The ongoing brink of transformation - persistent activist aspirations of the same unachieved future

Friederike Faust (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
Justyna Struzik (Jagiellonian University)
Zülfukar Çetin (University of Basel)
Aula 29
Start time:
15 April, 2019 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

The panel explores the persistence of activists in the context of constant unachieved goals. We discuss the role of emotions, technologies and social memory in shaping aspirations of future transformation, and possible aberrations in a linear narration of social movements' success.

Long abstract:

The term "ongoing brink of transformation" describes a phenomenon within social movements across different times and places: Activists find themselves in situations where the aspired future seems to lie within reach but nevertheless remains unachieved. E.g. activists keep on predicting the end of AIDS since decades, without ever having reached this goal. In this panel we will discuss how activists deal with the persistence of this situation, and the role of temporalities and time. We are particularly interested in the interplay of narrations of the past and aspirations of future transformations within social movements. Potential questions include (but are not limited to): - What needs to be remembered and how (e.g. as milestone, momentum) in order to imagine future transformations? What and whose pasts are forgotten or trivialized in order to keep on aspiring? How do postcolonial, economic and geopolitical relations effect the concepts of time, and impact disparities within social movements? - How do emotions and bodily conditions im-/mobilize people to keep on aspiring? - How do devices (e.g. political documents, data visualisations, communication technologies) shape the aspired future? How do inequalities assemble around the access to these devices? - How do activists navigate through desired utopias and anticipated unintended consequences? - Who has the right to define "in which times we are in" (Butler 2008), while other times are marginalized? - What if a linear progress is obstructed by present circumstances and the future appears to "move backwards"; when repetition and reversal replace progress?