Prediction conference


International conference, April 15-16 2016, Sciences Po Paris 

The workshop Prediction brought together historians and historians of science, STS scholars, sociologists and anthropologists, around the theme of the history and uses of prediction in a range of fields. It examined the role of prediction as a form of market making, world ordering, and crafting of the social realm on the national, transnational, and global level. We understand the history of prediction to be related to ideas and representations of post war futures, but also as a question of the technologies, devices and forms of expertise used to predict and imagine futures in the contemporary world. Prediction involves forms of scientificity, but also forms of imagination and creativity, it relies on calculation and quantification but also on forms of imagination, story telling, and narration. What is the role played by prediction in contemporary history, in what ways can prediction be linked to neoliberal governmentalities, and what is the power that it holds?


Friday April 15, Salle Goguel (56, rue des Saints Pères)


  • Jon Agar "Future Forecast—Changeable and Probably Getting Worse’: The UK Government’s Early Response to Anthropogenic Climate Change Kevin Baker Life after Limits: the First Decade of Global Modeling"
  • Claudia Aradau "Politics of prediction: big data, governmentality and the digital anatomy of (in)security"
  • Hunter Heyck "The Prediction Machine: humans, computers, and planners in the postwar behavioral sciences".


  • Stephen Collier "Rebuilding by Design in New York after Hurricane Sandy: First Notes toward a Genealogy of Anti-Planning"
  • Ariane Leendertz "Power and Interdependence: The “1980s Project” and the Future of U.S. World Politics (~1973-1980)"
  • Christina Garsten "Imaginable futures: Anticipatory knowledge and narratives of futurity in U.S. think tanks"
  • Jenny Andersson "The future as a field of struggle. Prediction in the global field."


  • Paul Josephson "Soviet and Post-Soviet Scientific Futures: Discourses on the (Post-)Soviet Man and Woman"
  • Egle Rindzeviciute "The Soviet Future: A Birth of Scientific Forecasting in the Soviet Union 
  • Viteslav Sommer Future and Governance in State Socialism: Expertise and Knowledge Production in Czechoslovakia, 1950s-1980s"
  • Edwin Bacon "Writing Russia’s futures: scenarios, process, and wishful forecasting"


  • Martin Giraudeau "Proving the Future: Business Plans and the Rise of Capitalism" 
  • Olivier Pilmis "How a Central Bank Tells the Future. The Case of Banque de France"
  • Jacob Ward "To invent the future, not to predict it »: Human Imagination and Computer Prediction in the British Post Office"

Saturday April 16, Salle du Conseil (13 rue de l’Université) 


  • Rens van Munster and Casper Sylvest Reimagining the Future during the Thermonuclear Revolution 
  • Benoit Pelopidas The birth of nuclear eternity. How the world was told to live with nuclear weapons forever in the 1960s 
  • S.M. Amadae Rationality as Prediction: Nuclear Nightmares, Absent Subjects, and the Social Technological Imaginary of Algorithmic Governance


  • Sibylle Duhautois "Mankind 2000: predicting human futures in response to global problems"
  • Adam Freeman "‘Globality’ and ‘Futurity’: When World Models Meet"
  • Nicolas Guilhot "The Shape of Things to Come: International Relations Theory and the Future"


End of conference and final discussion

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