Accepted paper:

Sustainability/maintenance/endurance: progressive alternatives for future-making in the post-industrial era?

Authors:

Felix Ringel (Durham University)

Paper short abstract:

Different times evoke different relations to the future. Most recent additions look discouragingly conservative: sustaining, maintaining, enduring describe processes that look like preventing change rather than provoking it. But what if they created an otherwise that looks radically like the present?

Paper long abstract:

During neo-liberal times, new tropes for imagining the future have emerged. At first sight, they look discouragingly conservative: sustaining, maintaining, enduring all describe processes that look like they are aimed at preventing change rather than provoking it. However, should we not also take those conserving practices into account as radically progressive alternatives for imagining the future in times of post-industrial shrinkage and decline? If so, what kind of futures do they help us and our informants to envision? And do these futures necessarily have to be 'otherwise' - and otherwise with regards to what: the state of the present or the doomed, dystopian expectations of worse futures? Based on material from Germany's poorest city, a prototype post-industrial city, I explore my informant's seemingly meager and disappointing attempts of stabilizing their present. Hit by a series of post-industrial crises since the mid-1970s, the citizens and officials of this North German habour city have over the last decade tried to build up a fully sustainable economy, and to become a Climate City. This transformation has been stagnant over the last five years. Recently finished economic, ecological and social infrastructures already turn out to be less sustainable than expected, requiring yet further investments. Recent tourist attractions already face closure due to dwindling visitor number. Has the future-city-making failed? Against which other potential past and present futures can we assess this maintained effort of urban revitalisation? And does our current analytic toolkit suffice for that?

panel P070
Possible/plausible/probable/preferable: concepts and techniques for realising futures [FAN]