In our understanding, processes are series of individual and collective social interactions that encompass different moments in time. In this perspective, processes bring together different temporalities which interact with the hegemonic temporal order. Through these interactions and entanglements of different temporalities, multiple social and cultural processes become visible which relate the past and the present to the future in different ways. For example, violence in (post-)conflict societies is a temporal process relating past, present and future; the ways in which experiences of violence are remembered, (re-)imagined and embodied shape people’s capacities to aspire and their possibilities to anticipate the future. Social theories, especially development and modernization theory, conceptualize processes as dynamics that are directed towards the future and conditioned by the past within given societal structures. This leads to a unidirectional understanding of ‘process as progress’, with a clear separation between past, present and future. All individuals, societies and regions that do not participate in the ‘process as progress’ are seen as ‘the others’ and relegated to the ‘waiting room of history’.
What processes discernibly affect the aspirations and anticipations of actors in Latin America? What do they tell us about different temporalities?
The uneven social distribution of the capacity to aspire, as exemplified in economic, urban or environmental processes in Latin America, is a main explanation for competing visions of the future and their implementation in a given space. Certain social groups or individuals enhance their aspirational capacities to push new beginnings as much as to put an end to undesirable structures, aiming at a literal non-future for social conditions of exploitation, corruption, individual indebtedness or civil war. For instance, in the context of migration processes, future decisions are shaped by structures of inequality and poverty, and these influence people’s capacities to aspire. At the micro-level, emigration of one or more family members has become an important mechanism among the Latin American poor to gain additional household revenue in a foreign economic environment perceived as safer. The new geopolitical constellation and deportation policies pose further uncertainties and challenges to risk management and coping strategies of poor households.
Uneven social distribution is also said to be one of the most important reasons for criminality and violence in Latin America. Yet state actors often interpret and combat violent and criminal acts as problems of security. This process of ‘securitization’ has in many Latin American cities led to technological armament (establishment of networks between different security institutions and data bases, installations of video cameras, etc.), for which the pilot project Detecta, a new big-data policing tool currently implemented in São Paulo’s wealthy district Morumbi, stands as an emblematic example. The exertions connected with Detecta aim at anticipating future criminal acts and crime prevention. The outcomes of ‘predictive policing’ measures enabled by new human-machine assemblages, however, are still uncertain. While the stated goal of predictive policing is to reduce crime rates and violence, it could also do the opposite, by exacerbating profiling and selective policing and perpetuating racial bias. While big data policing and predictive policing are processes inseparably connected to certain actors (mostly security institutions like the police) and projections of the future, the latter have great effects on the present realities of people.