7 episodes

Talking Uncertainty is Emergent Futures CoLab’s online talk series. We feature scholars, artists and practitioners who are collaborating on projects that speculate emergent futures in times of radical uncertainty. This series highlights how individuals and communities are staging, designing, performing and transforming futures.

In light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we also seek to understand how - and why - scholars, artists and practitioners are navigating their projects during a time of collective grief and unprecedented uncertainty.

Visit us at urgentemergent.org

Talking Uncertainty Emergent Futures CoLab

    • Social Sciences

Talking Uncertainty is Emergent Futures CoLab’s online talk series. We feature scholars, artists and practitioners who are collaborating on projects that speculate emergent futures in times of radical uncertainty. This series highlights how individuals and communities are staging, designing, performing and transforming futures.

In light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we also seek to understand how - and why - scholars, artists and practitioners are navigating their projects during a time of collective grief and unprecedented uncertainty.

Visit us at urgentemergent.org

    TU#01 Insight - Community benefit and slow activism

    TU#01 Insight - Community benefit and slow activism

    How can we go beyond self-reflexivity in our research and deal with our inability to directly impact the living conditions of our interlocutors? Our interlocutors often request our assistance with daily tasks and have their own agendas regarding collaboration. But in many cases, they may not want us to intervene in any public way. Therefore, we must not enforce our agendas of “social justice” and “activism,” assuming that the project could transform their situation. Kazubowski-Houston explains how the layer of fiction in her work allows Romani women to share issues of concern in a carefully edited, curated, and anonymized way due to fear of community reprisal. Instead of always approaching activism as a social movement or a protest, we should consider the potential of such improvisatory practices and the subtle, slow ways in which activism plays out in everyday life.

    Read insights from the talk here: https://www.urgentemergent.org/talking-uncertainty/kazubowski-houston.

    All our talks are recorded and published on our website. Kindly register to become an EFC member at urgentemergent.org if you would like to attend and participate in the live talks.


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    • 4 min
    TU#01 Insight - Imagination, Covid-19 and elder care

    TU#01 Insight - Imagination, Covid-19 and elder care

    The absence of elders’ caregivers appears as an elephant in the room throughout Kazubowski-Houston’s dramatic storytelling. How can we put things in perspective in terms of working with imaginative ethnography and elderly care in the context of the COVID-19 reality? Elders in many countries have been socially isolated and alone for a long time, so the “COVID reality” existed for many of us even before the pandemic started. In the context of the recent COVID outbreaks in long-term care facilities, we have been speculating the death of so many elders in Canada and around the world, and somehow this is considered normal. As an improvisatory ethnographic tool, imagination has often been romanticized in anthropology. Although it can be powerful, it can be equally disempowering and damaging to our interlocutors. The outcome of imaginative ethnography may not necessarily be what we had hoped for or anticipated, especially during these challenging times.

    Read insights from the talk here: https://www.urgentemergent.org/talking-uncertainty/kazubowski-houston.

    All our talks are recorded and published on our website. Kindly register to become an EFC member at urgentemergent.org if you would like to attend and participate in the live talks.


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    • 7 min
    TU#01 Insight - Performance, ethnographic intimacy and political context

    TU#01 Insight - Performance, ethnographic intimacy and political context

    A collaborative, improvisational ethnography focussing on the intimate might give the impression that our interlocutors’ world is limited, whereas they are connected to the broader society, discourses and politics. How can we juggle such an element of scale? Performance can show us how people relate to each other in terms of power. By using different modalities of ethnography, we get a parallax effect that can help generate different “truths”. Despite being a politics of intimacy, we need to always situate such practices within the broader political moment. Kazubowski-Houston emphasizes in her talk that the intimate improvisational moments between her and her interlocutor took place within the context of mass migrations and a broader affective economy of long-term-care in Poland.

    Read insights from the talk here: https://www.urgentemergent.org/talking-uncertainty/kazubowski-houston.

    All our talks are recorded and published on our website. Kindly register to become an EFC member at urgentemergent.org if you would like to attend and participate in the live talks.


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    • 11 min
    TU#01 Insight - Engaging with (im)possibility and (un)certainty through fiction

    TU#01 Insight - Engaging with (im)possibility and (un)certainty through fiction

    In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, how can methods that involve fiction or social fiction help communities to channel uncertainty and reimagine their futures? COVID-19 has starkly highlighted structural inequities and realities that have always existed. The reality we knew has disappeared overnight, and other realities have appeared. Therefore, in many ways, COVID-19 is about absence, and neoliberal academia has tried to fill this gap, through technology and other means - to try to resemble “the normal” - when in fact this is not possible. We need to construct knowledge in a kind of “twilight zone,” which lies somewhere in between the existing and the emergent, the possible and the impossible, the past and the future, and fiction and reality. Fiction helps us to tap into these spaces of absence, uncertainty, emergence by improvising these interiorities to the fore.

    Read insights from the talk here: https://www.urgentemergent.org/talking-uncertainty/kazubowski-houston.

    All our talks are recorded and published on our website. Kindly register to become an EFC member at urgentemergent.org if you would like to attend and participate in the live talks.


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    • 10 min
    TU#01 Insight - Wolf anthropology v/s Context-specific methodology

    TU#01 Insight - Wolf anthropology v/s Context-specific methodology

    Is a shift in reflexivity possible in the short-term ethnographic work that has been recently gaining popularity in anthropology? Ethnography is not a toolkit, and there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to collaborative research methodology. Performance ethnography can just as easily constitute a “wolf anthropology,” where the scholar forces collaboration and pushes their own agenda. In fact, “performance” has become a trope for community engagement, where the neoliberal academy has usurped the language of social justice, only to recreate colonial power relations and extractivist research processes. We need to resist the urge towards imposing our own - potentially neocolonial - flavours of “equity” and “equality” with our interlocutors. Ethnography should always be context-specific and driven by the needs of the community. In fact, our interlocutors might sometimes be more interested in “a politics of invisibility” instead of recognition.

    Read insights from the talk here: https://www.urgentemergent.org/talking-uncertainty/kazubowski-houston.

    All our talks are recorded and published on our website. Kindly register to become an EFC member at urgentemergent.org if you would like to attend and participate in the live talks.


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    • 11 min
    TU#01 Insight - Awkwardness, collaboration and negotiating agendas

    TU#01 Insight - Awkwardness, collaboration and negotiating agendas

    What is the broader epistemological significance of feeling awkward for the anthropological project? Ethnography is always improvisational, and mistakes are bound to happen, but we must engage with - and write critically - about them. Performance ethnography is not collaborative by default, and collaboration between researchers and interlocutors “often involves negotiating different interests and conflicting agendas”. Anthropologists tend to monopolize reflexivity in their writing, which does little to shift problematic power dynamics. We need to move beyond our own positionality in our reflexive writing. Trailing awkwardness through ethnography and pursuing an “awkward anthropology” can shift the lens of reflexivity and unsettle power dynamics between researcher and interlocutor, thus leading to a different kind of collaborative anthropology.

    Read insights from the talk here: https://www.urgentemergent.org/talking-uncertainty/kazubowski-houston.

    All our talks are recorded and published on our website. Kindly register to become an EFC member at urgentemergent.org if you would like to attend and participate in the live talks.


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    • 3 min

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