Philipp Sarasin

1977 - A Brief History of the Present

(German title: 1977)
ca. 600 pages
Philipp Sarasin

Philipp Sarasin

Philip Sarasin, born in 1956, is Professor of Modern History at the University of Zurich.

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A year in the in-between of time

»Focusing on the year 1977 creates the image of profound shifts, changes and ruptures that continue to take effect to this day.«

»1977 was the year in which Western societies began to dismiss modernity in its ›traditional‹ form without knowing what would come next.«


1977 saw the Red Army Faction start its »Offensive 77«, the opening of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the launch of Apple II in California – and the invention of the internet. What do these strange simultaneities mean?

Why was Jimmy Carter talking about »human rights«, were civil rights activists talking about »identity politics«, esoterics about »New Age« and architects about »symbolic forms« simultaneously? Why punk, disco and hip-hop at the same time? And why did Michel Foucault say in 1977: »We must go back to the very beginning.«?

In his book, Philipp Sarasin examines the lines, patterns and similarities that connect these and other events of 1977 with one another – and he shows how the belief in a commonality, which had shaped modernity, began to crumble. 1977. A Brief History of the Present shows us a year in which only uncertainty was certain while the notion prevailed that the old coordinates of the industrial society would no longer be offering any guidance in the future. A phenomenal journey through time into the history of our present.


»Strolling through the thicket of the history of disciplines, one can but marvel at the richness of the associations.« Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Darwin and Foucault

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