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A Generative Theory of Anticipation

Mood, Intuition and Imagination in Architectural Practice

Christopher Stephan

In this article, I argue that anticipation unfolds within a range of experiential modalities. Because moods and emotions, intuitions and imagination, among other forms of experience, can all appear as disclosing something about the future, anticipation is heterogeneous. Building on work in phenomenological anthropology and philosophy, I offer a generative phenomenology of the range of anticipatory experience, arguing that some forms of experience are relatively more implicit while others may prove more salient and offer more explicable forms of anticipation. As anticipation emerges in time, the more implicit experiential modes such as mood and intuition operate as antecedents to more explicit ones such as imagination. Turning to apply these ideas to ethnographic materials from my fieldwork among architectural design teams in San Francisco, I demonstrate how attentiveness to this gradient of anticipatory experience allows us to account for anticipatory experiences as they unfold through time.

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Introduction

Experiencing Anticipation. Anthropological Perspectives

Christopher Stephan and Devin Flaherty

Despite contemporary anthropology’s growing interest in ‘futures’, there has been an absence of sustained dialogue concerning the vital role of anticipation in everyday life. Seeking to bring much needed attention to the first-person perspective on futurity, in this introduction to the special issue we situate anticipation within the temporality of lived experience. Drawing on premises from anthropological studies of experience (particularly phenomenological approaches), we frame the experiential approach to anticipation by highlighting the parameters of its cross-cultural and intercontextual variability. We argue that anticipatory experience provides a crucial locus for ethnographic inquiry into the disparate and polysemous manifestations of futures in everyday life. We then seek to demonstrate how anticipation thus conceived may be productively integrated with numerous ongoing themes within contemporary anthropological scholarship. Finally, we introduce the individual contributions to the issue.