Advertisement

Future-Making in Times of Urban Sustainability: Maintenance and Endurance as Progressive Alternatives in the Postindustrial Era

Chapter
  • 70 Downloads

Abstract

Different times evoke different relations to the future. Recent additions look discouragingly conservative: sustaining, maintaining, and enduring describe practices that look like they are aimed at preventing change rather than provoking it. However, once we change our own expectations, we can see them as radically progressive alternatives for future-making in the postindustrial era. But what kind of futures do these practices help us and our informants to envision? And are these futures necessarily “otherwise”—and otherwise with regard to what: the state of the present or dystopian expectations of worse futures? Based on the material from a prototype postindustrial German city, I explore my informants’ seemingly disappointing attempts at maintaining urban sustainability and expand our analytic toolkit by fully contextualizing their own searches for lost futures.

Keywords

Postindustrial city Future Endurance Maintenance Urban sustainability Germany Expectations Urban regeneration Presentism Methodology 

References

  1. Abram, S., and G. Weszkalnys. 2013. Elusive Promises: Planning in the Contemporary World. New York and Oxford: Berghahn.Google Scholar
  2. Adam, B. 1990. Time and Social Theory. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  3. Anand, N., A. Gupta, and H. Appel. 2018. The Promise of Infrastructure. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Appel, H., N. Anand, and A. Gupta. 2015. The Infrastructure Toolbox. Theorizing the Contemporary, Cultural Anthropology website, September 24. https://culanth.org/fieldsights/725-the-infrastructure-toolbox.
  5. Appadurai, A. 2013. The Future as Cultural Fact: Essays on the Global Condition. New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  6. Battaglia, D. (ed.). 2005. E.T. Culture: Anthropology in Outerspaces. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bear, L. 2017. Anthropological Futures: For a Critical Political Economy of Capitalist Time (ASA Raymond Firth Lecture 2016). Social Anthropology 25 (2): 142–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brightman, M., and J. Lewis (eds.). 2017. The Anthropology of Sustainability: Beyond Development and Progress. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  9. Bryant, R., and D. Knight. 2019. The Anthropology of the Future. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Boyer, D. 2001. On the Sedimentation and Accreditation of Social Knowledges of Difference: Mass Media, Journalism, and the Reproduction of East/West Alterities in Unified Germany. Cultural Anthropology 15 (4): 459–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Boyer, D. 2006. Ostalgie and the Politics of the Future in Eastern Germany. Public Culture 18 (2): 361–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cerwonka, A., and L. Malkki. 2007. Improvising Theory: Process and Temporality in Ethnographic Fieldwork. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dzenovska, D., and N. De Genova. 2018. Introduction: Desire for the political in the Aftermath of the Cold War. Focaal: Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology 80: 1–15.Google Scholar
  14. Castán Broto, V., and H. Bulkeley. 2013. Maintaining Climate Change Experiments: Urban Political Ecology and the Everyday Reconfiguration of Urban Infrastructure. International Journal of Regional Research 37 (6): 1934–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ferguson, J. 1999. Expectations of Modernity: Myths and Meanings of Urban Life on the Zambian Copperbelt. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Graeber, D. 2012. Afterword. In Economies of Recycling: The Global Transformation of Materials, Values and Social Relations, ed. C. Alexander and J. Reno, 277–90. London and New York: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  17. Graham, S., and N. Thrift. 2007. Out of Order: Understanding Repair and Maintenance. Theory, Culture and Society 24 (3): 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Guyer, J. 2007. Prophecy and the Near Future: Thoughts on Macroeconomic, Evangelical, and Punctuated Time. American Ethnologist 34 (3): 409–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hackney, F., H. Maghaun, and S. Desmarais. 2016. The Power of Quiet: Re-making Affective Amateur and Professional Textile Agencies. Journal of Textile Design Research and Practice 4 (1): 33–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hirsch, E., and C. Stewart. 2005. Introduction: Ethnographies of Historicity. History and Anthropology 16 (3): 261–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Howe, C., J. Lockrem, H. Appel, E. Hackett, D. Boyer, R. Hall, M. Schneider-Mayerson, A. Pope, A. Gupta, E. Rodwell, A. Ballestero, T. Durbin, F. el-Dahdah, E. Long, and C. Mody. 2016. Paradoxical Infrastructures: Ruins, Retrofit, and Risk. Science, Technology and Human Values 41 (3): 547–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jackson, S. 2015. Repair. Theorizing the Contemporary. Cultural Anthropology website, September 24. https://culanth.org/fieldsights/720-repair.
  23. Jansen, S. 2013. Hope For/Against the State: Gridding in a Besieged Sarajevo Suburb. Ethnos 79 (2): 1–23.Google Scholar
  24. Kazubowski-Houston, M. 2017. Quiet Theater: The Radical Politics of Silence. Cultural Studies—Critical Methodologies 18 (6): 410–22.Google Scholar
  25. Larkin, B. 2013. The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure. Annual Review of Anthropology 42: 327–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mahmood, S. 2005. Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Mains, D. 2012. Blackouts and Progress: Privatization, Infrastructure, and a Developmentalist State in Jimma, Ethiopia. Cultural Anthropology 27 (1): 3–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Munn, N. 1992. The Cultural Anthropology of Time: A Critical Essay. Annual Review of Anthropology 21: 93–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Miyazaki, H. 2004. The Method of Hope: Anthropology, Philosophy, and Fijian Knowledge. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Miyazaki, H. 2006. Economy of Dreams: Hopes in Global Capitalism and Its Critiques. Cultural Anthropology 21 (2): 147–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pels, P. 2015. Modern Times: Seven Steps Toward an Anthropology of the Future. Current Anthropology 56 (6): 779–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Povinelli, E. 2011. Economies of Abandonment: Social Belonging and Endurance in Late Liberalism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rabinow, P. 2003. Anthropos Today. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Ringel, F. 2013. Epistemic Collaborations in Contexts of Change: On Conceptual Fieldwork and the Timing of Anthropological Knowledge. Laboratorium 5: 36–55.Google Scholar
  35. Ringel, F. 2014. Post-industrial Times and the Unexpected: Endurance and Sustainability in Germany’s Fastest Shrinking City. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) 20 (S1): 52–70.Google Scholar
  36. Ringel, F. 2016a. Beyond Temporality: Notes on Time from a Shrinking Fieldsite. Anthropological Theory 16 (4): 390–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ringel, F. 2016b. Can Time Be Tricked? On the Future of Temporal Agency. Cambridge Journal of Anthropology 34 (1): 22–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ringel, F. 2018a. Back to the Postindustrial Future: An Ethnography of Germany’s Fastest Shrinking City. New York and Oxford: Berghahn.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Ringel, F. 2018b. On the Politics of Expectations in the Aftermaths of the ‘Refugee Crisis’: Ethnographic Prospects from a Postindustrial German City. Anthropology Today 34 (3): 26–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Ringel, F. 2018c. The Production of Indeterminacy: On the Unforeseeable Future of Postindustrial Excess. In Indeterminacy: Essays on Waste, Value and the Imagination, ed. C. Alexander and A. Sanchez, 68–88. New York, Oxford: Berghahn.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ringel, F., and R. Moroşanu (eds.). 2016. Time-Tricking: Reconsidering Temporal Agency in Troubled Times. Special Issue of The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology 34 (1): 17–129.Google Scholar
  42. Salazar, J.F., S. Pink, A. Irving, and J. Sjöberg (eds.). 2017. Anthropologies and Futures: Researching Emerging and Uncertain Worlds. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  43. Ssorin-Chaikov, N. (ed.). 201. Ethnographic Conceptualism. Special Issue of Laboratorium, 5 (2): 5–165.Google Scholar
  44. Strathern, M. 2005. Kinship, Law and the Unexpected: Relatives Are Always a Surprise. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Thrift, N. 2008. Non-representational Theory: Space/Politics/Affect. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Valentine, D. 2012. Exit Strategy: Profit, Cosmology, and the Future of Humans in Space. Anthropological Quarterly 85 (4): 1045–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Von Schnitzler, A. 2013. Traveling Technologies: Infrastructures, Ethical Regimes, and the Materiality of Politics in South Africa. Cultural Anthropology 28 (4): 670–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Weszkalnys, G. 2010. Berlin Alexanderplatz: Transforming Place in a Unified Germany. New York and Oxford: Berghahn.Google Scholar
  49. Yarrow, T. 2017. Remains of the Future: Rethinking the Space and Time of Ruination Through the Volta Resettlement Project, Ghana. Cultural Anthropology 32 (4): 566–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2021

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Durham UniversityDurhamUK

Personalised recommendations