CFP> Where Next? Historical Geographies of the Future (via @CritGeog )

This looks really interesting, and if I were going to the RGS conference I’d submit something to be considered –>

Where Next? Historical Geographies of the Future

Jake Hodder (Nottingham) and Mike Heffernan (Nottingham), sponsored by the Historical Geography Research Group

Call for Papers – RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, London, 30 August – 2 September 2016

How historical subjects have imagined their futures is crucial to understanding their pasts, and invariably reflects a wide range of geographical as well as historical imaginations. Likewise, many key areas of geographical enquiry (such as development, environment, geopolitics, imperialism, political economy) draw significance in part on their ability to lay claim to ideas of the future, implicitly or otherwise. Yet the role played by these collective speculations is seldom directly addressed and their contingent nature makes it difficult to reconstruct their full rhetorical strength.

Until recently, therefore, historical accounts of ‘the future’ have been predominantly shaped by ideas of the ‘distant future’. Distant in both the sense of time, ambiguously blending science and fiction (the future of ray guns and spaceships), and distant in the sense of ideals, realised or lost (the future of utopias and dystopias); but what of our other sense of the future? What has been the role played by the idea of the immediate ‘knowable future’? A future which attends more closely to possibility and prediction than to fantasy and utopia.

2016 marks a pertinent time to reflect on the relevance of these questions for geographers, as historians have also recently done (Engerman 2012; Rosenberg and Harding 2005), and ask where next? This year marks the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s Utopia in Latin; and two related, and much anticipated, exhibitions are currently running at The Louvre in Paris (24 September 2015 – 4 January 2016) and Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels (11 September 2015 – 24 January 2016) entitled A Brief History of the Future, based on the 2006 international bestseller by Jacques Attali of the same name. This session invites papers from across the discipline which examine ‘the future’ in its varied manifestations (political, personal, and technological) and may wish to engage some of the following questions:

• What are, and what have been, the geographies of the future – what geographical ideas have shaped future consciousness and from where?
• How have different historical moments or events fostered speculation of other futures?
• What is the relationship between experience and expectation, and how have ideas of the future shaped everyday lives?
• How have conceptions of the future intersected with political, scientific, economic or cultural ideas, or with other areas of geographical interest?
• What are the historical geographies of prediction and other ‘future-making’ practices – surveys, statistics, social trends, forecasting?

Please send your name, title and abstract (300 words) to both conveners by Friday, February 12th.

Reblog> Space, Power and the Commons: new book in Place, Space and Politics series

Clive Barnett on a new book out edited by Samuel Kirwan, Leila Dawney & Julian Brigstocke… all smart people so well worth a look!

Space, Power and the Commons: new book in Place, Space and Politics series

9781138841680The latest book in the Routledge Research in Place, Space and Politics series is now published (technically it is a 2016 book) – Space, Power and the Commons: The struggle for alternative futures is edited by Sam Kirwan, Leila Dawney and Julian Brigstocke, and is associated with the Authority Research Network. It’s an important addition to the literature on the theme of ‘the commons’, not least because it draws together discussions of high theory on this topic (Hardt, Nancy, Ranciere, etc) with empirical analyses of practices of ‘commoning’.

This is the second title to appear in the Place, Space and Politics series, after the collection on Urban Refugees. There are more titles in the pipeline. More details on the series, including guidelines for submitting proposals, can be found here and here.

Projecting a genuine future for the living? On Latour & Stiegler comments after the Paris attacks

I was quite surprised at how quickly the translation of the short interview with Bernard Stiegler in le Monde spread on twitter, which is not usual for my posts…

Anyway, I have been struck by a similarity in ethos between the comments made by Bernard Stiegler in his interview and the commentary provided by Bruno Latour in an op-ed (translated by Jane Kuntz) for Reporterre, entitled “The Other State of Urgency” [via Installing (Social) Order].

It is an ethos of calling for the casting-off of a short-termism or ‘death-wish’ (pace Latour) focussed on (inadequately mitigating) destruction—destruction of states, of peoples and of our planet—towards affirming what Stiegler calls a ‘genuine’ future and what Latour sees as a taking of fate into our our hands. One might see it as a loosely vitalist ethos: an affirmation of life and its pluri-potency.

It seems to me significant that both Latour and Stiegler frame the issue in relation to the anthropocene and the COP21 talks being held in Paris. For both of them, the affirmation of a ‘genuine’ future entails combining stances towards ecological, economic, political and scientific atmospheres. Such an affirmation of a sustainable path towards a future of the living is set in contra-distinction to a rhetoric of war, which both thinkers reject in their own ways. To submit to war, in the manner of the French government, is to submit to a short-term imperative to (re)act, but to act for whom and to what ends is a question both Latour and Stiegler find troubling. It is analogous to government via catastrophism – such forms of reaction are already presumed in the mode of ‘normal’ operation: the ‘everywhere war’ and ‘state of exception’ is the new ‘normal’.

Who could argue against an affirmation of hope? I certainly would not. Yet, while there is plenty of diagnosis of the ‘state of urgency’, we are left to ponder: what is to be done?

I don’t think I buy Stiegler’s eurocentric call for policy, it is too easy to see how–even with the best of intentions–this would slip into the kind of technocratic malaise that has buggered up the Mediterranean EU countries. Yet, at least Stiegler attempts to offer strategies – and I think the wider outlining of a political-economics of contribution and of a kind of ‘neganthropy‘, while somewhat grandiloquent, remain inspiring. I would be very curious to see what Latour would suggest in order to “invent demonstrations more innovative than yet another march from Place de la République to Place de la Nation.”

It is, of course, excruciatingly hard to offer strategies for action – as Zizek likes to quip: we can see why it has been suggested that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than an end to the ideological milieu of capitalism. Working for a ‘genuine’ future hurts, but as both Latour and Stiegler demonstrate: it remains the task at hand.

Reblog> Submit your papers! Philosophy and the future

This looks really good!

Submit your papers! Philosophy and the future

Chiasma, an open-access philosophy journal, is now accepting submissions for their third issues. The deadline is December 15, 2015.

Read the full CFP below.

Chiasma Issue 3: Philosophy and The Future

Philosophy, being untimely, is inexorably embedded in time, dedicated to the future. For Chiasma’s third issue, we will look for essays engaging with the future – as an object for philosophy, as a hermeneutic of philosophy, and also in terms of the future of philosophy – from an interdisciplinary background.

As Nietzsche writes in Untimely Meditations, philosophy is always “acting counter to our time, and thereby acting on our time, and, let us hope, to the benefit of a time to come.” Essays should focus on, first and foremost, the “time to come,” but also the various ways in which this “to come” affects the now. The future is not merely an ever-receding horizon, but also an immanent object of thought that is itself conditioned by past and present. We invite submissions that explore these and other modes of thinking the future.

Some possible topics include:

  • Philosophies of becoming and event: Badiou, Deleuze, Malabou, Nietzsche, Whitehead
  • Futures of the human: transhumanism, posthumanism, hyperobjects, extinction
  • Ecology and eco-criticism
  • Rhetorics of the future: futurity in capitalist rhetoric, critique of the future as figure, the cultural role of futurity (Marx, Edelman, Zizek)
  • Messianism and non-messianism: Benjamin, Butler, Derrida, Laruelle
  • Utopianism and utopian studies
  • Speculative fiction, science fiction, Meillassoux’s extro-science fiction, future histories
  • Missed futures and lost causes
  • Contemporary divergent futures: intersectionality in critical theory, ontological difference in ethnography and ethnology
  • Revolution and new forms of social action: Occupy, Zapatista, etc.
  • Future of the university: corporatization of the university, crisis of the humanities (Eileen Joy, Henry A. Giroux), alternative academic programs and modes (European Graduate School, New School, Global Centre)

 

Essays should be 5,000-7,000 words long and formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style. Please send papers with abstracts of no more than 150 words tochiasma.asiteforthought@gmail.com by December 15.

Reblog> New paper: Anticipatory Logics of the Global Smart City Imaginary by @jimmerricks

Over on the programmable city website there’s news of a new paper by Jim Merricks White on the anticipatory logics of smart cities… I have previous here so it’ll be an interesting read!

New paper: Anticipatory Logics of the Global Smart City Imaginary

Jim White’s paper, ‘Anticipatory Logics of the Global Smart City Imaginary’, is available for download on the Social Science Research Network as Programmable City Working Paper 8.

Abstract

The smart city encompasses a broad range of technological innovations which might be applied to any city for a broad range of reasons. In this article, I make a distinction between local efforts to effect the urban landscape, and a global smart city imaginary which those efforts draw upon and help sustain. While attention has been given to the malleability of the smart city concept at this global scale, there remains little effort to interrogate the way that the future is used to sanction specific solutions. Through a critical engagement with smart city marketing materials, industry documents and consultancy reports, I explore how the future is recruited, rearranged and represented as a rationalisation for technological intervention in the present. This is done across three recurring crises: massive demographic shifts and subsequent resource pressure; global climate change; and the conflicting demands of fiscal austerity and the desire of many cities to attract foreign direct investment and highly-skilled workers. In revealing how crises are pre-empted, precautioned and prepared for, I argue that the smart city imaginary normalises a style and scale of response deemed appropriate under liberal capitalism.

Keywords: smart cities, the urban age, anticipation, risk

[pdf download]

Reblog> Why Africa is the new home of science fiction

Interesting stuff detailed by the inimitable James Bridle. Lots to explore here…

Why Africa is the new home of science fiction

Wordsmack, a speculative fiction publisher dedicated to digital platforms, is the latest project to join the African SF boom

Lauren Beukes

Anthology series Something Wicked features the likes of Lauren Beukes, above, in its archives. Photograph: Ulrich Knoblauch

A few years ago, I got very excited about Afrocyberpunk, a blog by Jonathan Dotse out of Accra, Ghana. The stories he posted suggested a strange and an exciting future for science fiction, proposing “not the science fiction of your grandfather or the Foundation of your Asimov” but “the dystopian gloom of failed states, the iron rule of corruption, cartels snaking cold fingers into the upper echelons of government, and hi-tech gangs of disillusioned youth”. While Dotse’s own novel has yet to see the light of day, he and others have been active in a number of ventures, online and off, to make this vision a reality.

One of these is Jungle Jim, an African pulp fiction magazine, which, despite only being available as a beautifully designed print edition, provides a great jumping-off point for exploring multiple genres. Jungle Jim’s writers include Nnedi Okorafor, whose story “The Go-Slow”, published at Tor.com, blends magical fantasy into downtown Lagos traffic jams; Diriye Osman, who chronicles the lives of African LGBT kids in Somalia and London in stories such as “Earthling”; and Dzekashu MacViban, editor of Cameroon’s Bakwa magazine. Another is Something Wicked, South Africa’s first SF and horror magazine turned anthology series whose archives include short works by Sarah Lotz and Lauren Beukes, two South African authors who have found fame with dystopian future-fiction works in The Three and Moxyland respectively.

The most recent addition to the club is Wordsmack, a speculative fiction publisher dedicated to digital platforms. Publishing across Kindle, Kobo and iBooks, Wordsmack’s titles include young adult fantasy and techno-thrillers. A recent event, A Future Jozi, brought together three of their authors – Abi Godsell, Mico Pisanti, and Jason Werbeloff – to discuss why “Johannesburg is the best city in which to base the stories of our sci-fi rebels, our mutant karp”. Plenty of writers seem to agree with them.

Reblog > Critical look at ‘Smart’ Cities, or – “Beware the smart people”

This event blogged by Mark Purcell looks interesting…

See original here, and copied below.

Invitation to Symposium in Berlin June 19th and 20th, 2015:
 
Beware of Smart People!
Redefining the Smart City Paradigm towards Inclusive Urbanism
The current debate about Smart Cities is strongly influenced by technological and application-oriented hard perspectives that predominantly materialize through the insertion of smart infrastructures into existing urban systems. Citizens (as individuals) and urban societies (as bodies) remain passive beneficiaries, end users or consumers.
This smartification of urban management is contrasted by increasing demands made by civil society and urban social movements towards greater inclusion in decision-making: New urban actors acquire new agency through local knowledge, expertise, creativity, social networking skills and collaborative capabilities, or social entrepreneurship.
The symposium addresses the conflictual reality in which Smart City approaches are currently unfolding. International scholars and practitioners will
•  Reflect on the “Smart City” as a contested paradigm;
•  Shift the discourse towards the notion of the urban as co-produced by many voices;
•  Attempt to redefine “Smart City” by putting ordinary citizens as “Smart People” at the core
   of the debate.
Confirmed Speakers:
Gautam Bhan (IIHS Bangalore)
Mark Deakin (IIDI Edinburgh)
Adam Greenfield (Urbanscale, London)
Friederike Habermann (Writer)
Gudrun Haindlmaier (TU Wien)
Colin McFarlane (Durham University)
Adegboyega Ojo (NUI Galway)
Saskia Sassen (Columbia  University)
Ola Söderström (UNINE)
Alberto Vanolo (UNITO)
Vanessa Watson (University of Cape Town)
The symposium is organized by
TU Dialogue Platform Smart People & Urban Commoning
Jörg Stollmann, Chair for Urban Design & Urbanization
Sybille Frank, Chair for Urban and Regional Sociology
Angela Million, Andreas Brück, Chair for Urban Design & Urban Development
Philipp Misselwitz, Habitat Unit – Chair for International Urbanism and Design
Johanna Schlaack, Center for Metropolitan Studies
Carolin Schröder, Center for Technology and Society
If you are planning to attend the symposium, please register by e-mail before June 10th: 
TIMETABLE AND LOCATIONS:
Day 1
Another City is Possible: Practices of the Minimum Viable Utopia
Friday, June 19th, 7 pm
Czech Center / Tschechisches Kulturzentrum, Wilhelmstraße 44, 10117 Berlin
Welcoming address by Christine Ahrend (Vice President for Research, TU Berlin),
Keynote by Adam Greenfield (Urbanscale, London),
with Vanessa Watson (University of Cape Town) as respondent.
Day 2
Redefining the Smart City Paradigm towards Inclusive Urbanism
Saturday, June 20th, 9.30 – 7 pm
TU Berlin, Main building, Lichthof, Straße des 17. Juni 135,
10623 Berlin
9.30 am
Registration
10.00 am – 10.20 am
Introduction by TU Dialogue Platform Smart People Urban Commoning
10.20 am – 12.20 pm
Session 1:
PRODUCTION
Urbanizing the Smart City
Chair: Johanna Schlaack /  Angela Million / Andreas Brück
Panelists:
Mark Deakin (IIDI Edinburgh),
Saskia Sassen (Columbia  University),
Alberto Vanolo (UNITO)
13.30 – 15.30 pm
Session 2:
MANAGEMENT

Smart People and Urban Governance
Chair: Carolin Schröder / Philipp Misselwitz
Panelists:
Gudrun Haindlmaier (TU Wien),
Adegboyega Ojo (NUI Galway),
Ola Söderström (UNINE)
16.00 – 18.00 pm
Session
3:
PRACTICE

Space Production and Practices of Urban Commoning
Chair: Sybille Frank /  Jörg Stollmann
Panelists:
Gautam Bhan (IIHS Bangalore),
Friederike Habermann (Writer),
Colin McFarlane (Durham University)
18.15 pm
Final Roundtable

Placing computation: the informatics of anticipation

I wrote an outline for a paper/chapter for a proposed book and related conference edited/convened by F. Xavier Olleros and Majlinda Zhegu at Université de Québec à Montréal which they have kindly accepted. So, I will be fleshing out the following over the summer. Obviously, I owe an intellectual debt to Rob Kitchin here but I’d like to think that I am substantively developing some of the themes of his code/space work (with Martin Dodge) through my own reading of Bernard Stiegler’s philosophical project. In particular, I am developing some of my ideas about the politics of anticipation (from my PhD work) through Stiegler’s theorisation of the ‘industrialisation of memory‘ and the ‘eventisation‘ capacities of increasingly data-driven commercial industries.

This paper addresses the transformative sense in which computation has become an infrastructure upon which has been founded mechanisms to both support and intervene in how we live our everyday lives. The past two decades have witnessed a steady movement of the capacity of digital computation away from spaces dedicated to housing the apparatus of computing—such as the computer centre and the home office—towards a diffusion of that capacity into a variety of everyday places (in the global North). A number of authors have both predicted and described the ways in which computation has moved from dedicated places for bulky apparatus into a capacity available through interconnected devices and systems in an increasing number of contexts (Greenfield, 2006; Kitchin, 2011; Kitchin and Dodge, 2011; Mitchell, 1995, 2000, 2003; Shepard, 2011; Rheingold, 2002; Weiser, 1991). Large-scale computing apparatus have not been eliminated, in fact they have increased in number in the guise of data centres, server farms and so on, but the capacity for the interconnection of those resources through international telecommunications infrastructures to large numbers of portable and embedded devices has transformed the scope and reach of computation (Graham and Marvin, 2001; Graham, 2004, 2005). The purpose of this paper is to interrogate the ways in which this widespread infrastructure of computation is being used not only to both support and surveil increasing amounts of everyday activities, through the collection and retention of vast quantities of data, but also to anticipate and intervene into how we perform the everyday.

Increasing amounts of information about ourselves and others is harvested and stored using electronic devices and we volunteer even more information to email providers, search engines and social networking systems. Many aspects of our everyday lives are now gathered in a range of contexts and recorded (via CCTV, cellphone networks and so on) and retained in databases (Agre, 1994; Graham, 2002; Haggerty and Ericson, 2000; Murakami Wood, 2008), as a growing system of memory of life otherwise forgotten or unthought. These systems are increasingly involved in the ways in which we convene and perform a sense of place. If places are spatial contexts that we convene and give meaning through particular kinds of activities or arrangements of various people and things, then the ways in which we perform that sense of place can be understood to be increasingly mediated by digital technologies. We use mobile devices to search commercial systems for information about and navigate to locations, relying upon travel instructions and databases of past experiences of those places. We allow those systems to use data about ourselves to recommend the ways in which we might act in those locations, where we might eat, shop or socialise. Furthermore, especially in urban environments, we are subject to the regulation of particular locations through real-time analytics based upon infrastructures that gather data for city governments. Infrastructures of software and hardware thus have a growing agency in how we collectively communicate, remember and conduct ourselves socially.

The gathering and recording of data and volunteered information through the expanding computational infrastructure facilitates the ordering of time both as forms of history, and thus the sharing of knowledge and culture, and as the means of anticipating, planning for, and perhaps preventing, futures. The logic of retained knowledge is thus ‘programmatic’ and has arguably become more so with the advent of software programmes, which have augmented our capacities to remember, process and act upon information. Furthermore, these infrastructures increasingly anticipate, in real-time, the ways in which we will behave in order to inform how commercial and governmental organisations intervene in and regulate how a variety of urban environments function. The production and performance of cities, then, increasingly ‘takes place’ in concert with a host of quasi-autonomous computational agents, regardless of whether or not we are aware of it.

To investigate the transformative nature of the anticipatory capacities of a growing number of computational infrastructures embedded within our everyday lives this paper proceeds in three parts. In the following, second, section several technology case studies are explored as means of capturing & retaining and anticipating & operating upon our everyday activities in ‘industrial’ scale systems. Particular attention is paid to the quasi-autonomous agency of these systems, that appear to operate at a scale and speed that exceeds a human capacity of oversight. In the third section the mnemonic and prognostic capabilities of networked infrastructures are brought into focus to be examined, through the work of the philosopher Bernard Stiegler (1998, 2009, 2010b, 2010a), as ‘mnemotechnologies’, technologies and technical supports that both support and reterritorialise what we collectively understand about our everyday lives. The conclusion of this article addresses the ways in which the informatics of an ‘industrialisation of memory’ that operates at a scale and speed that bleeds into apparatuses of anticipatory intervention both challenges and transforms the ways in which we negotiate what are private and public activities and spaces.

2013 Design Fictions – postscapes awards

Postscapes have an annual ‘Internet of Things‘ awards, with projects nominated under various categories for which the viewing public (with net access) are invited to vote. This is the third year of the awards and the second in which I have been aware of a ‘design fiction‘ category.

Postscapes identify/define design fiction in the following way:

Grounded as much in imagination as reality, design fiction is about bending the rules. It’s about asking “What if?”, and using the remains to probe the edges of our changing world.

The results may only be props or prototypes — but the best ones, as recognized by the Design Fiction award, end up helping us navigate our near futures and the stories they share.

(I’ve discussed how we might go about defining this sort of thing elsewhere on this blog and collected examples of similar kinds of fictions.)

Last year (in the awards for 2012), the ‘design fiction’ category was ‘won’ by the slightly creepy and maybe a little bit flawed ‘ear hacking’:

Ear Hacking from David Chatting on Vimeo.

In which we are asked to believe that there is a direct correlation between basic features of audio playback and our activity – in particular as runners. Anyway, it serves to demonstrate that humour works well in fostering and audience for design fiction. Notably, this ‘beat’ Google’s now infamous ‘project glass‘ video which, of course, was the forerunner for ‘glass‘.

In the running for the 2013 design fiction awards are a few interesting projects, you can see the whole list on the posts capes website but here are a couple that I think are in some way provocative…

Anne Galloway’s Design Culture Lab investigations of the Merino wool industry (see ‘counting sheep‘), with the lovely ‘bone knitter‘ that produces custom knitted casts for knitting back together broken limbs, and the rather unsettling ‘PermaLamb‘, vision of custom GM lamb production. Check out the ‘counting sheep‘ website for more, its worth exploring.

BoneKnitter during the knitting process.

James Bridle’s ‘surveillance spaulder’, a pithy and playful imagining of a device that viscerally reminds the wearer of their being surveilled:

Spike Jonze’s soon-to-be released film ‘Her’in the tradition of various imaginings of AI (e.g. Brian Aldiss):

[NB. posting them here doesn’t necessarily mean approval…]