Sustainability Science

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 963–971 | Cite as

Future objects: tracing the socio-material politics of anticipation

  • Alejandro EsguerraEmail author
Special Feature: Original Article The politics of making and un-making (sustainable) futures
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Special Feature: The politics of making and un-making (sustainable) futures


This paper advances current scholarship on future practices and anticipation arguing that the ways in which we engage in future making not only rely on distinct practices but also on objects, future objects. Future objects are defined as an array of socio-material entities that underpin future practices. In drawing on science studies, this paper develops a typology of future objects that takes as its ordering mechanism the political work future objects perform. Type one future objects are solid and ready to use. Their political work is to secure the present by allowing for political agreements that concern the future. Based on a linear model of expertise, this type of future object provides answers in speaking truth to power. Bodies and instruments, databases and power points are involved when producing, as well as performing, type one objects. Type two future objects are about the experimental infrastructure for creating futures. Foresight conferences organize space with the aim in mind to come up with novel visions of sustainable futures in the Anthropocene. Finally, type three future objects are more fluid and still in the making. They are collectively worked on in iterative cycles. Examples range from prototypes of climate engineering to negotiation texts of global environmental agreements. They operate as a centering device and materialize in artifacts integrating participants contributions. In outlining the difference between the three object types, the paper elaborates on the environmental politics of anticipation especially with regard to science policy interaction.


Objects Anticipation Future Anthropocene Materiality 



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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bielefeld UniversityBielefeldGermany

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