Greenup Newsletter 15: Wicked India Week 3

Guest session led by Vandana Singh

Logistics

Session 3 will be held at a non-standard time - It’s scheduled for Friday, November 20th at 7:00 PM IST. Zoom link remains the same. I will remind you once again next week.

Homework

We have had 52 submissions to the homework assignment so far.

To everyone who has submitted, thank you! I have read all of them. If you haven’t submitted your entry:

Please do so now. We will be using these submissions to create groups for the next group imagination stage.

Feedback

Please fill out this form and tell us how the course is going so far. We love any and all feedback - it will help us improve the sessions that remain. It’s anonymous.

Session 3: Vandana Singh

Vandana Singh is a writer of speculative fiction and a professor of physics at a small and lively public university (Framingham State University) near Boston. Her critically acclaimed short stories have been reprinted in numerous best-of-year anthologies, and her most recent collection, Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories (Small Beer Press and Zubaan, 2018) was a finalist for the Philip K. Dick award. A particle physicist by training, she has been working for a decade on a transdisciplinary, justice-based conceptualization of the climate crisis at the nexus of science, pedagogy and society. She is a Fellow of the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University.

In case you haven’t read her books, I would strongly suggest getting a copy of Ambiguity Machines.

Some notes from Vandana on the upcoming session 👇🏾

Our current complex of crises – from rising inequality and human misery to climate change and other ongoing environmental disasters – put into question the possibility of the future as we have been led to imagine it. One of the major barriers to thinking creatively and usefully about the future is what I call the ‘reality trap,’ where our current perception of reality severely limits our conceptions of alternatives.

Enter the speculative imagination!

The imagination, informed by a polyphonic (rather than a single dominant) reality, energized by an ethically grounded curiosity and openness, can help us transcend the reality trap. After endless decades of having the future shaped for us and sold to us by the very forces that have brought us the current complex of crises, forces that are already strategizing for, colonizing and building they future they want, let us throw off the epistemic shackles and collectively play with speculative futures as we imagine, conceive of and enliven them.

We are a storytelling species, and so we will do this not through a discipline-based exercise of extrapolating trends in technology or in social norms and behaviors, but through story. Because the informed imagination can often be more creative, we will do some reading ahead. It is not necessary to read these in great detail, but do please read enough to get the gist.  The aim of this workshop is not to create a blueprint for a livable future – that will take a lot more work and time! – but to take the first crucial step: to free the imagination.

Readings from Vandana

1-3 are compulsory, the rest are optional

  1. https://www.brainpickings.org/2017/04/13/ursula-k-le-guin-operating-instructions-words-are-my-matter/ 

  2. https://www.jasonhickel.org/blog/2018/10/27/degrowth-a-call-for-radical-abundance 

  3. https://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/towards-alternatives-radical-ecological-democracy/

  4. https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/29/carol-dweck-mindset/

  5. https://grist.org/article/indigenous-people-can-manage-their-forests-better-than-anyone-else/

  6. https://rightsandresources.org/carbon-rights-analysis-2018/

  7. https://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/planetary-boundaries/planetary-boundaries/about-the-research/the-nine-planetary-boundaries.html

  8. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/329541042_Is_it_possible_to_achieve_a_good_life_for_all_within_planetary_boundaries

Keeping in Mind

Vandana’s session is going to be fantastic. As background, here’s a little edited snippet from the first session’s transcript (thanks to Otter.ai):

So there is a new discipline called design fiction. And design fiction basically says, How do you imagine something in the near future? … So science fiction could be things that are imagined hundreds of millions of years from now, you know, spaceships going through galaxies. Design fiction is something that might be true in 10 years. So if you want to imagine India in 2030, that would be design fiction. Climate Leviathan is basically a take on a very famous book by the English political philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who wrote a book called Leviathan, which many people consider to be the foundation of the modern state. Climate Leviathan is how do you imagine a modern state in the era of climate change. And of course, for India in particular, that we need to imagine what India's future is. And that's what the third book is about the imaginary institution of India.

Vandana is going to give us lots of ideas and tools to speculate about the near future; let’s make sure to add our Climate-India-Flourishing twist to that tale.

Final Thoughts

  1. Submit your homework

  2. Fill out the feedback form

  3. Session is next Friday, not Tuesday