International Essay Workshop

Futures Past: Feminism and the Radical Democratic Imaginary 

6-7 July 2023, University of Vienna | Department of Political Science

The political history of Western feminism is typically described as encompassing various “waves” of theory and practice, with each wave building on, but also going beyond, an earlier wave. Thus, the second wave (1968-1980s) is seen as taking up and radicalizing the first wave (1848-1920) struggle for political rights by expanding the concept of rights and of politics itself beyond the confines of the formal political sphere; the third wave (1991-?) is seen as taking up and radicalizing the second wave’s concept of “women” as the political subject of feminism.

In the workshop, we want to reflect on this periodization of feminism critically and explore how conceptualizations of the past shape imaginative visions of possible futures. How we understand the past directly affects what can count as a “realistic” course of social, political, and economic activity. Furthermore, our conception of the past is shaped by a projected future, and different societies have different ways of imagining the relations between their future and the past.



Conveners: Linda Zerilli & Oliver Marchart

Organized by Sara Gebh & Sergej Seitz

Funded by the Chicago–Vienna Faculty Grant & the ERC Research Project Prefiguring Democratic Futures