This panel examines the implications of a 'futures turn' and how might an anthropology of media (including design, content, materialities, spaces and practices) enable us to understand how futures are imagined, made, hoped for, contested and lived cross-culturally and in the present and recent past.
A new wave of critical future-focused scholarship has recently emerged across the social sciences and humanities. This field of research, which encompasses anthropology (Collins 2007), has developed in design anthropology (Gunn and Donovan 2012), in the sociology of expectations (Brown and Michael 2003) and through anticipatory practices in geography (Anderson 2010). Media anthropology has intensively explored social change and cultural transformations (Postill, Ardevol and Tenhunen forthcoming), but little attention has been paid to how media are implicated in the ways futures are imagined, projected, predicted or contested. Media, especially in its relationship with digital technologies, are nowadays at the core of most meaningful social transformations, creative and innovation processes. Digital media encompasses new models of social intervention, citizenship, public engagement and knowledge production based on collaboration and sharing, as well as new models of social control and surveillance (Coleman 2010). Which media futures are in dispute? Which futures are embedded in digital media content, design and practices? How are images of the future interwoven with media regarding space, materiality, the sensory, sociality and intimacy? How do media futures change over time and cross-culturally? This panel proposes to examine the implications of a 'futures turn' in media anthropology. How might anthropology of media help us understand how futures are imagined, made, hoped for, and lived in present and recent past. This Media Anthropology Network panel works in collaboration with the Anthropology at the edge of the future EASA Lab, proposed by Sarah Pink, Juan Salazar, Andrew Irving and Johannes Sjoberg.