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Future horizons, imagination and the anthropocene
Edward Simpson (SOAS)
Niamh Jane Clifford Collard (SOAS, University of London)
Richard Fardon (SOAS)
Climate Change
Friday 18 September, 13:00-14:30

Short abstract:

In the time of climate change, it can seem as if our capacity to imagine the future differently has collapsed. This panel engages with the intersections between imagination, and the emerging anthropologies of futures and the anthropocene, to ask if 'imagination' is useful on a warming planet.

Long abstract:

The world-altering challenges of anthropogenic climate change can be understood as a problem of temporal imaginaries gone awry. As the planet warms, our capacities to imagine the future differently are confronted with the seemingly-intractable dynamics of capital and the global scale and pace of environmental change. Drawing on scholarship which positions 'imaginary horizons' as borders which give shape to, and circumscribe, unfolding reality, this panel asks what imagining the future means in the time of climate change. In engaging with emerging anthropologies of the future and the anthropocene the panel will consider if 'imagination' is up to the task of crafting new, liveable worlds on a warming planet, and how else we might conceive of alternative planetary futures if not through the prism of imagination.

We welcome papers which explore the intersection between imagination, the anthropocene and futures. Key questions include, but are not limited to;

•what ethnography might look like in a time of radically uncertain planetary futures;

•what the relationship might be between imagination and climate change;

•whether imagination is an unevenly distributed social capacity and what this might mean in the anthropocene;

•what kind of social relations give shape to failures of imagination, and how such failures are experienced and thought about in the context of climate change;

•how technologies of imagining the future might be configured differently across social contexts;

•whether imagination can offer new ways of living through the anthropocene, and if not which constellations of future-oriented practices might bring forth new ways of living.