodi, Giuseppe L. De Luca Picione, Paola De Vivo, Paolo Jedlowski, Monica Massari, Rossella Michienzi, Lello Savonardo.