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Performing imaginaries of the future today
Sina Wohlgemuth (University of Bonn)
Gorkem Aydemir-Kundakci (George Washington University)
Björn Herold (University of Konstanz)
Jamie Coates (University of Sheffield)
Time zone:
Wednesday 22 July, 8:30-10:15

Short abstract:

In order to act, people have to imagine a future toward which to travel. Ruptures in the 'normalcy' can interrupt these processes. This panel explores how people perform their imagined futures in the present day, in the tug and pull motion between global meta-narratives of risk and hopefulness. This panel was created by Anna Martini and Anna Vainio.

Long abstract:

Ruptures in the everyday, such as natural hazards, climate change, economic crises, wars, and global terrorism have dominated the global consciousness in recent decades, developing into a landscape where bleak meta-narratives of environmental risks, economic instability and political conflicts have become to dominate public discourses, drawing attention to the systemic issues of residing in global capitalism. Simultaneously, narratives of happiness, hope, and positivity have emerged as antidotes to the instability presented by the perceived stagnation and societal risks, where self-responsibilisation, awareness-raising and ethical consumerism have been raised as sites of risk management and subjective activism. Both of these domains colour the ways in which people imagine their futures on a personal, societal, and global levels.The panel wants to explore, how individuals posit themselves and their futures in relation to these polar meta-narratives, and navigate through life in the socio-economic context of structural risks and stagnation and the alternatives embedded in positivity aimed at empowering the subject. Drawing on foundations such as Lauren Berlant's 'cruel optimism', Ghassan Hage's notion of the 'alterpolitical', and Kathleen Stewart's 'ordinary affects', the panel calls for explorations of everyday imaginaries of the future between the polar narratives bordering the apocalyptical and empowered subjectivity. The panel specifically wants to focus on the performance of individual imaginaries of the future in the everyday contexts and lives of the present day. The panel seeks submissions specifically from researchers working in non-European or comparative contexts, working through ethnographic methodologies on subjects related to imaginaries, futurity, affects and performance.