COLLABORATIVE FUTURE-MAKING | Seminar
Tuesday 4 May, 13:00 - 15:00
Speculative Fiction and the Bureaucracy of the Future
In this seminar, we want to discuss the impact of bureaucracy in visions of the future. The question we are asking is if bureaucracy has a role to play in the futures we imagine.
Petra Ragnerstam and Asko Kauppinen are looking at literary representations that speculate about and engage with how bureaucracies can contribute to future-making. These are not easy to find. Traditionally, literature has been mostly concerned with articulating the ills, failings, and horrors of bureaucracy. The work of Franz Kafka is paradigmatic in this respect: bureaucracy in Kafka’s works is an uncontrolled state machine whose main function is to keep the citizens at bay and to protect itself from interventions.
In engaging with the future, most particularly in Science Fiction, the same observations can be made. Either, the novels do not include bureaucracy in their future visions, or bureaucracy is seen as an ill. One could argue that those novels in many respects are anti-bureaucratic. One interesting exception to this, however, is the writer Kim Stanley Robinson, whose fiction depicts scenarios of global bureaucracy as an intricate part of solving issues of climate change.
With Petra Ragnerstam and Asko Kauppinen, scholars at the School of Arts and Communication and affiliated with the Collaborative Future-Making research platform.