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Imagining and making post-fossil futures 
Lisette van Beek (Utrecht University)
Jeroen Oomen (Utrecht University)
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Combined Format Open Panel

Short Abstract:

Though adept at deconstructing power relations, STS struggles to define its role in building post-fossil futures. Imaginaries of post-fossil futures transpire in activist and artistic practices. What can STS learn from those practices and contribute to imagining and making of post-fossil futures?

Long Abstract:

As carbon fuels are ingrained in every aspect of human life, it is difficult to envision a world beyond the fossil era. Visions of sustainable futures in environmental politics, policy, and even sciences remain strongly technocratic. They remain ‘problem-solving’ (Hammond, 2021), focused on the realisation of quantified targets such as ‘net-zero’ (van Beek et al., 2022). Despite the prominence of apocalyptic imaginaries of catastrophic climate futures, collective aspirations remain captured by twentieth century dreams of material wealth. This imaginative occupation forecloses the imagination of deep cultural transformations.

It is in this cultural space that STS must place its contributions. Though adept at deconstructing power relations and fossil imaginaries, STS struggles to define its role in building post-fossil futures. Yet imaginaries of post-fossil futures do exist. Activists and citizens are becoming increasingly vocal in calling for climate justice. Artists increasingly envision post-fossil futures across diverse practices such speculative design, theatre, and literary fiction. The institutional legitimacy of many political venues is fraying.

In this changing world, what is the role of STS? How can STS move beyond deconstructivism and contribute to the imagining and making of post-fossil futures?

Drawing on the emerging literature on futuring (e.g. Oomen et al., 2021), this panel solicits alternative and emerging practices to reimagine the role of STS scholars in imagining and making post-fossil futures.

It consists of three sessions:

1) Panel: Understanding how do artists and activist practices imagine and make post-fossil futures

2) Live podcast: Exchanging experiences on imagining and making post-fossil futures

3) Futuring exercise: Envisioning what STS could look like in a post-fossil society

We welcome contributions in a range of formats, including but not limited to academic papers, essays, short stories and artistic expressions. Based on the specific contributions we receive, we will organize three tailor-made sessions.

Accepted contributions: