The Eisenberg Institute will kick off its 2022-23 programming on September 15, 2022, in 1014 Tisch Hall with a lecture by Professor Brian Porter-Szücs (University of Michigan). The event is the first in a yearlong exploration of a new theme, "Against History." 

The theme aims to "unpack the divergent meanings and practices of history and explore the ideologies involved in its construction and deployment, as well as the dangers of attempts to whitewash the complexities that the past has to offer." See below for a full theme statement.

Events are currently slated to take place in-person, though the institute will reassess modality approximately two weeks in advance. Please contact eisenberginstitute@umich.edu to subscribe to the institute's e-newsletter and receive the latest program information.

Additional information about the events listed below—including titles and panelists—will be posted when it is available. 

Fall 2022

Winter 2023

2022-23 EIHS Theme: Against History

Who could be “against history”? If history is taken to be the sum total of all that has happened in the past, then history simply is, and it would be no more possible to be “against” history than to be “for” it.  

From other perspectives, however, “history” might be very much something one can be either for or against. In the attempts to legitimate the invasion of Ukraine or the rewriting of US school curricula to remove “controversial” topics, the proponents appear to be acting “against history,” denying basic and well-established historical facts in order to produce ideologically acceptable narratives (even as that is the very accusation that such proponents raise against current historical pedagogies and curricula). Scholars writing in more critical traditions, whether coming from women’s and gender history or post-colonial studies or queer and trans studies or critical race theory, can be characterized as adopting approaches that are “against history,” where “history” stands for the authority of conventional analyses and traditional historicisms that have inevitably promoted particular epistemic certainties as well as silenced important aspects and experiences of the past. The positivism or empiricism or archival fetishism that some see as essential to the mainstream practice of history has engendered numerous alternative methods drawn from anthropology to literary studies, and from  data science to speculative fabulation and affective anachronism, which challenge conventional historical writing. And for many liberation projects, arguing against the ways history has been used as a means to justify political actions, social institutions, legal decisions, domestic arrangements, and so on, or against the “dead weight” of history itself, has proven critical to imagining new and better futures.  

“Against History” adopts as its starting point that history is a concept and a set of practices whose ideological work is often rendered invisible by the assumption that history’s narratives and analyses offer simply an objective empirical representation of the past. Instead, we want to unpack the divergent meanings and practices of history and explore the ideologies involved in its construction and deployment, as well as the dangers of attempts to whitewash the complexities that the past has to offer.