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Thursday, December 5 • 10:30am - 12:30pm
BREAKOUT SESSION FIVE: Social Futures

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Chair: Luke Goode

Steve Matthewman and Luke Goode: City of Quakes: Excavating the Future in Christchurch

The Canterbury earthquakes created the biggest urban renewal project in this country’s history. Consequently our oldest city – Christchurch – is also now our newest. The rebuild has witnessed frequent contestations over space, classic ‘right to the city’ arguments over who gets to access it and on what terms. As Christchurch progresses from recovery to regeneration, city debates increasingly incorporate a future orientation: what forms and functions should the future city perform? Thus contestations over time are now being layered upon existing spatialized disputes. These debates are classed, gendered, regional and generational. They are also racialized. In Te Ao Māori, the past is in front of us and the future is behind us. There are profound senses in which the future has already arrived for Māori. The preeminent debates on future-making in Christchurch include guardianship of the residential red zone, how to remove the city’s ‘territorial stigma’ following the March 15 terrorist attacks, and ways to enact intergenerational justice on climate change. As Ngāi Tahu have noted, their tūpuna were red zoned when the settlers came, they are not strangers to state terror, their settlement with the Crown was the culmination of a seven-generation struggle for justice. Finally, it is worth noting the ways in which Canterbury functions as a laboratory for an urban planet facing unprecedented environmental pressures. It is ground zero for the country’s water politics and frontline for a host of environmental hazards from droughts and wildfires to sea-level rise.


Michael Godhe: From ‘Preparedness for the Future’ to ‘Futures Literacy’: Some Critical Reflections

It is timely and encouraging that many actors from a range of fields and perspectives have rediscovered and developed critical perspectives on the future, spanning from NGOs to UNESCO’s ‘Anticipation Studies” with its focus on ‘Futures Literacy’. To be futures literate is “a capability” where the “futures literate person has acquired the skills needed to decide why and how to use their imagination to introduce the non-existent future in the present” (Miller 2018).
It is, however, important to ask questions about where ‘Futures Literacy’ will take us. In this paper, I’m doing a critical reading of ‘Futures Literacy’ through the lens of Critical Future Studies but also through a comparison with an older project for future awareness: ‘Preparedness for the Future’, initiated in 1979 by the government in Sweden. The project collected viewpoints of how school could provide a better preparedness for the future, with teachers, students, experts and public intellectuals as their informants.


Neal Curtis: Relational Imaginaries and Common Futures

Given so many of the problems we face are global and can therefore only have common or collective solutions it is essential for our future security and wellbeing that we imagine anew and reactivate old conceptions that speak to the primacy of our relations with others. Aside from environmental crisis, which requires a holistic approach and speaks to the inherent connectivity and co-dependency of all planetary life, we can also point to ontological crisis and the fragility of worlds or “ways of life”; existential crisis and the threat of terror; economic crisis and material precarity; and epistemological crisis in a media age described as post-truth. In response to these crises I will propose that in the place of the individualised subject of ontology we promote a fundamental being-with; that in place of existential fear we develop a profound conviviality; that we oppose the domination of the idios (private) in economic matters with an advocacy for the demos (public); and that against the catechistic media that preach tribal liturgies we recover the joint knowledge that is the etymological root of conscience. These issues are explored through the work of Martin Heidegger, Paul Gilroy, Judith Butler and others in an attempt to reinvigorate a radical trust that reveals the network of dependencies that underwrites every one of our daily actions.


Nick Lewis and John Morgan: On living in a ‘new’ country: New Zealand’s future imaginaries

Some nations are old. Paradoxically, cultural richness has in many given way to crumbling cultural formations and the contradictory social practices and imaginaries that cut across them. As Patrick Wright observes of England, trapped by its past it lacks the creative resources and political nuance to imagine and deliver progressive social futures. Other places, like New Zealand, feel young and full of possibilities. In this paper, we return to Raymond Williams’ elusive notion of a ‘structure of feeling’ to explore why this is so. As geographers and educators who would profess to be political economists increasingly shaped by the ‘cultural turns’ in our disciplines, we try to sort through the ‘raw material’ of political economy, popular texts and imagery in New Zealand and Britain to search for some ‘better stories’ (Grossberg, 2018) about probable, possible and preferable futures.


Julie MacArthur: Resituating of the Study of Environmental Politics and Policy in Aotearoa New Zealand

Environmental challenges sit at the heart of a series of intersecting crises facing citizens of countries around the world. The causes of these changes are systemic and complex, rooted in worldviews and practices that treat nature and much of humanity as objects to be exploited. New Zealand’s environmental politics and policy setting is both unique understudied, revealing significant gaps, particularly in texts used for undergraduate students. A Treaty-centred perspective is rarely placed centrally in environmental policy-making and decision-making in practice, despite the fact that language about Māori knowledge, interests and rights appears regularly in policy statements. Even less recognized is the need to understand how gendered structures of power shape how we think about environmental challenges and the actions we might take to address them. This chapter presents an introductory overview of a forthcoming edited collection on Environmental Politics and Policy in Aotearoa. We take a systemic view of environmental politics and governance, addressing the philosophical and ideational debates about who and what matters (both human and non-human), the political institutions that embed and enact these ideas, as well as how these both manifest in particular industrial (energy, mining) or biophysical (water, biodiversity) arenas.


Each presentation will be allocated 20 minutes. Additional time for questions and discussion will be available in each stream.