Platform for City Culture and Public Debate


How Humanity Discovered Its Own Extinction

with Thomas Moynihan & Lisa Doeland

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NOTE! We are moving this event to a new special venue! Instead of the previous location WORM, this event will take place at the Henket pavilion of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. The museum has been closed since 2019 for renovations but will briefly reopen on the occasion of the Rotterdam Architecture Month – see here for more info.

Ticket holders of ‘Snakken naar Boijmans’ can visit this event for the reduced price of €6.

The entrace of the Henket pavilion is located at the Melkkoppad, on the right side of the Boijmans main building and adjacent to the Museumpark and Depot. The entrance can be recognized by a large Rotterdam Architecture Month canopy.

Date: Tuesday 11 June 2024
Time: 20:00 (drinks from 19:30)
Location: Henket paviljoen (Boijmans), Museumpark 18, Rotterdam
Admission: €10,- (regular), €6,- (reduced)
Language: English

From forecasts of disastrous climate change to prophecies of evil AI superintelligences and the impending perils of genome editing, our species is increasingly concerned with the prospects of its own extinction. Less and less does the end of humanity’s future on this planet seem an area of lurid fantasy or remote speculation.  But how did this come about? When did our obsession about the end start? And what does tracing back this history teach us about our current predicament?

As renowned historian Thomas Moynihan (Cambridge University) shows our growing concern with human extinction itself has a history. One that is a surprisingly new and thoroughly modern idea. In recollecting how we first came to care for our extinction, Moynihan reveals how today’s attempts to measure and mitigate existential threats are the continuation of a project initiated over two centuries ago. And that realizing that homo sapiens might disappear – and the physical universe could continue without us – is one of the most important discoveries humans have ever made.

Moynihan will be joined by Dutch philosopher Lisa Doeland. In her recent book Apocalypsophy she claims that the extinction of humanity is not just imminent, but that it has already started, and that there is little point in denying that.

This event is a collaboration with AIR – Architecture Institute Rotterdam and part of the Rotterdam Architecture Month.


Thomas Moynihan

Thomas Moynihan is a historian of ideas and author of X-Risk: How Humanity Discovered Its Own Extinction. His work explores how our knowledge of the threats and promises of the future has developed throughout the past, revisiting the ways people have thought about both the failure and the flourishing of our species within the wider universe. Currently, he is a Visiting Researcher at Cambridge University’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. He tweets at @nemocentric and can be found at

Lisa Doeland

Lisa Doeland is a philosopher. She lectures at the University of Amsterdam and Erasmus University on the climate crisis, green ideology, the Apocalypse and the underground, amongst others. In her PhD she explores the myriad and uncanny ways in which we are haunted by waste. How does the spectre of waste force us to rethink dreams about recycling without remainders within a circular economy? Her essays have been published in many Dutch magazines and journals. Apocalypsofie (2023) is her most recent book.

Hani Salih

Hani Salih is a researcher, writer, editor and curator sitting at the edge of a long list of disciplines and practices; Starting with architecture all the way over to systems and policy. Hani is interested in understanding wider contexts to social and cultural phenomena and is currently doing this through his teaching work in architecture and design education.

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