Doing Urban Futures

Alpermann, H., Chalmandrier, M., & Fürst, M. F.

Doing Urban Futures: Anticipation and the City
(Panel organized)


5th STS-CH conference
Swiss Association for the Studies of Science, Technology & Society
Lausanne, Switzerland

The future is usually performed as the continuum of past and present + x. With accelerated changes and crises, the factor x – the opacity and the contingency of the future – increasingly plays out in the present, namely in practices of anticipation, preparation, precaution and conservation. The city is often understood to play a crucial role in managing the fragility of the future, as it has become a progressively predominant arena in acting towards, and facing uncertainty and indeterminacy of global changes.

The panel aims to critically examine this disposition by focusing on the different forms of knowledge that articulate, confront, and maintain futures big and small, and discuss how they both emerge from, and shape, contemporary urban environments. In particular, the contributions disclose the locality and diversity of temporal agencies in practices relating to the built and unbuilt environment within the city, and emphasize the plurality of future doings within and beyond specifically “anticipatory” techniques such as urban planning, design, and metropolitan governance.

Making sense of, and acting on the not-yet then is understood to be an integral feature of urban life in a diverse array of empirical settings, in sometimes bifurcating and even contradictory ways, bound by distinct geographies, and interchanging with fragile materialities. By exploring these everyday practices of engagement between the present and what is yet to come, and their conditions of possibility, the panel seeks to critically reflect on the implications of “anticipation” and “change” as concepts in STS and urban studies research.