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Accepted Paper:

Projects for blockchain: common futures imaginaries and the mundane  
Ines Faria (University of Lisbon)

Paper short abstract:

Based on ethnographic and netnographic research this paper explores narratives of blockchain projects, and how they are consolidated, or changed, throughout time. It deals with the tension between dreamt common futures and mundane financial, regulatory and everyday life realities.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores narratives developed as ways to legitimize particular forms of subjective appropriation of blockchain technologies, and how they are consolidated, or changed, throughout time. It deals with the tension between dreamt common futures and more mundane financial, regulatory and everyday life realities.

Based on ethnographic and netnographic research among blockchain projects – initiatives striving for economic and governance alternatives, and financial incumbents’ fintech innovation labs - and on the follow up of such projects for 4 years, I wish to explore the interactions between their imaginaries and the mundane activities and desires that seem to underlie their development and narratives.

I will focus of three cases and kinds of narrative, and their relation with regulatory configurations, speculation in crypto markets, and bureaucratic needs:

a) pragmatics of deceit: a group of people trying to recover an early bought cryptocurrency, and their investment in it, from a pump and dump scheme;

b) libertarian dreams: the design and almost disappearance of a reputation-based virtual society, and

c) the fintech ‘game changing’: financial institutions’ quests for technical improvement and trust through the adoption of a cautious startup-like ethos.

The objective is to open a discussion about socio-technical imaginaries and how they are related to the mundane financial, relational, biographical lives of people in projects. By diving into these questions and into the ethnographic examples above, I intend to explore – and open up for discussion - the relations between imagined common futures, and the ‘here and nows’ of blockchain projects in context.

Panel P28a
Blockchain Imaginaries: Techno-utopianism, dystopias, and the future-imagining of Web 3.0
  Session 1 Monday 6 June, 2022, -