W060
Skeletons in the subjunctive: challenges of studying future(s)

Convenors:
Nanna Schneidermann (University of Cape Town)
Lotte Meinert (Århus University)
Discussant:
Susanne Højlund, Anne Line Dalsgård
Location:
JHT3
Start time:
26 August, 2010 at 11:30
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

This workshop invites papers on alternative ways of thinking about human action in time, focusing on the future or 'the subjunctive' and more specifically on how crises shape futures. Are skeletons in the subjunctive stealing 'the good future', creating generative moments or something else entirely?

Long abstract:

In general, anthropologists investigate and theorize the present of everyday social practice, and its connections to historical, societal, and personal pasts. But how can we do research on and speak in theoretically interesting terms about the future and its connections to pasts and presents? "The subjunctive" is the imaginative, explorative, doubtful, and hopeful mood in action that people employ, as the future emerges as open, unpredictable or threatening; in other words, a temporal space of "what if…?". Crises, personal and contextual, are events that may radically change not only the narrative skeleton of the future, but also the directionality of action. We therefore need to analyze what happens when people's expectations towards the future are shattered by crisis, and it becomes obvious that there are no ways to access 'the good life' in the future. Are imagined futures looming skeletons stealing away (possible) life chances? Or do futures become inspiration to break with the predictable, belief in improvement? Can experiences of crisis be generative moments for possible other futures? We invite papers that present empirical studies and/or discuss theoretical perspectives on analyzing the future, breaking with conventional ideas about human agency in time.

Accepted Papers: