Risk Society: call for essays, projects and research

01 Jun Risk Society: call for essays, projects and research

Risk Society Issue #1: call for contributions

deadline extended to 1 September 2020

Societies worldwide face unprecedented future uncertainties. The information age allows for new perceptions on risks, which increasingly began to play a central role in policies and broader decision-making. Today, the growing amount of data on biodiversity loss, destructive nanotechnology, global pandemics, and other high-stakes scenarios leave present policy makers primarily tasked with reducing the possibility of something ‘bad’ or ‘worse’ to happen in the future. The term Risk Society describes how modern societies deal with these high levels of uncertainty created by modernity itself. However, as Anthony Giddens points out when elaborating on Ulrich Becks’ famous work, “The idea of ‘risk society’ might suggest a world which has become more hazardous, but this is not necessarily so. Rather, it is a society increasingly preoccupied with the future (and also with safety), which generates the notion of risk.” In contrast to what seemingly ‘objective’ data implies, risks are first and foremost speculative narratives that emerge from cultural and historical contexts. In this regard it is more and more important to understand that precarity and uncertainty are not just conditions that will pass, but function as new forms of governance that shape the current state of the world.  In short, risks do not only affect the world hereafter, but future speculations also fundamentally impact societies in the present day.

Risk Society, an interdisciplinary publication that deals with local and global cultures of risks, encourages contributions for its debut issue. We believe that a sharper lens is needed to be brought to bear on alternative models of measurement and thinking, and on the way how regelation regimes regenerate social, economic and political power structures. We invite scholars, investigative journalists and artists to elaborate on how certain risks are understood, weaponized, manipulated and produced. More than ever we feel public discussions should be focusing on complex perspectives that are easily overshadowed by dominant media discourses. Therefore, while approaching risks as an intellectual terrain, we especially welcome contributions of empiric cases that illustrate how risk narratives are sites for social ordering. Moreover, we notice that existing explorations and alternative knowledge systems often struggle to translate theory into practice. We especially encourage thinkers to consider and develop alternative models of knowledge, governance and praxis.

Although definitely not limited to, contributions might cover the topics of bodily, psychological and spiritual health, labor security, the environment, technological developments and dataism, religious traditions, cryptocurrency, poverty, and space exploration and governance. We encourage and seek decentralized dialogues, in which different voices can coexist and create different narratives of the future. We welcome critical pieces from thinkers and practitioners that provide:

  • Insights on the creation and use of risk narratives from a global, meso and local perspective.
  • Possibilities for alternative models of knowledge, measurement and narration that acknowledge ambiguity, complexity and diversity when facing the future and all of its uncertainties.
  • Ways to challenge and disrupt the nexus between risk and power and develop alternative designs for how risks might be governed, presented, discussed and disseminated.
  • Elaborations on the ethical issues attached to current regulation regimes concerning the question of liability, blame and the enforcement of human and non-human ontologies.

We welcome textual submissions and book reviews of ca. 1500 words each. Accepted visual forms include new media, sound, audio visual essays, photographs and others. Selected projects will be published digitally in Risk Society #1 in the Fall of 2020. Submissions accompanied with a short CV can be send before 1 August 2020 to sarah@risksociety.org. Please contact Risk Society for more information about the procedure and editorial guidelines.

Risk Society is part of the Risk Society Initiative (RSI) a radically transdisciplinary space for experimental praxis to advance new models for navigating high-stakes, high-uncertainty scenarios. Through the lens of present-day events, RSI explores the notion of risks from the angles of Uncertainty & Speculation, Data & Knowledge, Mitigation & Control and Liability & Ethics. The political motivation of RSI is to advance the post-2030 agenda. In contrast to the U.N. 2030 agenda for sustainable development economic growth is not a necessary part of it. Instead, RSI suggests acknowledging transgenerational risks, reflecting an understanding of the interconnectedness of all lifeforms, establishing alternative and non-western models of knowledge and truth-making, and introducing parameters for clear accountabilities. Its goal is ontological rather than additive change; it puts structural reforms and systemic change at the core of the agenda in its aims to make a substantial contribution to the continued existence, vitality and diversity of human and non-human communities.


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