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P225


Existential threats and catastrophes in the everyday: from the global to quotidian 
Convenors:
Richard Tutton (University of York)
Jennifer Chubb (University of york)
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Format:
Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

This panel challenges elite framings of existential risk, the threat of ecological catastrophe or civilizational collapse and addresses ‘everyday’ catastrophes and threats and how people negotiate complex interactions between their everyday lives and universalizing threats and risks.

Long Abstract:

We are regularly confronted with claims about existential risk, the threat of ecological catastrophe or civilizational collapse, as consequences of technoscientific and technoeconomic developments. Such claims clearly have a performative effect, garnering significant media and political attention and resources to elite institutions which seek to speak for the interests of humanity as a whole. Examples include The Future of Humanity Institute or the Future of Life Institute, which are influential in publicly defining long term risks and threats. This panel takes these developments as a point of departure for contributors to examine and challenge such elite framings and to address how technoscientific risk and threats are experienced by different social actors. We invite papers that consider ‘everyday’ catastrophes and threats encountered by people, for whom catastrophes are not necessarily a future event but an immanent feature of their past or present lives. In doing so, this panel is guided by the work in STS by Michael (2017) on the relationship between ‘big futures and little futures’ and in sociology of futures by Coleman and Lyon (2023) on ‘everyday futures’, which focuses on ‘quotidian imaginations and makings of futures’. Further to the claims and counterclaims of great societal transformations, this panels asks: who has the power to narrate catastrophe, collapse or existential risk? Who and what is marginalized or discounted by such hegemonic framings? What is entailed in recasting existential risk otherwise: not a ‘global scale’ but in relation to individuals, communities and places? How are marginalized or impoverished people negotiating a sense that their everyday existence is being disaffirmed by technoscientific and technoeconomic changes? How are ‘everyday risk and threats’ understood, felt and acted upon through everyday actions? How do people make sense of and negotiate the complex interactions between their everyday lives and universalizing threats and risks?

Accepted papers:

Session 1