Egon Bauwelinck

Biography and/or project

Since 1989 we are said to experience “the end of history,” celebrated by some as the culmination of universal hisitory, denounced by others as a condition of “presentism.” Whether seen as culmination or deplored as lack, the age of progress is declared over. Yet the practices of the age of progress seem to live on. Unions are characterised as remnants of the past and conservative obstacles for the necessary course of history and economic reforms; ecological movements are denounced as reactionary romantics unable to cope with modern technology and science. The political confusion on the issue of progress is mirrored in academic discussions in which the disappearance of synthesis, grand narratives and social history more generally is deplored. There is a tradition of (leftist) thinkers much more ambivalent if not hostile towards progress than those denouncing our “presentist” condition. Canonical thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, and Walter Benjamin, lesser known figures such as Georges Sorel and Charles Péguy, twentieth century philosophers such as Hannah Arendt and Gilles Deleuze have tried to conceive of (leftist) politics outside of the usual coordinates of modernist progress. Contemporary thinkers such as Isabelle Stengers, Bruno Latour, Jacques Rancière are doing the same. I am interested in linking these thinkers with contemporary metahistorical and historiographical discussions, particularly with the notion of “chronopolitics”, as well as examining alternative ways of writing history “after progress.”