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Wednesday, December 4 • 9:00am - 11:00am
BREAKOUT SESSION TWO: Social Futures

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Session Chair: Luke Goode


Luke Goode and Steve Matthewman: Possible, Probable, Preferable: Contested Urban Futures

This paper introduces the Social Futures stream by sketching out a brief history of futures studies and its relationship to sociology and critical social science. It addresses the question: why ‘social futures’? And it discusses some key conceptual and methodological challenges involved in studying ‘possible, probable and preferable futures’ in relation to issues of agency, structure and unequal power relations. The paper will then relate this discussion to our research project based in Christchurch/Ōtautahi. Following the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, the city rebuild created an unprecedented opportunity for the city’s residents to participate collectively in shaping its future. Initially, the City Council was lauded for its efforts to engage citizens through its Share an Idea process of public “conversations” surrounding future directions for Christchurch. In reality, however, the power to shape the future of Christchurch through policy and practice is very unevenly distributed across different interest groups, communities and demographics. Our research aims to explore and give voice to a diverse range of hopes, fears and expectations surrounding the future of Christchurch among the city’s residents, communities and stakeholders.


Georgia Lockie: Utopia and Desire: Bloch with Lacan

In our contemporary ideological enclosure by ‘capitalist realism,’ a crucial task for the Left is building counter-hegemony. My doctoral research focuses on the counter-hegemonic possibilities of utopia and utopian hermeneutics. Utopia historicises the present, returning us to the plane of history against the eternal present of capitalist realism, and offers ways of thinking the genuinely new. However, utopia is also appropriated by ideology—our desires for better ways of being are captured and neutralised in service of the status quo. The Left’s war of position must also incorporate, therefore, a war of utopia. For Ernst Bloch, utopianism is ontological. He argues, contra Freud, that hunger (conceived broadly), is our most basic drive. The Not-Yet-Conscious—the proto-utopian aspect of the unconscious and part of the ontological basis of Bloch’s speculative materialism—is animated by lack, and its correlative longing. This bears remarkable similarity to Lacan’s theory of lack as constitutive of both the subject and the social, and raises the possibility of utopia as objet a. This presentation will bring Bloch and Lacan into conversation with one another, exploring the implications of this theoretical synthesis for Left counter-hegemony.


Greg Minissale: Schizoanalytic Futures

In many of Deleuze and Guattari’s texts the political economy and the libidinal economy are one and the same. In Chaomosis: an ethico-aesthetic paradigm, Guattari writes: ‘The Freudian Unconscious is inseparable from a society attached to its past, to its phallocentric traditions...Contemporary upheavals undoubtedly call for modelization turned more towards the future and the emergence of new social and aesthetic practices’ (1995: 12). Clearly, what is being mapped here is the cooperation between phallocentric psychoanalysis and the capitalist economy. Perhaps one of the easiest ways to see this is the Barbie doll and Action Man—both consumer products meant to reproduce heterosexual gender essentialism. I argue that for the ‘emergence of new social and aesthetic practices’ to be possible, social futures need to turn away from the authority of the Oedipal past which regulates our present and future actions. Instead, Deleuze and Guattari propose ‘schizoanalysis’, an approach that opens up to a broad heterogeneity of libidinal micropolitics and social relations. In this paper I examine how schizoanalysis brings together aesthetic, libidinal, social and political registers with reference to queer Muslim futurisms. This social, political and aesthetic praxis is particularly urgent in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand where heteronormative culture and toxic masculinity have encouraged high suicide and self-harming rates among LGBTIQ, with alarming figures for bullying at school and on social media.


Wayne Hope: Conflicting Futurities: Time, global capitalism and the Anthropocene


Initially, I set out the case for a new epoch – the Anthropocene – from a geological and earth systems perspective. Then a critical conception of the human - centred Anthropocene narrative will foreground the relations of power and vested interests involved in rapidly escalating greenhouse gas emissions (including CO2). I will also argue that from the late 20th century an epoch of global capitalism took shape. The globalisation of capitalist finance, production, consumption and communication infrastructures coincided with the globalisation of carbon capitalist footprints. Transnational value chains of energy extraction, electricity generation, production, supply networks and commodity consumption represent a convergence between the earth – human Anthropocene and global capitalism. Against this background, I will consider the complex uncertainties of global climate change scenarios arising from interacting causal linkages associated with a depleted, artificial biosphere, biodiversity loss, ice cap contraction, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, unruly weather and climate, fragile agricultural systems, declining food security, new unequal suffering, social instability and violent geopolitics. My general argument here is that the difficulty of determining these scenarios stems from certain conflicts and obfuscations of time. Thus, the growing scientific certainty concerning anthropogenic temperature rise and greenhouse gas emissions conflicts with the growing uncertainty as to how greenhouse tipping points will play out across ecological, economic, social and political realms. Additionally, concerns about the future of generic humanity conflicts with the need for an appreciation of coeval communication and its denial. In the latter context, greenhouse gas scenarios can be seen through the lens of plutonomy, socio-economic immiseration and the displacement of surplus populations. Finally, I will argue that these insights in regard to global futurity are obfuscated by financial and corporate constructions of climate change risk.


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

Presenters
avatar for Greg Minissale

Greg Minissale

Associate Professor, University of Auckland
Greg completed his PhD in Art History at SOAS, University of London. Research is centred on Deleuzoguattarian approaches to contemporary art, cognitive psychology, Heidegger, new materialism, queer theory. He is author of Images of Thought, Visuality in Islamic India 1550-1750 (Newcastle... Read More →
avatar for Luke Goode

Luke Goode

@LukeGoode@FuturesUoA