Beyond the Anthropocene: A Political Ecology of Futures

Everywhere we turn we hear about what the future has in store for us—9 billion people on the planet, self-driving cars, food shortages, rising oceans, changing population demographics, energy shortages, energy revolutions, pandemics, political crises, ecological crises, mass extinctions, technological transcendence, personalized medicine, increasingly polluted air, acidified oceans, and on and on. Projections and predictions, visions and aspirations for the future influence action in the present and the shape the landscapes that we are part of. They may at times create what Donna Haraway calls “sublime despair and its politics of sublime indifference” (2016), but they also justify resource allocation and political mobilization (Rajan 2006). Visions of the future are not only performative (Borup et. al. 2006), but reveal how we understand our lived environments, and how we choose to interact with them. Visions of the future reveal shared understandings of what is desirable and what is possible in ways that may tell us as much or more about the present than about what is in store for us. This session explores the material ecological and social responses and reconfiguration in the present that are informed by visions of the future, whether optimistic or pessimistic, dystopian or utopian, and what these visions reveal about our social and material worlds. How are such claims to foresee future circumstances constructed, defended and made actionable? How could opening up spaces for deliberation about these futures shape existing material configurations, power relations, and perceived avenues of action? Who has authority to define possible futures and on what basis? Or, perhaps, how might we think productively about possible futures while “staying with the Trouble?” (Haraway, 2016).


Please submit a presentation proposal ­including a title and abstract of no more than 300 words­ to the session organizers: Tess Doezema ( and Carlo Altamirano ( ) by no later than November 23rd, 2016.




Rajan. K.S. (2006). Biocapital: The constitution of postgenomic life. Duke University Press.


Borup, M., N. Brown, K. Konrad, and H. van Lente. (2006). ‘‘The Sociology of Expectations in Science and Technology.’’ Technology Analysis & Strategic Management 18 (3): 285-98.


Haraway, D.J. (2016). Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press.

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