International Conference & Workshops:

Hamburg (Insecurity) Sessions: Un-Cancelling the Future


The Hamburg (Insecurity) Sessions are

critical, creative & constructive.

Rather than merely countering threats, the Hamburg (Insecurity) Sessions seek, create and seize opportunities. They fill in the blanks in today’s societies, politics and cultures and address the voids left by the demise of old concepts. The Hamburg (Insecurity) Sessions explore the spaces created by our fast-changing, complex and uncertain world. By doing so, we aim to re-kindle the optimism and belief in the possibility of a better future that are essential for progressive politics – and sustainable security.

The Hamburg Sessions challenge leading thinkers and doers to engage with each other to transform critique into constructive proposals and to push the boundaries of possible policy. They bring fresh thinking to policymakers and allow scholars to better understand the constraints that politicians face. This new event provides sustained engagement between experts and influencers in order to create new solutions to our biggest challenges, identify our best opportunities and imagine new ways to seize them.

Overall Theme: Un-Cancelling the Future:

  1. (No) Future Europe? What EU, what Europe do ‘we’ want – and can ‘we’ still get it?
  2. (No) Future Order, (No) Future Peace? After the Liberal International Order, what?
  3. (No) Future Weapons? Disarmament, Deterrence and Emerging Technologies.
  4. (No) Future World? It’s the end of the world as we know it – should we feel fine?

Un-Cancelling the Future:
Progressive policy needs optimism and the belief that we can make the future better than the present. Yet the prevailing mood in much of Europe and the wider West is pessimistic. European integration and the Atlantic alliance seem under siege. Rising and revisionist powers challenge the ‘Liberal International Order’ and push us deeper into uncertain interregnum. Accelerating technological advancement comes bundled with massive disruption and uncertain side effects. We increasingly worry that is we humans that pose an existential threat to our planet - and to ourselves. How to deal with such challenges?

Traditional ‘security thinking’ makes things worse by applying emergency logic in which there is no alternative, focusing too much on the negative or by merely seeking to defend the outdated and inadequate status quo. Along with the ‘politics of fear’ that has become influential in the West, this can leave us feeling hopeless or helpless, unable to enjoy and build on the progress we have achieved.

Underlying this fearful, pessimistic politics is what the philosopher Franco Berardi has called the ‘cancellation of the future’ – specifically, the cancellation of the progressive future which imagined that subsequent generations will live better than the current one - that our children will live better than we do - and that we can spread this progress to ever more people around the world.

Despite the huge (if uneven) progress that we have made in providing longer, healthier, happier lives, we are disappointed by the failures of political and technological vision, shocked by the downsides of modernity, and stunned by the scale of contemporary challenges and the pace of change. As Rutger Bregman has argued, we may have never had it so good – but we can’t imagine anything better. We can seem immobilised - caught between nostalgia for the past, lost futures and uneasy dreams.  

The Hamburg (Insecurity) Sessions seek to start Un-Cancelling the Progressive Future by bringing together the experts and influencers who can not only analyse and diagnose our most pressing problems but who can outline and implement new visions of peace, hope and progress.

Selected Confirmed Participants in the 2019 Hamburg (Insecurity) Sessions:
Policy & Media (incl.): Niels Annen, Katharina Fegebank, Jeremy Cliffe, Giampaolo Di Paola, Štefan Füle, Jamie Shea, Jiri Sedivy, Robert Hockett, Michal Simecka, Rouven Klein, William Alberque.
Academia (Incl.): Merje Kuus, Mark Galeotti, Jairus Grove, Antje Wiener, Ursula Schröder, Daniel Bertrand Monk, Nina Graeger, Keith Krause, Daniel H. Nexon, Ole Jacob Sending, Elke Schwarz, Nikolas Rajkovic, J. Peter Burgess, Ulrich Kühn, Catarina Kinnvall, Tim Edmunds, Bentley Allan, Anna Geis, Nadine Godehardt, Anatoly Reshetnikov, Benjamin de Carvalho, Lauren Holt, Amin Samman, Dirk Nabers, Sassan Gholiagha, Susanne Krasmann, Delf Rothe, Holger Niemann, Tobias Bunde.