Is another future possible? So called ‘late modernity’ is marked by the escalating rise in and proliferation of uncertainties and unforeseen events brought about by the interplay between and patterning of social–natural, techno–scientific and political-economic developments. The future has indeed become problematic. The question of how heterogeneous actors engage futures, what intellectual and practical strategies they put into play and what the implications of such strategies are, have become key concerns of recent social and cultural research addressing a diverse range of fields of practice and experience. Exploring questions of speculation, possibilities and futures in contemporary societies, Speculative Research responds to the pressing need to not only critically account for the role of calculative logics and rationalities in managing societal futures, but to develop alternative approaches and sensibilities that take futures seriously as possibilities and that demand new habits and practices of attention, invention, and experimentation.
"In this remarkable and innovative collection of essays, the authors give renewed value, meaning and, above all, empirical relevance to the practice of speculation. Speculation is rescued from the hands of the speculators!"
Andrew Barry, Chair of Human Geography, University College London.
"This beautifully written collection of essays represents an exciting exploration of the contemporary importance of making speculation centre stage. The book is a landmark in the philosophy and methodology of social science. It does not just illuminate the value of process philosophy – it also provides methodological and practical approaches to doing socially significant research. It is a must read for anyone that wants to take the turn to ontology and affect seriously."
Joanna Latimer, Professor of and Chair in Sociology, Science and Technology. University of York.
"Speculative Research is a truly unique collection that offers much needed inspiration for thinking beyond present conditions and the futures they seem to make impossible. It invites us to engage with a generative tradition of speculative thought that has yet to fulfil its radical practical potential. The stimulating contributions to this volume offer remarkable examples of what thinking speculatively can mean in encounters with specific research fields and problems – faithful to the empirical but not bounded by it, an adventurous yet careful inquiry. In composing this volume, Wilkie, Savransky and Rosengarten have achieved both a generous prolongation and innovative experimentation with speculative thought."
Maria Puig de la Bellacasa, Associate Professor of Science, Technology and Organisation, University of Leicester.
"Speculative Research is a remarkably prescient book that opens up new vistas of experimental thought and practice for contemporary social and cultural research. In reclaiming the question of the speculative from its more recent and notorious variants, this collection crystalizes how the possibilities of more–than–human futures can be engaged with empirical and conceptual assiduousness without relinquishing the challenges and risks of what is to come and what is possible to the logics of the probable. As the editors and contributors insist, developing a speculative sensitivity involves the care for and acceptance of knowledge practices that are part of the cultivation of new futures."
Antoine Hennion, Professor & Director of Research, Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation, Mines ParisTech, Paris.
"Redeeming speculation against its negative connotations, this exciting book exhibits the multiple potentials of speculative social research. Engaging in a struggle against the deadening effects of probability and inevitability, it opens up for thinking and making alternative futures, inducing readers to come along for the ride."
Casper Bruun Jensen, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Osaka University.
1. The Lure of Possible Futures: On Speculative Research, (Martin Savransky, Alex Wilkie & Marsha Rosengarten)
Part 1: Speculative Propositions
Section Introduction, (Martin Savransky, Marsha Rosengarten, Alex Wilkie)
2. The Wager of an Unfinished Present: Notes on Speculative Pragmatism, (Martin Savransky)
3. Speculative Research, Temporality and Politics, (Rosalyn Diprose)
4. Situated Speculation as a Constraint on Thought, (Michael Halewood)
Part 2: Speculative Lures
Section Introduction, (Marsha Rosengarten, Martin Savransky, Alex Wilkie)
5. Pluralities of Action, a Lure for Speculative Thought, (Marsha Rosengarten)
6. Doing Speculation to Curtail Speculation, (Alex Wilkie & Mike Michael)
7. Retrocasting: Speculating about the Origins of Money, (Joe Deville)
Part 3: Speculative Techniques
Section Introduction, (Alex Wilkie, Marsha Rosengarten, Martin Savransky)
8. Sociology’s Archive: Mass-Observation as a Site of Speculative Research, (Lisa Adkins)
9. Developing Speculative Methods to Explore Speculative Shipping: Mail Art, Futurity and Empiricism, (Rebecca Coleman)
10. Creating Idiotic Speculators: Disaster Cosmopolitics in the Sandbox, (Michael Guggenheim, Bernd Kräftner & Judith Kröll)
11.'Too Sweet to Kill' – A Contribution to the Art of Cosmopolitics, (Michael Schillmeier & Yvonne Lee Schultz)
Part 4: Speculative Implications
Section Introduction, (Martin Savransky, Alex Wilkie, Marsha Rosengarten)
12. On Isabelle Stengers’ ‘Cosmopolitics’: A Speculative Adventure, (Vikki Bell)
13. Aesthetic Experience, Speculative Thought, and Civilized Life, (Michael L. Thomas)
14. The Lure of the Possible: On the Function of Speculative, (Didier Debaise)
15. Postscript, (Monica Greco)
This series establishes the importance of innovative contemporary, comparative and historical work on the relations between social, cultural and economic change. It publishes empirically-based research that is theoretically informed, that critically examines the ways in which social, cultural and economic change is framed and made visible, and that is attentive to perspectives that tend to be ignored or side-lined by grand theorising or epochal accounts of social change. The series addresses the diverse manifestations of contemporary capitalism, and considers the various ways in which the `social', `the cultural' and `the economic' are apprehended as tangible sites of value and practice. It is explicitly comparative, publishing books that work across disciplinary perspectives, cross-culturally, or across different historical periods.
We are particularly focused on publishing books in the following areas that fit with the broad remit of the series:
The series is actively engaged in the analysis of the different theoretical traditions that have contributed to critiques of the `cultural turn'. We are particularly interested in perspectives that engage with Bourdieu, Foucauldian approaches to knowledge and cultural practices, Actor-network approaches, and with those that are associated with issues arising from Deleuze's work around complexity, affect or topology. The series is equally concerned to explore the new agendas emerging from current critiques of the cultural turn: those associated with the descriptive turn for example. Our commitment to interdisciplinarity thus aims at enriching theoretical and methodological discussion, building awareness of the common ground has emerged in the past decade, and thinking through what is at stake in those approaches that resist integration to a common analytical model.