189. Radical Pragmatism in Catastrophic Times

This panel (#189) has been superseded by panel #184, submissions for #189 should be redirected to #184.

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

We live in catastrophic times, nowhere more visible than in the inequitably experienced climate crisis. Science and technology have played an outstanding role in both producing and responding to ongoing environmental disasters (Fortun and Frickel). Catastrophic master narratives dominate how the future and technoscience are conceived and acted upon, from ecomodernist techno-salvationism and necropolitical Malthusianism to socio-political critiques that see technology only as a lapsarian force. Recognizing the need to move beyond despair and critique (Latour) 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 (William James, DuBois, et al), pan-Africanist worldmaking (Kwame Nkrumah, George Padmore, et al) 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 has the potential to produce imaginative reparative and redistributive solutions grounded in empiricism and experience that address ecosocial crises and violences. It offers tools for reconfiguring our relationship to nature, technology, and science, with practical implications for social and environmental struggles and policy. We seek proposals that are (a.) histories of radical experimentation in science, technology and design, (b.) ethnographic studies of future-oriented techno-social practices/movements for making better, just worlds, and (c.) speculative projects for experimental, politically radical worldmaking through technology, design or policy. Please send a 500 word abstract.

Contact: ohalpern@gmail.com, egan@wesleyan.edu, 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