AAA/CASCA Executive Program Committee
Executive Session - Oral Presentation Session
Abstract: This panel addresses issues of climate, uncertainty, injustice, and the future from understandings rooted in ethnography and the perspectives of anthropologists in different parts of the world. In the context of unequal, highly differential access to resources and of rapidly changing weather, political and cultural climates, the environment itself is a site of rhetorical struggle as right-wing imaginings invite us to see science as “just another imagined possibility” for forecasting. Anthropologists are now looking at science and the humanities to find ways to conceptualize what is ahead of us, engaging also actual and activist struggles. History in particular is a major repository of ways in which the present has taken on particular trends. Speculative fiction, in the form of short stories, novels, films art, and music are now everyday referents not only for the general public but for anthropologists as well. Taking all of this into account, our central questions are: How can the recorded past help us imagine possible futures? How does the past get reconfigured as part of future imaginaries? How can we think of futures characterized by cooperation, collaboration, equity, sustainability, fairness, and justice? How do we imagine alternative futures from the perspective of our discipline, what would those alternatives be, and what is required of us to achieve it? How does theory and how do collaborations with related disciplines help us imagine the future(s)?
We consider the ways in which anthropology allows us to capture not only explicit, programmatic statements for the future, but also those subtle, often contradictory musings about the future as structure-of-feeling: future senses that emerge from present experiences structured by social, political and economic conditions. The future may inspire hope and expectation for some, fear and uncertainty for others. The future might be imagined as a return to the past, the predicted continuation of current trends or the birth of something entirely new.