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Predictions can be very difficult, especially about the future.

– Niels Bohr


‘Q2: The Space-Time of War and Diplomacy’, the second annual Q Symposium of the Centre for International Security Studies, will be held 26-28 March 2015.


Q2 begins with the Q Lecture, ‘Exit to the Planetarium’ presented by Professor McKenzie Wark, which will be held at the Quadrangle of the University of Sydney at 6 pm on Thursday, 26 March. The following morning participants will board a ferry at the Circular Quay for a two-day symposium at the historic Q Station, the former quarantine site of Sydney Harbour.


Peace and security scholars as well as physicists and philosophers, diplomats and soldiers, journalists and filmmakers, historians and futurists, among others, will gather to re-interpret the space-time of war and diplomacy in the context of WW1, the interwar and the emergence of quantum theory.


Q2 takes a step back to the future to mark the dual centennial of WW1 and the coeval emergence of quantum theory, from which we will seek lessons to advance current understandings of peace and security. WW1 will be examined as a thought experiment, to interpret how classical conceptions of space (Empire, Mitteleuropa, Lebensraum) and time (mobilization schedules, slow negotiation, quick war) converged into something wholly new, a relativized space-time of actors unexpectedly entangled in a war of unpredicted expansion and indeterminate duration. Q2 will not only explore counter-factual scenarios but also disturb histories of the present that project from past wars justifications for future ones.


Centennials offer a convenient opportunity to reflect on memorable events like WW1. But the effort to memorialize can ossify the past, forestall change in the present, and curtail new visions for the future. One hundred years is a sufficient interlude to consider how political, cultural and scientific revolutions triggered by WW1 changed everything but – to paraphrase Albert Einstein – our way of thinking about peace and security.


Q quarantines the best critical thinkers and innovative practitioners, questions the assumptions of traditional security studies, engages in quality transdisciplinary research, and addresses quantum global events. Thought experiments will be supplemented by philosophical and historical inquiry, field experience and empirical research, and cinematic imaginaries and dreamtime.


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