Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Urban, National and Transnational/Global Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students
Primary Theme: Cities
Secondary Theme: The Political
The current rise of authoritarian and protectionist politics at a national and global scale presents a challenge to the democratic potential of the city and city-dwellers. In our various urban field sites, what could be termed a crisis - political, economic, social, personal - is also lived by city officials, publics, and prisoners as it reverberates through their lives, destabilizing the dreamworlds and material futures of urban citizens. But even within this figure of crisis, there exists an everyday practice and politics of producing hope from darkness. Ethnography allows us to locate these hopeful and deviant manifestations of becoming amidst the wreckage of broken municipal promises, postponed urban plans and policies, and government strategies to fix, stabilize, and secure the city.
This panel aims to explore both the tensions and possibilities between everyday practices of future-making and state strategies of temporal and spatial administration. Theories of futurity often limit themselves to the temporal. By theorizing the city’s "pending politics", we aim to territorialize the future, incorporating spatiality into investigations of the not-yet, the imminent, the emergent. That is, we propose to explore the production, (re)distribution, and (re)signification of futures as a central and contested feature of urban politics and city-making. Cities across the world often hold the promise of both radical transformation and quotidian projects of mobility and change. But they are also sites of waiting, delays, bottlenecks, and detours. In that sense, democratic becoming and the hopes attached to democratizing politics may foreclose possibilities even as it works to open them. High hopes and broken promises may discipline subjects, shape their aspirations, or instigate them to revolt. We seek to examine the varied forms by which the future stakes a claim on the present, and to consider how a forward-facing politics shapes the fabric of cities around the globe.
Through this focus on the future’s immanence within the urban fabric, we ask: How are hopes, expectations, and deferrals enveloped within programs of urban governance, and how do they exceed these programs? What new futures emerge in contexts of urban violence and precarity? What kinds of breaks and continuities are made possible as ruptures or returns, detours or redemptions, in the context of urban change? What pasts haunt these futures? How is the future depleted or renewed as a resource for administering and/or transforming the present?