Future-forming interdisciplinary research

Future of World Orders

Led by Astrid Nordin

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Future of World Orders

Much of futures research has focused on the futures that are imagined by a fairly small segment of the world’s population, a segment which currently possesses the power to make its desired future heard and appear as common sense. The future of world orders research theme brings to the fore imaginations of the world imagined by those who are not part of that privileged global elite.

Image courtesy of Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung

The theme explores how social futures on a world scale are imagined in arguments for what is often referred to as a “post-Western world order”. These arguments imagine a “modern West” whose politics, economics and thought are said to be hegemonic on a world stage. Recent financial and social crises in North America and Europe, combined with violent opposition from groups like ISIS and the rise of BRICS countries, have bolstered interest in claims that “non-Western” parts of the world have access to better ways of imagining the future, based on their own traditions of thought. These claims emanate from various segments of society. They exist at governmental level, in the foreign policy of a number of countries that argue for a new world order to replace what is seen as an unfair and violent American system. They currently thrive in various corners of the academe, where scholars aim to “decolonize” their disciplines. They are vocal in grassroots movements, non-governmental organizations, and subcultures that imagine a range of social futures, often in artistic, creative, humorous and satirical ways. Many of these alternative world orders are not written about in academic work, but are performed, sung, drawn, danced or ritualized in various ways.

Key questions:

  • If actors beyond the current global elites have a chance to reshape world order, what would they like the future to look like?
  • What assumptions about time, space, change and continuity underpin these imaginations?
  • Do they imagine social futures in the singular, plural, or something else entirely?
  • Where do under-privileged groups share desires, hopes and dreams for the future, with the potential for futures-forming intersectional alliances?
  • How are these desires, hopes and dreams made visible or invisible (audible or inaudible, sensed or unsensed) to others?
  • How can academics, creatives, community groups and students engage with these diverse futures in better ways?