The IRTG aims at a new perspective on the study of temporalities of the future in social and cultural sciences. We want to contribute to the growing field of research on temporalities of the future by realigning investigations towards a better understanding of global entanglements and the meaning of cultural heterogeneity, with Latin America standing as prime example of both aspects. Focussing on the aspirations and anticipations of various actors who produce new temporalities of the future through constant interaction adds a much-needed perspective on subaltern and non-Western agency with regard to the future. To encompass the complex plurality of Latin American temporalities of the future, research on aspirations and anticipations is organised along the investigative lines of a) protagonists of the future, b) projections made into the future, and c) processes that condition thinking about the future. A projection screen for future visions ever since the explorative phase of early globalisation, Latin America’s cultural heterogeneity and global entanglement have continued to produce new and often competing temporalities of the future, ranging from colonial times and through the independence movements up to the crises of the twenty-first century.
The IRTG will introduce an innovative approach to the interdisciplinary study of Latin America by looking at temporalities of the future from the angle of diverse social and cultural sciences. Historians, cultural anthropologists, cultural and literary studies experts will cooperate with sociologists, political scientists, and economists. The close cooperation of German and Mexican academic institutions fosters joint empirical and theoretical research on an equal footing in an innovative interdisciplinary framework. It allows for a multidirectional investigation of temporalities of the future in colonial, postcolonial and contemporary Latin America.
Understanding time and temporalities as socially constructed, we propose to employ an actor-centred approach to everyday-practices of aspirations and anticipations in a region, which has been marginalised in the process of Western colonization and modernization. Approaching practices of ‘doing the future’ offer the advantage of encompassing a broad range of relevant activities, beginning with those of the actors’ routines when anticipating the future and including aspirations they strategically engage in with the aim of shaping the future. Thus, we will offer a new approach to the topic and add a much needed perspective on subaltern and non-Western agency with regard to the future.
Human beings perceive time in terms of temporalities, according to their cultural contexts. By preferring the plural ‘temporalities’ over the singular ‘temporality’ we emphasize the fact that no concept of time has ever been all-encompassing and valid for all societies or within individual societies. Rather, different concepts of time and time regimes have co-existed and continue to co-exist, sometimes peacefully, but more often as means and reasons for conflicts.
It is exactly the clash and entanglement between different temporalities that our IRTG is interested in. By focusing on events and processes that are ‘not yet’ (in distinction to ‘not any more’) perceivable, we want to shed light on and analyse practices of actors that explicitly or implicitly aim at dealing with times to come. Assuming that concepts of future spur people into action, these actions related to the times to come can be empirically observed and analysed as aspirations and anticipations.