Online Lecture: "What is Performative in History? Radical Contingency, Discourse and Embodiment"
Online via Zoom: https://oulu.zoom.us/j/62751430646?pwd=eXJ6ai91QlRJQkNYNWp1Y05Yb2JWZz09 (passcode: 922241)
After the paradigm shift that the linguistic turn and specifically narrativism meant in recent philosophy and theory of history we found ourselves in a field eager to move forward, to pose new questions, to claim new topics of research and debate. Some have expressed this desire in terms of a need to leave the narrativist past behind, a past they considered exhausted or even counterproductive for a true renewal or interest in the value of historical thinking. Others consider that the fundamental tenets of White’s work are still worthy of attention and further development. Their strategy tends to begin in a sophisticated reconstruction of a linguistic turn informed framework, a critical assessment and correction of some ambiguities, misunderstandings or weaknesses of what they incorporate from White’s metahistorical theory and a demonstration of its usefulness through an application or study of a special historical case or debate.
In this talk I want to establish a dialogue between the desire to move forward and the belief in the essential tools gained from the narrativist past. First, I will present a performative reading of White’s insights on historical writing. Secondly, I will establish some illuminating connections between his latest work and developments in contemporary feminist theory and history. Finally, I will show that a performative approach to the relationship between narratives and identity takes us to a philosophical reflection on what history is: a radical contingency we experience and face, endure and seize, through the critical shifting between the discourses that made us, the constitution of our own embodiment and the possibilities of social change.