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Turning Points

In our view, shifts of hegemonic figures of thought constitute turning points. As a way of knowing the world, cultural practices employ a certain repertoire of figures of thought; at the same time, they transform these figures of thought and create new ones. Cultural practices are thus a way of acting in response to the world, based on our perceptions of it, while also shaping these very perceptions. Cultural practices are constantly reconfiguring social figurations. Any change in forms of cultural practice not only reflects or produces social change – it itself is social change.

The question our research group wishes to address in the long run is how these turning points relate to moments in history that have been pinpointed and constructed as moments of social and political change, in other words posited as revolutions, coups or uprisings.

Underlying this approach is a particular understanding of culture: we consider culture to be in a paradoxical state of continuous flux, to be continuous movement. Thus, we are always trying to cope with movement, keep track of it, for movement is indispensable and crucial for mobility, which in turn is a constituent of culture. It is an inescapable fact that cultures are constantly in motion, through both time and space. This fact opens up cultures; no longer closed entities, they face the unforeseeable, the principal attribute of movement. The work in this research group is demanding in a double sense: it is daring and innovative, but also quite tiring and often seems to be attempting the impossible. Studying the ceaseless movements of and in cultural practices demands restraint, an eschewing of definitive conclusions and learning to accept the necessary suspension of interpretational certainty.