Accepted Paper:

Mirroring a world in crisis: emerging utopian/dystopian cultures of a student’s simulation in Bremen  
Oliver Hinkelbein (University of Bremen)

Paper short abstract:

Through the use of an innovative teaching method utopian cultures are elicited from the students. How they experience and react to their uncertain futures is mirrored in the simulations and interactions that they produce. The potential and value of this method is critically assessed.

Paper long abstract:

This paper, based on results of an innovative teaching project, explores emerging utopian/dystopian cultures in the mirror of a world in crisis. In lectures and seminars students study the complexities of culture and economy. A mix of theoretical and empirical work elicits the students’ “own cultures”. At the end of the semester the students meet for a whole day in a simulation game called “one world” where their “cultures” are connected in an interactive way. It is striking that the emerging cultures are “worlds” free of uncertainty, precarity and other markers of a world in crisis. My paper argues that these cultures mirror how students experience a world in crisis and how they react to their uncertain futures with dreams, fictions, utopias and dystopias. On the basis of the contents of these emerging cultures and the interactive dynamics of the simulation game I will show how this can be seen as a way to objectify experiences of uncertainty and make fears communicable. My paper argues that this simultaneously is a way to fictionalize past realities and future expectations. I will explore to which anthropological and daily life epistemologies students relate while producing “a culture”. This includes a critical and reflexive perspective on this process: what does it do for students? How does it contribute to produce a particular understanding of what anthropology studies? These questions lead to answers about the anthropologist’s position when doing anthropology and how innovative teaching methods can contribute to ways how we understand ordinary people’s economic life in a world of crisis.

Panel P011
Innovation and continuity in times of uncertainty: bridging perspectives on economic life