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Paper dreams: traces of unrealised projects as archeology of collective futures [Anthropology of Economy Network] 
Jon Schubert (University of Basel)
Luisa Arango (CEDEJ Khartoum, MEAE - CNRS USR 3123)
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Peter Froggatt Centre (PFC), 03/012
Thursday 28 July, -
Time zone: Europe/London

Short Abstract:

The current ecological, health, political, and socio-economic crises have forced the postponement or shelving of projects at various levels. What kind of traces do unrealised projects leave, and how can we ethnographically explore these? And what possible common futures can be gleaned from these?

Long Abstract:

The current ecological, pandemic-related, political, and socio-economic crises have forced the postponement or shelving of projects at various levels — from individual life projects to research programmes, to larger-scale political agendas and development projects — massively affecting our daily lives for the past two years especially. Yet the restructuring of a development project, or even its failure, is quite a common case, even pre-pandemic, and anthropologists are likely to encounter traces of these "paper dreams" in their fieldwork.

With the advent of a "project culture" largely driven by donors and by the neoliberalisation of development there is a profusion of traces let by these unrealised projects: maps, preliminary studies, project proposals, budgets, amendments, electronic exchanges, rejection letters. Beyond what our interlocutors tell us, these countless documents can tell us a lot about our dreams, hopes and ways of seeing, taming and producing the future.

Focusing specifically on the traces left by unrealised projects, this panel invites papers that explore questions such as:

- How can these traces help us understand hopes and anxieties about our common futures?

- How has rampant "project culture" impacted the production of possible futures? Does it render our approach to the future more rigid?

- Beyond their planetary impact, how have the current sanitary and ecological crises produced new time horizons and different responses to demands for the restructuring or cancellation of such projects?

- How have our own dashed hopes (personal, research funding and data) reshaped our understanding of our 'fields'?

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Thursday 28 July, 2022, -