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Accepted Contribution:

The Labour of Hope: Luck, destiny and risk in the global supply chain of brown shrimp  
Femke Vulto (University of Oxford)

Short abstract:

In the global supply chain of brown shrimp, notions of ‘luck’, ‘destiny’ and ‘risk’ inform social imaginaries of the future and produce multiple concepts of ‘hope’. This paper investigates how hope shapes the reproduction and transformation of this supply chain in the face of ecological disaster.

Long abstract:

Within the global supply chain of brown shrimp, social and ecological crises converge. In 2022, many actors are involved in developing technoscientific solutions that can make the brown shrimp trade more ‘sustainable’ and just. Based on 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork in the Netherlands and Morocco, where brown shrimp are fished and peeled respectively, this paper investigates how forms of ‘hope’ are multiple in this supply chain. Notions of ‘luck’, ‘destiny’, and ‘risk’ inform how actors situated differently within this supply chain imagine the future; whereas Dutch fishers mobilize luck to account for uncertainties in everyday life, Moroccan shrimp peelers evoke destiny to construct a narrative about their precarious livelihoods. Corporate managers, in contrast, draw on the concept of risk to capture the unpredictability of the future. These concepts entail distinct understandings of the future, actors’ agency in shaping it; by extension, they give shape to ‘the labour of hope’ (Elliot, 2016) in which actors engage. ‘Hopeful’ attachments to the future inform specific ways in which actors are invested in on-going technological innovation and imbue such practices with an ethical sensibility. However, whilst ‘hope’ is multiple, it is also unevenly distributed. This paper argues that more ethnographic attention is needed to understand how concepts such as ‘luck’, ‘destiny’, and ‘risk’ inform the ways in which hope is materially enacted; such understandings can deepen our understanding of how divergent ‘cosmological’ concepts motivate contemporary technoscientific world-making projects.

Combined Format Open Panel P189
The ends of hope: post-optimistic futures worth working towards
  Session 3 Friday 19 July, 2024, -