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Accepted Paper:

Uncertainty by Design: Imagining and Enacting the Future Through Scenarios  
Limor Samimian-Darash (Hebrew University)

Paper short abstract:

I analyze how scenarios express new modalities of knowledge-making and practicing for future uncertainties in the energy world and how new modes of subjectivity are designed, encouraged to accept the uncertainty of the future and work with it through imagination, narration, and simulation.

Paper long abstract:

Humankind has long struggled with the uncertainty of the future, and particularly with how to foresee the future, imagine alternatives, or prepare for and guard against undesirable eventualities. In this paper, addressing he problematization of the different ways in which people conceptualize and act on uncertain futures, I shed light on one particular technology for systematically thinking, envisioning, and preparing for future uncertainties, that of the scenario. The scenario emerged in recent decades to become a widespread means through which states, large corporations, and local organizations imagine and prepare for the future. Regardless of the different ways in which scenarios are created and used, various iterations of the scenario technology all share a common approach to thinking and practicing potential futures: they narrate imagined stories about the future that are intended to help people move beyond their 'mental blocks' to consider the 'unthinkable.'Drawing on a long-term fieldwork project conducted at one of the world's leading energy organizations, I describe how future "global scenarios" are created and implemented in the energy world. In this process, I argue not only new modalities of knowledge-making and practicing are shaped, but also new subjects and modes of subjectivity are designed, and encouraged to accept the uncertainty of the future and work with it through the creation of a new language and new frameworks for addressing it.

Panel P149b
Future imagination, Time and Space: How the Future is being governed by technologies of Imagination in Different social and cultural contexts
  Session 1 Thursday 28 July, 2022, -