Care for the Future – Afterlives of Empire: Thinking Forward Through an Imperial Past

"Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past."
T. S. Eliot, 'Burnt Norton' from Four Quartets (1936)

"He who controls the past controls the future: he who controls the present controls the past."
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

The relationship between the past, present and future shapes our understanding of the world around us. Whether it is the perceived consequences of past events, the urgency of present concerns, or the challenges of imagined futures, the structures of time inform our sense of ourselves in myriad ways. The Arts and Humanities Research Council's Care for the Future theme encourages researchers in the arts and humanities to reflect critically on the concepts used to join together the past, present and future, including memory, legacy, heritage and progress. The theme is intended to focus on the unique insights that the arts and humanities can provide into the relationship between the past, present and the future.

Professor Andrew Thompson has been elected the Theme Leadership Fellow. As part of the Fellowship, he provides intellectual leadership and strategic advice on the development of Care for the Future, and takes a lead in building a community of scholars, identifying and developing cross-cutting themes and fostering synergies between thematic activities. His own research project under the theme is exploring the memories, legacies and residues of empire in our modern world with particular reference to the histories of globalisation, humanitarianism and human rights, and post-colonial migrations.

Care for the Future is one of four AHRC themes designed to provide a focus for emerging areas of interest to arts and humanities researchers.