Panel Two: Ruined pasts, ruined futures?

Our second panel considers the socio-political history and present of the location of our event. We will contemplate whether post-socialism is conducive of only negative results for environment, is it characterised by ruination and destruction, leaving behind memories and/or realities of mutilated military landscapes, or sites of hybridity devoid of heritage – or does it have something to offer to understand the future, to face the threats as the protesters of the 1980s faced the military might of the Soviet system? What kinds of environmentalisms have such pasts triggered, and what presents and futures might evolve from these?

The panel would include a trip to the surrounding city with its mixed ruins from various pasts, cautionary tales on completeness, and states of hybridity.

Keynote speaker

Precarious Politics of Placemaking: Why the Historicity of Environmental Future Imaginaries Matters 

In this presentation I will focus on the everyday placemaking practices people in an Austrian mountain community engage in as a response to the exploitative and destructive nature of global capitalism. By zooming in on grassroot projects aimed at food sovereignty, I will show the important social role environmental future imaginaries can take on as a means of creating a sense of belonging and solidarity in “forgotten”, rural places that are marked by unemployment, defunding and out-migration. However, I will suggest that anthropological analysis needs to inquire into the agency attached to such projects, laying bare the ambiguous nature of supposedly “green” and progressive placemaking practices. By looking into the everyday engagements with history fuelling local struggles for social and environmental viability in my Austrian fieldsite, I attempt to make visible the contours of a troubling politics of place. This politics of place, I will argue, does not just act against extractive capitalism. Based on historically ingrained notions of otherness, it has the side-effect of reproducing reactionary and exclusionary ideas of belonging to place.

Let’s build something together.