Numéro 22

Uncertain Future(s)

Perceptions on Time between the Immediate and the Imagined

Page 4
Valerie Hänsch, Lena Kroeker, Silke Oldenburg

In the last decade, the notion of uncertainty has gained prominence in anthropological debates. So has the debate on future. Yet, the conceptualisation of uncertainty has barely been linked to the future(s) and its temporal relations. This lack of linkage seems astonishing in so far as uncertainty relates closely to the unpredictability of the future. Uncertain situations engender ambivalent experiences and affects towards an unknown future embracing hope, desire and opportunity as well as fear, despair and suffering. Theoretically, the future is always unknown and unpredictable, but usually people are able to anticipate the future as it is more conversant than in uncertain situations, which challenge future outlooks and knowledge practices. Anthropologists have dedicated atten- tion to uncertain situations ranging from everyday uncertainties under precarious conditions to crises and critical events of individual or collective existential uncertainty.

Valerie Hänsch, anthropologist and filmmaker, explores the relationship between large infrastructures and crises in the Sudan. She examines displacements, uncertainty, local knowledge and resistance. Her work includes several collaborative audio-visual projects. She conducted extensive ethnographic research in urban and rural areas on islamic practices and sensual experiences, creativity, and about the life along the Nile. She holds a PhD from the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS) and is currently replacing the Juniorprofessor for Culture and Technology in Africa at Bayreuth University.
Lehrstuhl Ethnologie Universität Bayreuth D-95440 Bayreuth

Lena Kroeker is currently a post-doc fellow at the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies, an interdisciplinary institution which focused in its first phase (2012-2016) on concepts of future in Africa. She obtained her PhD in social anthropology from the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies in 2012 with a thesis on decision making of HIV-positive pregnant women in Lesotho (LIT-Verlag, 2015). Her research interests include the anthropology of uncertainty, anthropology of time/future, medical anthropology, social protection and the African middle class.
Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies Universität Bayreuth
Hugo-Rüdel-Str. 10
D-95440 Bayreuth

Silke Oldenburg is senior lecturer at the Seminar of Social Anthropology, University of Basel, Switzerland. She studied social anthropology and Eastern European history in Tübingen, Berlin, Mérida (Venezuela) and completed her PhD at the University of Bayreuth, Germany in 2013. Her research interests include urban anthropology, the anthropology of youth, gender and generation, the anthropology of media and journalism, and political anthropology, with a particular focus on aspects of everyday life within contexts of protracted violent conflict. Currently, her post-doc research focuses on processes of «Making the City» (SNF 165625) in Cartagena (Colombia) and Goma (DR Congo).
University of Basel
Seminar of Social Anthropology Münsterplatz 19
CH-4051 Basel