Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Sarah Parker Remond Memorial Lecture: Professor Ian Baucom: The Future Claimant’s Representative

The Inaugural Sarah Parker Remond Memorial Lecture: Prof Ian Baucom discusses the planetary crisis of climate change and its relationship to distinct material histories of the colony and post-colony

spr memorial lecture

1 November 2022

This event took place on 26 October 2022, 5:30 pm–7:00 pm
This event was organised by UCL's Sarah Parker Remond Centre as the inaugural Sarah Parker Remond Memorial Lecture

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hz_NkNxdlPk&t=11s

The planetary crisis of climate change we are facing does not come from a historical nowhere. It comes from distinct material histories of the colony and post-colony. To recognize that however is not adequate to the challenge of the times we inhabit. Knowing that we come to the planetary present from the post-colony’s historical shore means we need to commit ourselves not only to a deepened understanding of that historical past (which is never “past”) and the claims it makes on us, but, equally, to our already climate-changed planetary future (which isn’t truly future, but already arriving) and to the claims that future makes on us. The planet is in crisis because of the history of colonialism. It is in deepened crisis because we are now—already—colonizing the future.

As we consider the daunting challenges of how to respond to those calls of historical and planetary responsibility an intriguing figure has emerged at the margins of law: the “future claimant’s representative”; a figure from the future who can speak to the decisions, choices, determinations, we are making for the planet now. As we embrace the daunting tasks of our historical moment, what might it mean for the university to take on that new responsibility—to be not only the critical interpreter of the past, and present, but, simultaneously, the future claimant’s representative?

About the speaker:

Professor Ian Baucom is the executive vice president and provost of the University of Virginia. Baucom is the author of History 4° Celsius: Search for a Method in the Age of the AnthropoceneOut of Place: Englishness, Empire and the Locations of Identity, and Specters of the Atlantic: Finance Capital, Slavery, and the Philosophy of History. He is the co-editor of Shades of Black: Assembling Black Arts in 1980s Britain.