About FPG…

Future Pasts Group
University of Stavanger
Stavanger 4046

1.    UiS Members
  • Professor Alexandre Dessingué, Literacy studies and History Education, leader of FPG 
  • Professor Ketil Knutsen, History and History Education
  • Associate Professor David-Alexandre Wagner, History and Social Sciences
  • Postdoctor Linn Normand, History Education and Social Sciences
  • PhD fellow Tor Thorvaldsen, History Education
  • Professor Ketil Fred Hansen, Social Sciences
  • Professor Ingrid Nielsen, Scandinavian Literature
  • Associate Professor Jon Skarpeid, Religion studies
  • Professor Benedikt Jager, Scandinavian Literature
  • Associate Professor Hans-Erik Bugge, Pedagogy
  • Associate Professor Silje Normand, English
2.    External members
  • Professor Claudia Lenz, History and Social Sciences, MF University, Oslo, Norway
  • Professor Kjetil Jakobsen, History, Nord University, Norway
  • Professor Helge Jordheim, Professor of Cultural History and Museology, University of Oslo, Norway
  • Professor Mario Carretero, Psychology, University of Madrid, Spain and FLASCO, Argentina
  • Professor Paula Hamilton, History and Public History, Australian Centre for Public History, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
  • Professor Stefan Berger, Social History, Director of the Institute for Social Movements, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany
  • Professor Barbara Törnquist-Plewa, Eastern European Studies, University of Lund, Sweden
  • Professor Maria Grever, History and History Education, Research Centre in Historical Culture, University of Rotterdam, Netherlands
 Objectives and research questions

Past events are used in public spaces by different actors, individuals and groups, in order to create a collective perception and feeling of past and identity in the present and for the future. In our contemporary world, globalization and digitalization, processes of migration and multiculturalism challenge national canons, well-established historical and canonical narratives.

The present research programme aims to address the relationship between various forms of uses, representations and understandings of the past articulated by individuals or groups and the preconditions these representations shape for the future. The many ways the past is used and interpreted affect our social and cultural life but also educational and cultural policies and practices, understandings and constructions of collective identities, politics of integration and migration.

During the last 20 years, researchers in uses of the past, memory studies, history and history education have revealed the existence of a constant “tension” regarding the role the teaching and more generally the understanding of the past has had in different national contexts (Grever and Stuurman 2007, Andrews, McGlynn et al. 2010, Lopez, Carretero et al. 2014, Dessingué 2016). In some cases, politicians, historians and other policy makers have argued for an essentialist use of the past and heritage as an arena for the celebration of the national past, a topic that has been problematized in recent research (Grever and Stuurman 2007, Lee 2007, Seixas 2009, Haydn 2012). The raise of populism and nationalism especially in Europe but also in other parts of the world can be considered as a clear resurgence of this essentialist consideration of the past and cultural heritage. 

On the contrary, others have kept insisting on the critical role the teaching, the study and the analysis of the past should have focusing on related approaches: one the one hand, the need for a clear cross-cultural approach rather than approaches focusing simply on national contents; and on the other hand, educational and cross-disciplinary methods that promote the development of a critical-historical consciousness, a broader and a deeper focus on historical culture and historical thinking to understand the complex social world we are a part of (Peck and Seixas 2008, Grever 2012, Grever, De Bruijn et al. 2012, Wineburg and Reisman 2015, Dessingué 2016, Dessingué 2017).

The new research programme FPG has a clear ambition of proposing a meaningful framework for the study of the past in the 21st century that incorporates complex and critical thinking and that transcends the conventional understanding of essentialist pasts and identities.

Common research questions are:

How is the past mediated, represented and used in different educational, cultural and social settings and with which purpose? (eg by history or language teachers in schools, by politicians in public debates or by writers in novels/diaries)

To what extent the past is or not used in relation to essentialist visions of identities and heritage in different educational, cultural and social settings?

How do people relate to uses of the past in different educational, cultural and social settings? (eg what kind of historical narratives and understandings of the past do the students/pupils produce in schools or how are the 22nd of July Centre in Oslo or the film Utøya discussed/perceived)

How can we improve critical historical thinking or critical historical consciousness in education and other cultural settings?

Conceptually, the research programme will have as objectives the examination of notions like historical consciousness, historical memory, cultural memory, historical thinking or historical culture in relation with representations or uses of the past in public spheres like in education, culture and society.

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