Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Association for Political and Legal Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students
Primary Theme: The Political
Secondary Theme: Materiality
This panel collects presentations that examine how governments and non-governmental actors (including NGOs, community organizations, entrepreneurs and corporations) prepare spaces for their version of a collective future. On a theoretical level, the motivating idea is to observe and compare the political interface between potentiality and actuality; the interface between what groups propose as a collective possibility and what eventually comes about as a collective reality. Our presenters consider topics such as how Québécois municipalities compete to attract industrial investment through the preparation of technical infrastructure; how the new Telangana State prototypes surveillance apparatuses through state sponsored ‘hackathon’ events; how mining corporations attempt to ‘grow’ their ideal workforce in Nunavut, Canada; how fiscal possibilities are created and obstructed in peri-urban areas of Cochabamba, Bolivia; and how parallel conceptions of citizenship are fostered and negotiated by Aymara merchants in the Chilean and Bolivian Andes. We hope that bringing these cases together will help us to examine the relationship between what Agamben calls constituting and constituted power (1998) thereby allowing us to consider how the potential and actual are conceptualized by sovereign states and how non-state organizations try and prepare different visions of their own future. Drawing on Simondon (1989; 1959), these presentations help us understand how tinkering techniques often make up an important part of the preparation of new collective spaces. We try to show how management plans, infrastructures, blueprints, fiscal projects, and digital prototypes – as complete or incomplete technical objects – shape collective futures by projecting intentions, while highlighting unpredictabilities. An anthropological consideration of preparation will, in sum, consider how diverse groups explicitly, tacitly and politically address the unavoidable uncertainty of the future with the tools, techniques and institutions at their disposal.