Transitions suggest managed change in the face of disruption, but they also create opportunities for alternative futures. This panel explores how social collectives engage with the imaginaries and practices of transition in a context of changing capitalist relations to nature and labour.
As the world's political and economic systems confront the challenges of automation and climate change, the language of transition is becoming an increasingly common framework for rationalising and operationalising new forms of human interaction with the environment. However, it is a framework that merits analytical scrutiny. Unlike revolutions, the grammar of transition suggests continuity in the face of disruption. It implies a managed process of change that seeks transformation while avoiding unpredictable breaks and ruptures. But transitions are also remarkably ambiguous and strikingly potent. Indeed, the praxis of transition creates junctures within which the pace, scale, and mechanics of socio-environmental change become amenable to critical appraisal. As transition becomes an increasingly widespread heuristic tool for thinking about and preparing for the future, a number of important questions arise: How is the grammar of transition impacting our understandings of future political economies? How is it changing societal relations with the environment? How are private and public interests adapting to ideas about transition? How are transitions becoming objects of public concern and dissent? Do transitions require new institutions or are our current ones able to cope? In response to these sorts of questions, this panel aims to develop a critical anthropological approach to transitions. We welcome ethnographic papers that explore how social collectives (including states, corporations, civil society organizations and communities) conceive of and engage with the imaginaries and praxis of transition in a context of changing capitalist relations to nature and labour.