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Session Detail (plenary)

Keynote 4: Futures Past

Session presentation

Chris Ballard, Australian National University, and Université de la Polynésie Française, Tahiti

To know where you’ve come from, first you need to know where you’re going. Much has been made of the ‘presentism’ of oral traditions and other forms of history-telling, in which the past is endlessly reworked and tailored to suit the needs of the present. Drawing on a wide sweep of Pacific histories and ethnographies, I want to argue instead that recalled pasts are intimately tied to imagined futures and, in particular, that the notion of historicity, as the conscious and unconscious apprehension of temporal process, provides us with the means to appreciate this futural quality of the past.