Alternative Futures – The Journey of Niels Klim to the World Underground

Alternative Futures – The Journey of Niels Klim to the World Underground

As we face an increasing set of intertwined crises—from climate change to economic, social, and political upheaval across the world—is there a need for new imaginations of alternative futures?

2023 marks the 20th anniversary of the Holberg Prize, something which will be celebrated by a series of events throughout the year. This 20 February event also coincides with the convening of the Nils Klim Committee in Berlin.

On 20 January 2023, the Holberg Prize invites the public to a panel conversation on alternative futures, inspired by Ludvig Holberg’s novel “The Journey of Niels Klim to the World Underground”.

When Holberg wrote the novel in 1741, it described a number of imaginary societies, in a satirical science fiction novel critiquing the social and political norms of his time. At this event, Niels Klim’s journey meets contemporary strategies of thinking about futures within various disciplines and forms of research, as we celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Holberg Prize.

The panelists will discuss the following questions:

  • What is the importance of alternative visions of the future?
  • What are their genealogies and contents?
  • Do such visions respond to the multifaceted crises of our times, and if so, in what ways?


Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay is Associate Professor of Global Culture Studies at the University of Oslo , Norway. He leads the European Research Council project CoFutures and the Norwegian Research Council project Science Fictionality, exploring contemporary global futurisms movements from a transmedial perspective. Chattopadhyay runs the Holodeck, a state of the art games research lab at the University of Oslo. Chattopadhyay is the series editor of Studies in Global Genre Fiction (Routledge), and a recipient of numerous awards and prizes, including the prestigious World Fantasy Award (2020). His research website is:

Daria Gritsenko is Assistant Professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies at the University of Helsinki, where she is affiliated with the Aleksanteri Institute and the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS). She holds a PhD in Political Science (2014) and a title of Docent in Environmental Policy (2018), both from the University of Helsinki. Gritsenko’s work focuses on transformation of political governance in response to the changing natural and technological environments. In 2021, Gritsenko was awarded the Nils Klim Prize “for her outstanding research contributions in the intersection between political science, environmental studies and digital humanities.”

Jørgen Magnus Sejersted is Professor of Nordic Literature at the University of Bergen. His primary research interests are Norwegian literature from the 18th and 19th century (primarily Ludvig Holberg and Henrik Wergeland). He has also published on baroque and modern poetry. Sejersted was project leader for the RCN project Ideologies of Holberg (2012–2016) and Chairman of the Norwegian management group for the web text project Collected works of Ludvig Holberg (2010-2015). He is the co-editor of the anthologies Ludvig Holbergs naturrett (2012) and Historikeren Ludvig Holberg (2014). Sejersted has previously been Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Bergen (2017-2021).

Nahum Welang is Associate Professor of English Language – Literature at the University of Stavanger. He is the author of the book The Affirmative Discomforts of Black Female Authorship: Rethinking Triple Consciousness in Contemporary American Culture, and his work has appeared in journals like the Canadian Review of American Studies and The Journal of Popular Culture.



Ástráður Eysteinsson is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik. He has worked in the areas of literary and cultural theory, modernism, and translation studies, and is a practicing translator. His publications include co-translations of most of Franz Kafka’s narrative works into Icelandic, numerous articles in the areas of literary, cultural and translation studies, and four books: The Concept of Modernism (1990), Tvímæli (on translation and translation studies, 1996), Umbrot (on literature and modernity, 1999), and Orðaskil (on literary translation, 2017).

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