This book reconsiders the power of the idea of the future. Bringing together perspectives from cultural history, environmental history, political history and the history of science, it investigates how the future became a specific field of action in liberal democratic, state socialist and post-colonial regimes after the Second World War. It highlights the emergence of new forms of predictive scientific expertise in this period, and shows how such forms of expertise interacted with political systems of the Cold War world order, as the future became the prism for dealing with post-industrialisation, technoscientific progress, changing social values, Cold War tensions and an emerging Third World. A forgotten problem of cultural history, the future re-emerges in this volume as a fundamentally contested field in which forms of control and central forms of resistance met, as different actors set out to colonise and control and others to liberate. The individual studies of this book show how the West European, African, Romanian and Czechoslovak "long term" was constructed through forms of expertise, computer simulations and models, and they reveal how such constructions both opened up new realities but also imposed limits on possible futures.

chapter |15 pages


Toward a New History of the Future
ByJenny Andersson, Eglė Rindzevičiūtė

chapter 1|22 pages

Midwives of the Future

Futurism, Futures Studies and the Shaping of the Global Imagination
ByJenny Andersson

chapter 2|25 pages

Expertise for the Future

The Emergence of Environmental Prediction c. 1920–1970
ByPaul Warde, Sverker Sörlin

chapter 3|29 pages

Energy Futures from the Social Market Economy to the Energiewende

The Politicization of West German Energy Debates, 1950–1990
ByStefan Cihan Aykut

chapter 4|23 pages

Technoscientific Cornucopian Futures versus Doomsday Futures

The World Models and The Limits to Growth
ByElodie Vieille Blanchard

chapter 5|29 pages

Toward a Joint Future beyond the Iron Curtain

East–West Politics of Global Modelling
ByEglė Rindzevičiūtė

chapter 6|25 pages

Forecasting the Post-Socialist Future

Prognostika in Late Socialist Czechoslovakia, 1970–1989
ByVítězslav Sommer

chapter 7|26 pages

Official and Unofficial Futures of the Communism System

Romanian Futures Studies between Control and Dissidence
ByAna-Maria Cătănuş

chapter 8|23 pages

Virtually Nigeria

USAID, Simulated Futures, and the Politics of Postcolonial Expertise, 1964–1980
ByKevin T. Baker

chapter 9|23 pages

Pan-Africanism, Socialism and the Future

Development Planning in Ghana, 1951–1966
ByJeff Grischow, Holger Weiss