History in a Post-Truth World

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The symposium “History in a Post-Truth World” will be held on Friday, 14 September 2018 at Collegium Civitas (Lecture Theatre A, 12th floor).

In 2016 the Oxford English Dictionary made ‘post-truth’ its word of the year. It describes post-truth as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’. While this is not a new word, it sprang to prominence in the wake of the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and the Trump presidential victory in the United States. But does it describe a new phenomenon and if so, can the term become a useful scientific concept? A post-truth environment presents particular problems to historians who are trained to deal with evidence, data, and facts. Does the historian have a special role to play in preserving public memory from ‘alternative facts’? Do academics more generally have an obligation to combat fake news both in universities and on social media? How has a ‘post-truth culture’ impacted on professional and popular historical discourse, and are there historians who have themselves resorted to post-truth rhetoric? This symposium will explore issues confronting the discipline of history and other social sciences in a post-truth world.

Programme

08:30-09:00   Tea and Coffee

09:00-10:30

  • Opening Address
    Prof. Jadwiga Koralewicz, PhD, President of Collegium Civitas
  • Introduction: Post-Truth—“Who Cares?”
    Marius Gudonis, Collegium Civitas (Warsaw)
  • Keynote Lecture: What Happens to Indigenous History in a Post-Truth World?
    Dr Benjamin Jones
    , Australian National University (Canberra)

10:30-10:45   Coffee Break

10:45-12:45   Session 1. What is Post-Truth?: Theoretical Considerations

Chair: Dr Katarzyna Chmielewska, The PAN Institute of Literary Research (Warsaw)

Post-truth as Crises of Trust and Critical Source Assessment
Jędrzej Czerep, Collegium Civitas (Warsaw)

Is “Post-Truth” a Bubble Concept? On Some Dilemmas with Post-Truth Uses
Dr Rafał Wierzchosławski, SWPS University (Poznań)

Post-Truth and the Alethic Populism
Prof. Adam Chmielewski, University of Wrocław

12:45-14:00   Lunch

14:00-16:00   Session 2. Manifestations of Post-Truth: From Early Modernity to the Present

Chair: Dr Anna Matczak, Collegium Civitas (Warsaw)

“Tell me lies”: the Enlightened Post-Truth
Prof. Paweł Dobrowolski, Collegium Civitas (Warsaw)

The Post-truth Narrative of the Smolensk Catastrophe
Agnieszka Sztajdel, European University Institute (Florence)

Fake News and Politics: the Case of the 2017 Catalan Election
Miquel Urmeneta, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

16:00-16:15   Coffee Break

16:15-18:15   Session 3. The Truth about “Post-Truth”: Evaluation and Response

Chair: Prof. Rafał Pankowski, Collegium Civitas (Warsaw)

‘Truthseeking’ in the Post-Truth Age: Have Conspiracy Theories, Denialism and Pseudohistory Really Prospered?
Dr Nicholas Terry, University of Exeter

The Soft Sciences are Easy: Para-Academia, Vulgarised Postmodernism, and the Danger of Ideologization
Adrian Wesołowski, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology/University of Warsaw

How Professional Historians Respond To Genocide Denial: A Tri-National Comparative Study
Marius Gudonis, Collegium Civitas (Warsaw)

18:15-19:00   Coffee and cakes