Over the past ten years, scholars in the social sciences have examined the manner in which people throughout the world, in a vast range of socio-cultural roles and status positions, employ some notion of “future” in their aspirational activities, in their institutional strategic plans, in the manner in which they manifest material objects and technological products, and how they organize their social lives. This workshop Failed Futures will examine how social actors elaborate plans for action on the basis of notions of the future that persistently fail to come to fruition, which have been deemed entirely implausible, or which have been abandoned by dominant hegemonic blocs. It will also examine the manifestation of material objects that signal the failure of imagined futures. As such, it will not presume that a failed future is something that has been left behind in the past, in the wake of more plausible futures but rather something that haunts and mobilizes people in the present. It will examine how failed futures continue to contend with newly hegemonic forms of future thinking and future manifesting and so play a part in the competition between hegemonic blocs within fields of power. This workshop will bring together anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists, historians, and literary scholars to examine the socio-cultural lives of failed futures and the material trajectories they make possible.


The workshop is held only and by invation only.