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The project form—a goal-driven approach to planning, resource allocation, and task coordination—is one of the most pervasive political technologies in the world today. This panel explores when and how the time management of projects intersects with, and conflicts with, other social temporalities.
This panel seeks papers that draw on ethnographic research to interrogate the temporal logics of projects. The project form—a goal-driven approach to planning, resource allocation, and task coordination—is one of the most pervasive political technologies in the world today. At different scales and to different degrees, social worlds are touched by: government projects, development projects, activist projects, research projects, work projects, group projects, school projects, reform projects, pilot projects, and so on. Beyond their ubiquity, however, projects are also marked by timelines and planning horizons. In their typical manifestation, projects are meant expire once their goal has been achieved (or the money runs out). This panel thus encourages submissions that critically examine the social effects and political consequences of project-based existence. How do projects succeed (and fail) in regimenting the temporality of social life? What happens when the time management of projects intersects with, disrupts, or comes into conflict with, other social temporalities? And, what happens to social life in the wake of projects, for instance, when "temporary" inventions produce "permanent" realities, as when a refugee camp transforms into a slum? In considering these questions, the panel also seeks to reflect on the legacies of project logics within anthropological theory. For example, how do anthropological accounts of governmentality draw on and reproduce the logics and temporalities of projects? Thus, in contextualizing the temporal logics of projects alongside other social temporalities—those within, beside or that exceed projects—how might we expand an anthropological optics on politics in the present?