Obsession with change

Francisco Martínez (University of Helsinki)
Alessandro Testa (Charles University, Prague)
Start time:
31 July, 2014 at 14:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

In our session we aim to explore the multiple and complex connections between Modernity and change. Is there a late-modern obsession with change or is the very idea of change at the core of the Enlightenment project? Change has been idealised to the point of becoming the ultimate utopia.

Long abstract:

Traditional anthropological accounts have focused on resistances to change, as well as on momentum. However, the late-modern world is all about embracing change. Individuals as well as societies are expected to change ad infinitum, compelled to be in motion and overcome histories, trajectories and horizons. Therefore, we set out to map and problematise ideas of change, articulations and assemblages of resistance and momentum, as well as to pay studied attention to the possible social adaptations to such demanding processes, including unfinished and elusive transformations. Changing is never a neutral process. It is always for someone and some purpose, it connects in complex social transactions those who design changes and those who oppose them. We therefore query the articulations between change, societies and utopia and put forward that change might also work as dystopia. Among the questions to be discussed we suggest: - Is change the new late-modern utopia or merely Enlightenment's core? - Change is an ambiguous category; it has also been the source of disaster throughout History. How do we deal today with the dystopic possibilities of change? - Which social strategies and games are developed to produce and counter change(s)? - Can we divide the world into those who design change(s) and those who oppose or suffer change(s)? - Can current European society and politics be approached from the point of view of the radicalization of change? - How does anthropology deal with change as an academic discipline and field of practice?