This presentation is more an exercise in theorizing history (in this case the dialectics of world-history and utopistic praxis) than in historiography, though I am not sure if the two can really be separated and dualized as such. My concern here is with contested identities (in a world-history context) of not just who we are, but who we can and should be. What attracted me to this panel topic was in fact the ways in which it could accommodate comparative and cross-disciplinary discourses of self and world on one hand and theory and practice on the other. Above all, however, from the standpoint of my applied sociological interest in comparative utopistics, it allowed me to problematize and historicize the taken-for-granted notion of “contestation” itself, questioning whether identities have to be contested, even if they have undoubtedly been so, throughout millennia.



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