25th Oct 2017 5:30pm-7:00pm

Edward Street, 102


Dr Lisa Garforth (Newcastle University)

Unsettling Scientific Stories (Expertise, Narrative and Future Histories) is an AHRC-funded project exploring how people have envisioned their futures over the long technological twentieth-century. It foregrounds the importance of fiction as a method for analysing articulations between the social and the scientific, and as a means of accessing and understanding public attitudes and critical responses to emerging techno-scientific knowledges. Green Utopias: Environmental Hope Before and After Nature (Polity 2017) is my attempt to think through the imagination of alternative futures in relation to post-war environmentalism. It examines eco-utopian visions in global policy discourse, radical philosophy and science fiction, and considers major changes in the framing of environmental futures over the last 50 years, from the announcement of environmental crisis through debates about the end of nature to the recent emergence of the idea of the Anthropocene.

In this talk I’ll explore aspects of both these projects and unpack the ideas that link them in my work as a sociologist interested in utopia, speculation, environmental imaginaries and narrative fiction. I focus in particular on theories of the science fictional and on the power and cultural ubiquity of utopian anticipation, I argue for a sociology more informed by the history of futures and more nimble and dialogic in its speculative capacities: a sociology that can draw effectively on the fictional engagements of both writers and readers.

Lisa Garforth is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Newcastle University. She researches on environmental futures, utopian theory and gender and science, and she teaches modules on social theory and on utopia and the sociological imagination.

Image: ‘Dawn in the Anthropocene,’ Cugerbrant 2003. Licensed under Creative Commons and available from Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/ File:Dawn_in_the_Anthropocene.jpg