Foreclosing "conflict": an ethnography of futures at the European Spallation Source
Paper short abstract:
This paper analyses some of the visions regarding ESS - a future spallation facility in the south of Sweden - to address "conflict" as a performance. What can these visions tell us about the ecology of "conflict", its dynamics, and the non/political subject?
Paper long abstract:
The European Spallation Source, or ESS for short, is an upcoming big science facility for neutron-based materials research, currently under construction in Lund, Sweden. When it first reached the public eye, the vision of "ESS in Lund" was received in two main ways. Some welcomed it, dreaming of a future in which the facility would resolve the "grand challenges" of today and secure for Sweden a competitive global position in scientific research and innovation. Others opposed it, anticipating nightmares of radioactive pollution, land degradation and other forms of environmental catastrophe. These two diverging visions of the future were there, as publicly made available in newspaper and in talk, and yet, interestingly, they never entered into "conflict" with one another. The nightmare of living, as one citizen is reported to have put it, like "next to Barsebäck" - the relatively recently decommissioned nuclear power plant in the same region as Lund - was simply over-ridden/written before it could mobilise a force constitutive of "proper opposition". Drawing on ethnographic observation, interviews, and document analysis, this paper explores the practices of foreclosing "conflict" as integral to futuring ESS. What are the important discursive strategies involved in depoliticising the other in this context? How is a foreclosure of "conflict" achieved locally in textually mediated public discourse?
Politicizing futures. When conflicting visions meet