Anthropological Association of Ireland: Predictive Texts: Imagining the Future

Event Date: September 21, 2017 to September 23, 2017

Anthropological Association of Ireland: Predictive Texts: Imagining the Future

21-23 September 2017, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland

The arts and the liberal arts have always had an eye on the future. From classical works of dystopic fiction to surrealist artistic visions, imaginings and simulations of the world’s future has always been central to humanities hopes and fears. Works of fiction can be considered a way of dealing with an uncertain future, offering opportunities for the creator and observer to explore the unknown.

In the creative and liberal traditions, time, intellectual endeavour and resources have been exhaustively spent dealing with the future. Be that in countless anthropological reflections on cultural transformations, or what the future holds for enclaves of cultural traditions in the Anthropocene, or to revolutionary world simulation in digital mediums, the future has always been a central motivational cog in a spinning wheel.

This conference will give presenters the opportunity to look back on classical fiction and non-fiction predictive texts and reflect on the accuracy of prediction. This classical beginning raises the question – in imagining the future – do we set a course for that future? As liberal and creative arts are often responsible for imagining the future, then are we responsible for that future? As anthropologists, if we use our skills as ethnographers to understand the needs of the future for the development of goods and services, through long-term engagement with participants – where does our responsibility begin and end? If those in the liberal arts and creative arts have their finger on the pulse of cultural trends what is our part in that future? [more]