Accepted Papers:

Anticipating Crisis. Uncertainty and Futures in Making in Iceland  


Marek Pawlak (Jagiellonian University)

Paper Short Abstract:

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Iceland, the paper seeks to explore crisis-driven futures in making. It focuses on the context of imagining and anticipating crisis, which results from recognising the emerging signs of the near past events and practices in the present-day Icelandic landscape.

Paper long abstract:

The economic crisis that hit Iceland in 2008 revealed the existing interdependencies between global forces, local worlds and emplaced practices. Neoliberal reconfigurations of Icelandic political economy and the production of new subjectivities in the 1990s led not only to significant social and cultural changes in Iceland, but also prepared a fertile ground for the crisis-to-come. After the financial bubble burst, many Icelanders faced harsh reality and while experiencing austerity measures and precarisation of lives, they constructed various crisis-driven narratives, strategies and practices of muddling through the post-crisis situation.

Today, Iceland is booming. However, despite the fast recovery, the uncertain future looms large in the present but cannot be fully explored and comprehend. For many Icelanders, the present triggers the memories and experiences of the recent past. Everyday life occurrences, socio-cultural practices and changes in the Icelandic landscape are then seen as reminders of not only "what has happened", but also "what is about to happen". Icelandic Uchronia, introduced by Kirsten Hastrup, seems to be at play here; however, the causation-in-duration is also driven by neoliberal transformations in Icelandic social and cultural imaginaries as well as future-oriented gaze. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and Hastrup's findings, the paper focuses on ways in which Icelanders imagine uncertain futures and anticipate (yet another) crisis. By exploring cultural meanings and social practices in everyday life, I attempt to problematise the relationship between past, present and future as well as move beyond the traditional understanding of crisis as "rupture" or "aberrant" departure from "normalcy".

Panel P054
Anthropology as a tool for discovery: celebrating Kirsten Hastrup's research and professional contributions on the occasion of her retirement