184. Experiments in Radical Pragmatism

Orit Halpern, Technische Universität Dresden; Nadia Christidi, MIT; Sudipto Basu, Concordia University; Özgün Eylül İşcen, Institute for Cultural Inquiry;

Environmental crisis, breakdown, and collapse are everywhere, but are experienced and engaged with in vastly different, unequal ways. Science and technology have played a significant role in both producing and responding to ongoing disasters (Haraway; Masco; Fortun and Frickel). Catastrophic master narratives dominate how the future and technoscience are conceived and acted upon, from ecomodernist techno-salvationism and neo-Malthusianism to socio-political critiques that see technology only as a lapsarian force. Recognizing the need to move beyond despair and critique (Latour; Haraway) towards concrete proposals for worldmaking, we propose radical pragmatism as a framework for steering contemporary eco-socio-technological conditions towards better, just futures in the spirit of this conference. Informed by pragmatism's entangled history with US Reconstruction-era democratic thought (James, Dewey, DuBois), pan-Africanist worldmaking (Nkrumah, Padmore, Azikiwe) and anti-caste struggles in India (Ambedkar), we see radical pragmatism as: situated rather than universalizing; historical but not stuck in overdetermined, paralyzing critique; and focused on problem-solving through ethical, iterative experimentation. Radical pragmatism enables developing empirically and experientially-based practices as the starting point for imagining reparative and redistributive futures. It offers tools for reconfiguring our relationship to nature, technology, and science, with practical implications for social and environmental struggles and policy. For this panel, we seek researchers who use a range of methods - historical, ethnographic, speculative, and policy-oriented - to explore world-making projects that mobilize science, technology, and design to pursue socially and environmentally just goals. Attention to more-than-human, more-than-Western projects is highly encouraged. Please send a 500 word abstract and short bio.

Contact: ohalpern@gmail.com, nadiach@mit.edu, sudibasu@gmail.com, ozgun.iscen@ici-berlin.org

Keywords: Social Movements and STS, Method and Practice, Environmental/Multispecies Studies, catastrophe/crisis, technoscientific futures, real world experiments, democratic policymaking, radical politics, eco-social justice

Published: 04/07/2023