An International and Collaborative Research Programme

Seminar Session: December 10, 2020: François Hartog

“Reflections on Historicity, Time and Historical Research”

December 10, 2020. 15h00-17h00 (Berlin Time). Registration:


In his presentation, François Hartog will examine five main questions pertaining to the definition and relevance of the notion of historicity. He will first present the notion of historicity itself and discuss its uses in the present context of historical research and intellectual debates. Around a questioning of the uses of the past in contemporary societies, as well as of the complex relationship between past, present and future, he will also illustrate how an attention to regimes of historicity represents a coherent methodological tool for research. In a second part of the presentation, based on the research featured in his new book, Chronos, he will discuss the successive evolutions of Christian conceptions of time and the conditions of emergence of the modern regime of historicity. The third focus of the presentation will be dedicated to theoretical and historiographical questions on the relationship between democracy and historicity. François Hartog will then present reflections on the emergence since the 1970s of new uses of the past in societies and of policies marked by tendencies that he analyses as manifestations of presentism. The final point of the presentation will critically deal with the question of the historicity of democracy beyond the ‘West’ and in general with questionings on the civilisational and cultural values that have been attached to the notion.

François Hartog (Research Professor Emeritus, EHESS, Paris) is a French historian whose early work focused on Ancient Greece and on questions pertaining to historiography. He later oriented his research towards reflections on the notion of temporality. Among his publications: Le Miroir d’Hérodote. Essai sur la représentation de l’autre [The Mirror of Herodotus: The Representation of the Other in the Writing of History](Paris, 1980); Les Usages politiques du passé [Political Uses of the Past](with Jacques Revel, Paris, 2001); Vidal-Naquethistorien en personne, l’homme-mémoire et le moment-mémoire [Vidal-Naquet: historian, memory-man and memory-moment] (Paris, 2007).

On the question of historicity, he published Régimes d’historicité. Présentisme et expériences du temps (Paris, 2002-Augmented edition 2012). An English translation of this book, in which François Hartog proposes reflections on the notion of presentism and on what he analyses as “crucial moments of change in society’s way of relating to the past, the present and future”, was published by Columbia University Press (Regimes of Historicity: Presentism and Experiences of Time (New-York, 2015).

His latest book, Chronos: l’occident aux prises avec le temps [Chronos: How the West is struggling with Time] (Paris, 2020) was published earlier this year.

Next session: January 28, 2021: Hedayat Heikal (Climenko Fellow and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Cambridge MA) “Constitutionalism in the Middle East and the question of democracy”

Full 2020-2021 programme of the HISDEMAB seminar

An International and Collaborative Research Programme

2020-2021 HISDEMAB Seminar

The programme of the 2020-2021 HISDEMAB research seminar has just been published:

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