Tracking imaginations of modern sustainability

Preliminary sketch of ideas and research on the role of hope in establishing visions and pathways towards future worlds.

Title: Worlds of hope colonised? Tracking imaginations of modern sustainability in the 21st century

Authors: Cian O’Donovan, Saurabh Arora

Presented at: 4S Annual Meeting 2021. 8th October 2021

Session: Confronting Worlds. The Concept of “Worlds” and its stake


How are collective struggles for sustainability and racial justice, underpinned by hope for other worlds on earth? How do these hopes go beyond coloniality that lies at the heart of Modernity and its variants in postcolonial societies, which are associated with climate catastrophes, losses of species and languages, and now a pandemic exacerbating inequalities? ¬
In mainstream discussions on sustainability and justice, hope for another world is colonized by socio-material change driven by ‘eco-modernist technofixes’ or the rhetoric of ‘green and inclusive capitalism’. This drive leaves unchallenged forms of ongoing coloniality that superiorise Modern worlds using categorisations of race, rationality, civilization, nationality, caste, and religion. Often it also fails to confront extractivism based on objectification of nonhuman beings and processes in ‘nature’.
In this paper, we attempt to mat rather than map, hopes for other worlds through multimedia archival work with movements for sustainability and decolonial justice. We find that imaginations of pluriversal alternatives past and future, foreground four connected horizons for decolonizing hope. They include transforming ways of relating: a) Beyond Nation, through communality and intercultural conviviality; b) Beyond Human, through multiplying human-nature relations of radical care; c) Beyond Science, through epistemic justice and handcrafting futures; and d) Beyond Time, through cosmologies of divergent becoming of worlds.

Categories: presentation slides