ONLINE Demarginalizing Futures: rethinking embodiment, community and culture

​Fr 19/02/2021–​Sa 20/02/2021


Interkulturelles Philosophieren: Marxismus im Gespräch – Interkulturelle Perspektiven und Entwicklungen


Techno-utopias, dystopias, climatic eschatologies, and various other representations of possible futures entangle themselves together in the different imaginaries surrounding us generated by politics, media, or philosophy. Such narratives about the future are more than often centred on European concepts of technological progress and ignore representations of future stemming from marginalized political or societal actors. We thereforewish to promote an increase of philosophical and multidisciplinary attention to the above marginalized narratives of the future. To this scope, weinvite proposals from a broad horizon of backgrounds that touch on the main topic of ways to represent future societies in a demarginalizing way. We will refer to all such mechanisms as ‘futurisms’ thus aligning ourselves with postcolonial trends in aesthetics that reframe the ‘eurocentric’ term futurism in a demarginalizing, decolonial way.

The term ‘futurism’ is usually used in post-colonial contexts to refer to certain sets of aesthetic practices that aim to re-appropriate the discourses of science fiction and technology from the point of view of those who were historically excluded from the narratives of civilizational progress (see Dillon 2012; Newman Fricke 2019). Examples of such movements are ‘afro-futurism’, ‘chicanx-futurism’, ‘Asia-futurism’ (including the so-called ‘sino-futurism’), ‘gulf-futurism’, etc.

Hence, although the term ‘futurism’ in all its variants has been employed mostly in the field of cultural studies, we think that philosophy should also take this opportunity to reflect on the way in which the narratives of future and progress can be re-thought from other perspectives. Indeed, our representations of the future are usually accompanied by certain notions of technological growth, political participation and cultural internationalization. Our imaginaries are populated with AI-human interactions, cybernetic gadgets, experiences of augmented reality, but also environmental catastrophes, mass-surveillance anxieties and new forms of migration and ethnical persecution, among others. We find ourselves therefore in front of an overwhelming representation of the future that renders the challenge of critically evaluating and re-appropriating these imaginaries to be pressing.

Subaltern cultures have been systematically excluded from the ‘future’, portrayed as technologically and socially underdeveloped. Something similar happens with their philosophies, that usually appear as taxonomical oddities classified as ‘wisdom’, ‘sageness’ , ‘thought’, ‘popular culture’ or ‘religion’and often play a marginal role in the mainstream representation of future societies. This seems paradoxical since it isprecisely places like the global south, where we findpolitical initiatives that try to marry ecological sustainability with political and economic solidarity in creative and innovative ways.For this reason, we would like to address these problems from the expanded perspective of these marginalized futurisms, but also engage in a critical assessment of futurism and all representations of future -does it do justice to subaltern voices or does it promote a dichotomy-laden politics of identity?