How can one grieve the future? Can grief be a companion that helps us remake our modernist identities? And how might we unfold futures that has explorative and transformative potentials?

This seminar takes its point of departure in current discussions regarding the need for reclaiming hope from progressive thought. During the seminar we will discuss how to reimagine hope in times chartered by uncertainties.

The presenter in this seminar is Lesley Head, Professor and Head of the School of Geography at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Her presentation draws on her book Hope and Grief in the Anthropocene. In the book she points out that the notion of optimism is elemental to our current modernist accounts of the climate problem and how it should be addressed. She argues that in mainstream science and policy, optimism seems a required emotional state for addressing the current environmental challenges. Furthermore, she describes climate change as closely entangled in processes of grieving, not only the loss of landscapes, species, and mobilities, but also a taken for granted and certain hopeful future. Whereas processes of grieving bring challenges of bearing negative emotions without becoming paralyzed, she argues that we should not depend on positive emotions to provide the basis of hope. More specifically she argues for decoupling hope from optimism, since optimism closes down possibilities rather than open them up. Drawing on a wide range of empirical cases she draws attention to a gritty, keeping-going kind of hope that is practices rather than felt, and that acknowledges risks and uncertainties.

Discussants: Li Jönsson and Kristina Lindström, senior lecturers at Malmö University. They currently run the research project Grief and Hope in Transition, which aims to engage diverse publics into imaging and performing fossil free futures, that encompasses loss as well as hope. The project is situated in rural Skåne, and funded by Formas.

Seminar series

This seminar is part of a series hosted by the research platform Collaborative Future-Making.

View all seminars in the series