In grammar, the subjunctive mood implies contingency, desire, hope, doubt: an unknown but imaginable future. This proposed roundtable for the American Studies Association Annual Meeting (10/20-23/11) explores the subjunctive in daily life, asking what it means to live ‘as if’ and what an ethnographic analysis of the ‘as if’ might look like. How do imaginations of the future affect the formation of subjectivities and political and social possibilities in the here and now, and how do these multi-temporal spaces lend themselves to rethinking how social transformations can occur? An orientation toward the future has been central in the making of ‘America,’ defining ‘American’ subjectivities through aspiration and potential, through what could be, rather than what was. Likewise, this focus on potential rather than limitation echoes contemporary neoliberal ideologies, intersecting and amplifying their common-sense status. Given the centrality of these modes of thought how can we gain the critical distance necessary to take these forms seriously while avoiding seeing aspirations, hopes, and dreams merely as forms of false consciousness or motivational explanations for broader external processes and forms like the market or globalization?
Please email a brief bio of your research and 1 page cv to Stephanie Sadre-Orafai email@example.com by 1/26/11 at 9am for consideration.
Department of Anthropology
University of Cincinnati
448 Braunstein Hall
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0380 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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