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Accepted Paper:

Living with the future: Pre-figurative transformations for future change in COVID-era climate activism  
Aet Annist (University of Tartu and Tallinn University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper aims to study the transformative and pre-figurative discourses and practices of climate movement, preparing for a different world amidst COVID crisis. These layers of changes and the movement's own theory of change are considered with critical tools from anthropology of development.

Paper long abstract:

This paper will start from the empirical material on creativity and systematicity of transformative and pre-figurative discourses and practices within Extinction Rebellion before and during the COVID crisis. Aiming not only to accept but also to drive profound change due to climate catastrophe, the activists seek ways to apply their ideals for the changed world already in the present, creating future-reaching systems and guidelines for the wider movement.

However, in the course of such efforts, another, unexpected, catastrophe has affected the prospects of and perspectives on change for individuals as well as the movement. These bring along different frames within which to enable and enact the change, and create new challenges as activists, placed amidst intense change, are planning for the next changes they expect to be even more intense.

New rituals to denote commitment to profoundly transformed relations between people, environment and future are triggered in these circumstances. I will aim to analyse these challenges and changes with an eye on the resulting exclusions and inclusions, relations of trust and experiences of conflict. As this research is still in early stages, new trends and theories may emerge in the course of the next months, however, I aim to understand whether the movement's own theory of change and future oriented practices could be analysed with the critical tools from anthropology of development.

Panel Exti09b
Creations of the catastrophes: imagining hopeful and hopeless futures in a collapsing world II
  Session 1 Friday 2 April, 2021, -