After development: critical aesthetics of past futures 
John Manton (LSHTM)
Paul Wenzel Geissler (University of Oslo)
Noémi Tousignant (University of Cambridge)
Playfair Building, Fellows Library
Start time:
22 June, 2014 at 9:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

This panel blends scholarly and artistic approaches to the aesthetic resonances of colonial and post-colonial development, its material consequences, its projections, and its past futures.

Long Abstract:

Development, a set of ideas and practices addressing global spatial inequalities, embodies and encodes futures. Hopes and expectations of change have driven the development enterprise; a conception of the future defines its ethos. Though often technocratic and instrumental, its projections are deeply affective, intimate and ephemeral: while consonant with nostalgia, community mobilization, and the persistence of structural inequality, the style and content of these projections remain stubbornly resistant to scholarly methodologies. Instead, they provoke and demand an aesthetic sensitivity and require an expanded technical repertoire to articulate their emotional resonance.

We invite submissions which interrogate past futures of development - its politics, science, promises, and fantasies - in view of their aesthetic resonances, as compound artefacts conjoining statist or liberatory politics with temporalities and spatialities of beauty, order, harmony and design. Whether interpolating with artistic projects which amplify the aesthetics of hope deferred and repressed, resuscitating and reanimating the forlorn hopes of grandiose colonial development projects, counterpointing the arts of medical dreaming with unfolding public health catastrophe, or foregrounding remains of disrupted revolutions in social organization, we seek a wide range of contributions and welcome methodological diversity. We hope to capture the sublime and grandiose beauty of the development enterprise, its undercurrents of anxiety and desire, and the unease with which we register and propagate this beauty through scholarly and artistic interventions. Finally, we seek to examine what a critical aesthetics of past futures brings to a global critical and methodological project addressing questions of justice, reciprocity and ethics.

Accepted papers: