Ecole normale supérieure de Lyon
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Sociology

Unfolding Futures

Conference by Pr Richard Rottenburg
Le December 8, 2017
10h00 - 13h00
Place(s) :
Descartes Campus - 15 parvis René Descartes - Lyon - Debourg Station
Salle D 8.2016
Richard Rottenburg.jpg
Pr Richard Rottenburg holds a chair in anthropology at the University of Halle, where he heads a research group focusing on the anthropology of "Law, Organization, Science and Technology" (LOST). His conference will take place during the "Séminaire du LADEC 2017-2018: Incertitudes, frontières, nature & politique".

Human affairs depend on a certain level of predictability and are characterized by a quest for certainty in the face of an ultimately insurmountable uncertainty about the future. Anticipatory knowledge practices are about prediction, prognosis (forecasting), premonition, Imagineering and moralizing. Futures seem to emerge out of past and contemporary practices of world-making that are guided by all those forms of anticipatory knowledge. In this sense futures are being designed. Modernity was characterized by its hope in its capacity to design the future, yet this hope has always been accompanied by the fear of its catastrophic trajectory. Many contemporary debates polarize between positions that proclaim the end of the mislead hope to design better futures and those that proclaim an ever-increasing sophistication in designing the future.

In this talk I will follow a pragmatist approach and rather ask about practices of future making. This approach tries to avoid the binary between control vs. out of control, or designing vs. unfolding. I will argue that some practices geared towards keeping existing socio-technical arrangement going still have far reaching implications for the unfolding of futures. Three sets of practices that are intertwined and relevant in this context can be named as “infrastructuring”, “ontologizing” and “accounting”. I will try to make my argument plausible by using examples from intersections between law and health.

Contact: Frédéric Le Marcis [at] ens-lyon.fr

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