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Erland Mårald and Erik Westholm

This article explores the changing construction of the future in Swedish forestry since 1850. The framework is based on three concepts: (1) knowability, addressing changing views of knowledge; (2) governability, addressing changing views of the ability to steer the future; and (3) temporality, referring to varying ways of relating to time. The results reveal that until the 1980s, trust in science-based forestry triggered other knowledge-based activities, such as education, surveys, and field trials. The future was seen as predictable and forecasts were expected to support increased forest production. In the 1970s, the environmental debate about the forest incorporated a pluralistic futures agenda. High-production forestry using intensive management methods was questioned. Futures studies shifted focus from predictions to scenarios, highlighting a less predictable future open to human agency. Paradoxically, with increased knowledge of forest ecology and forest markets with improved modeling techniques, the future horizon shifted to one of risks and uncertainties.

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Spirit of the Future

Movement, Kinetic Distribution, and Personhood among Siberian Eveny

Olga Ulturgasheva

This article discusses the concept of djuluchen (a spirit that travels ahead) among Siberian Eveny, which can illuminate the human potential to foreshadow one’s own future. Looking closely at case studies of Eveny adolescents reveals that the act of planning, narrating, or envisioning a future event, heavily charged and empowered by djuluchen, moves the event to its fulfillment. Drawing from the Deleuzian notion of ‘becoming’, the article shows the connection between prediction and fulfillment involved in the Eveny conceptualization of personhood and destiny. The discussion of ‘kinetic distribution’ and illocutionary acts uncovers the principle of detachability and the partibility of personhood in nomadic ontology.

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Living an Uncertain Future

Temporality, Uncertainty, and Well-Being among Iraqi Refugees in Egypt

Nadia El-Shaarawi

While displacement has always involved the refiguring of space, scholars of forced migration have recently begun to consider how temporality might be crucial to an understanding of displacement. In this article, I consider the interplay of temporal and spatial uncertainty in the experience of exile for Iraqi refugees in metropolitan Cairo. By examining how Iraqis understand displacement as uncertain and how this uncertainty is a cause of significant distress, I show that an attunement to temporality can help us to understand refugees' experiences of displacement. Iraqi refugees spoke of exile in Cairo as 'living in transit'—a condition in which disjuncture between their expectations about exile and its realities contributed to an altered experience of time in which the future became particularly uncertain and life was experienced as unstable. One solution sought by refugees is resettlement, a process that often renders the future even more uncertain, at least in the short term.

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Bridges to the future

Hungary’s gradual transformation

Béla Greskovits

Sometimes it is suggested that communism collapsed not least because its leaders ran out of any vision of a promising future for Eastern Europeans. My own experience of 1989 partly challenges this assumption. By that time, aware of the imperative of Hungary’s European integration, communists tried to demonstrate their will and skill to lead the country to the new path by proposing a grand project that could elicit the support of Western and domestic elites and capture the imaginations of ordinary people.

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Re-membering the Future

Doris Lessing's 'Experiment in Autobiography'

Aaron S. Rosenfeld

Doris Lessing's The Memoirs of a Survivor (1974) straddles various genres typically shunted off into the category 'science fiction' or 'speculative fiction'. Partly a dystopia, partly an apocalyptic text, and partly, in her own words, 'an attempt at autobiography,' the novel is difficult to classify. Indeed, the novel sparked disappointment and confusion upon its initial publication in 1974, with critics taking Lessing to task for exchanging the realist rigor of her earlier works for vague mysticism, and for producing a confusing work that alienated the reader. In fact, to call it a novel at all is something of a contradiction. Speculative fictions do not address the new; they address the future - the 'proleptic analepse of future history,' in the words of Bernard Duyfhuizen. And yet in the twentieth century we have embraced a number of future histories - from Zamiatin's We (1924) to Orwell's 1984 (1948) to Burgess's A Clockwork Orange (1963) to the experimental postmodern fictions of J. G. Ballard - as landmark novels. At the simplest level, these texts offer a critique of how we live and who we are now. Though they may not exactly be novels in the technical generic sense, we recognize that they speak in and to the present, if not of it.

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Crafting Future Selves

Time-Tricking and the Limits of Temporal Play in Children’s Online Film-Making

Espen Helgesen

Children in Norway increasingly spend time online, where they play games, create and share videos and hang out with friends. Drawing on fieldwork among immigrant families in Norway, this article investigates the use of avatars to facilitate temporal play in children’s online film-making. By creating animated films starring their own and their friends’ avatars, children playfully engage with a wide range of imagined future selves. Avatars constitute on-screen extensions of selves, allowing inhabitants of online environments to explore and experiment with otherwise inaccessible viewpoints and perspectives. Addressing the limits of time-tricking in children’s temporal play, the article shows how offline conventions shape what avatars can do.

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Figurations of the Future

On the Form and Temporality of Protests among Left Radical Activists in Europe

Stine Krøijer

During the past 10 years, protests timed to coincide with international summits have become a recurrent phenomenon in Europe. The present article describes the protests of left radical activists during NATO's sixtieth anniversary summit in Strasbourg in 2009, paying attention to the particular relationship between form, body, and time. The article establishes a dialogue between the performative theory of Victor Turner, Viveiros de Castro's theorization of Amerindian perspectivism, and newer theories of time and the body. It is argued that during confrontations between activists and the police, a moment of bodily synchronicity emerges among activists. A skillful performance makes a temporal bodily perspective appear that overcomes the antinomies between immanence and transcendence, between the present and the future, that characterize much thought on social change.

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The Future of Rickshaws

Concluding Thoughts and Wider Issues

Peter Cox

The contributions to this special section, together with the Introduction, serve a valuable role in bringing to attention a frequently overlooked mobility practice. Particularly welcome is the presence of scholarship from local perspectives within the Western academic context. Between them, these papers begin to put fl esh on what is all too easily framed from European perspectives as an exotic practice of the “other.” Yet it is this very possibility of “strangeness” that should alert us to a number of important issues for further consideration. My own perspective here is as an interdisciplinary scholar, working day to day as a sociologist and a researcher into cycling practices, both historical and contemporary. Th e considerations range between the conceptual and practical, the historical past and the imagined future.

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Keeping the Future at Bay

Waria, Anticipation and Existential Endings in Bali, Indonesia

Sylvia Tidey

Coming face to face with the inevitable finitude of our existence has a way of clarifying what really matters to us. Such occasions of existential breakdown demand that we actively appropriate our lives and purposely decide how to project ourselves towards the future while drawing on the possibilities available to us. But what if these possibilities offer little for constructing a future we deem desirable? In this article I take a Heideggerian approach to anticipation in order to analyse waria’s (Indonesian transgender women) often-stated intention to ‘become normal again’, while seemingly never doing so. Here, then, anticipation is less about an orientation towards specific objectives and more about a response to existential demands, while keeping at bay undesirable futures. Waria’s anticipation of a future normal does not suggest an appeal of the normal but, rather, indicates a paucity of available possibilities to draw on in order to orient oneself differently.

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'The Politics of the Future'

An Unknown Text by Émile Durkheim

Jennifer Mergy

In April 1917, the daily newspaper La Dépêche de Toulouse – The Toulouse Wire – published Durkheim’s response to a survey entitled ‘The Politics of the Future’. Along with a number of politicians, economists and intellectuals, the sociologist was asked to give his opinion on party politics after the end of the war, and specifically on the country’s economic reconstruction.