The Anthropology of the Future
Rebecca Bryant, Daniel M. Knight
Study of the future is an important new field in anthropology. Building on a philosophical tradition running from Aristotle through Heidegger to Schatzki, this book presents the concept of ‘orientations’ as a way to study everyday life. It analyses six main orientations – anticipation, expectation, speculation, potentiality, hope, and destiny – which represent different ways in which the future may affect our present. While orientations entail planning towards and imagining the future, they also often involve the collapse or exhaustion of those efforts: moments where hope may turn to apathy, frustrated planning to disillusion, and imagination to fatigue. By examining these orientations at different points, the authors argue for an anthropology that takes fuller account of the teleologies of action.
'The poetics and politics of everyday temporality may never be more engaging than in Bryant and Knight's call to orient the social present in awareness of the not-yet-here, the not-yet-now. Addressing the future as an object of anthropological inquiry, the authors chorus the 'time-reckoning of capitalism ... at the heart of the modern', seeking traces of both spirit and heart across the global ethnoscape. The overall effect is of a future deexoticized. To my mind, this is a work for the ages, deftly informed by theory and felt through people compelled to mobilize prospects for rupture and continuity, as a matter of very real consequence.' Debbora Battaglia, Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts '... this study is fairly comprehensive in reviewing the literature on time and temporality.' M. Ebert, Choice
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