Hopeful Living Seminar Series

Associate Professor Martin Mulligan

RMIT University’s Centre for Urban Research is pleased to invite you to Martin Mulligan’s seminar: Hope and Responsibility for Dark Days Ahead.

Seminar brief

In thinking about how we can sustain hope for the troubling times that lie ahead, this presentation will suggest that we can draw from the work of two German Jewish intellectuals—Ernst Bloch and Hannah Arendt—who fled Germany to escape the Nazi holocaust before having very different post-war lives. Bloch found hope in Marxism and rose to prominence in the German Democratic Republic before losing faith in eastern European regimes that crushed individual freedoms in the name of a glorious future. In his unorthodox yet seminal work on ‘the principles of hope’ Bloch wrote about an ‘ontology of the not-yet’ and urged his readers to refocus on the extent to which we are all engaged in future making in the present, within our everyday lives. Having fled to New York with other émigré German intellectuals, Arendt focused on what can go wrong when we fail to take responsibility for things that are done in our name. People who stop thinking critically and independently can find themselves snared within a ‘banality of evil’, she wrote, and she has suggested that hope resides in our efforts to assert political agency, even in the most difficult circumstances. Can we nurture what Bloch called ‘informed hope’ by being more conscious about the future we want to make for ourselves and others while we also take responsibility for the consequences of what might be done in our name? What is the relationship between hope and responsibility? Much has changed since the time of Bloch and Arendt but Arendt’s edict to participate thoughtfully and selectively in some of the communities that are available to us is gaining urgency.

More about Martin

Associate Professor Martin Mulligan is a senior researcher in the Centre for Urban Research at RMIT and a program manager in the Sustainability and Urban planning teaching program. His past research has included a major study of social recovery in the wake of the devastating 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka and southern India and he is currently conducting research on Melbourne’s participation in the Rockefeller Foundation’s  international 100 Resilient Cities program. He is co-convenor of CUR’s Hopeful Living research project which will be hosting a writing symposium on the topic Resilience and Hope in the Anthropocene at RMIT in November.



Image by August Brill via Flickr/CC BY 2.0


RMIT City campus, Building 80 (Swanston Academic Building), Level 7, Room 8


Friday 23 October, 2.00pm-3.30pm


Free entry, booking essential