I did pretty well at sending out (and landing) abstracts for conference and journal papers during my PhD, but I lost a lot of momentum in 2018, The Year Of The Interminable Corrections. This was partly due to lacking the time and energy and security to really think about it, but I realise with hindsight it was also a lot about a loss of confidence in my work.
However, it looks like postdoctoral employment and a comparatively secure income have done wonders for my paper-pitching mojo. On Monday I filed the first draft of a long paper on the ethics of speculation, co-authored with my PI, for a special issue of the journal Global Discourse; I also got back the edits on a chapter on “smart cities” for a big handbook on social futures that I was invited to write for way back at the start of the year. (For them as aren’t aware, academic publishing moves pretty slowly, not least because most of the writing and editing and admin is done for free as a side-car to everyone’s day-jobs. Which is just one of the reasons we get so pissed off about the publishers gouging so much money out of the system at every opportunity they get… the Swedish university system boycotted Elsevier for that very reason, in fact.)
But it’s conference papers where I’ve really been rocking it — almost too successfully, perhaps, given that I have around one paper (or invited talk, which amounts to the same thing in terms of cognitive workload) per month until the end of the year. And so, mostly for the sake of organising my own thoughts (plus a certain sense of self-congratulation, if I’m honest), here’s the gig dates for my autumn/winter tour:
- Wednesday August 28th 2019: RGS-IBG International Conference, Kensington, London. Paper title: “Metasystemics: towards an ontological theory of concrete infrastructure”; this is based on the theoretical aspects of my thesis.
- Wednesday September 25th 2019: Primer, nr. Copenhagen, Denmark. Invited talk, as yet untitled, but it’s part of Primer’s ongoing futures project The Future Hides That It Hides Nothing.)
- Wednesday October 9th — Friday October 11th 2019: Anticipation 2019, Oslo, Norway. (This is less a paper than a… well, than a sort of LARPy design fiction performance routine masquerading as a panel at a design’n’futures conference? It’s an extension of the Museum of Carbon Ruins, which is in turn a part of the Climaginaries project. And it’s going to be proper good fun, I suspect.)
- Wednesday October 30th 2019: Constructing the Future symposium, Huddersfield, UK (as part of the Cosmia SFF festival). Paper title: “Climaginaries: putting the critical dystopia to work”; a chance to talk more about the science-fictional aspects of the work I’m doing. And a conference pretty much right on my doorstep, which is always nice.
- Thursday 14th November — Friday 15th November 2019: Scenarios and the Politics of the Future at the Climate-Security Nexus, a workshop arranged by the Climate, Climatic Change and Society cluster (CLICCS) at the University of Hamburg. Paper title: “Jumping the shark: lessons from media fandoms regarding the coherence of climate imaginaries”. A new angle, but one that I think might provide an interesting and different direction for the work.
- Thursday 5th December — Saturday 7th December 2019: The Senses of Science Fiction: Visions, Sounds, Spaces, American Studies Centre, University of Warsaw, Poland. Provocation title: “Acting your age: design fiction, Nordic LARP and the embodiment of critical utopia-as-method against the Capitalocene.” Part of a weird and playful stream of stuff shepherded by the inimitable Frances Gene-Rowe of the LSFRG… and a good excuse to hang out with the same crew of scholars and researchers I spent time with in Graz last December.
So, yeah — lots of work to do, what with prepping all of those, and doing the actual academic work that they describe, plus shovelling through the big drift of freelance work that kicked off this month. And there’s another tour date early next month that I’m not going to talk about in detail for fear of jinxing it, but it could be a pretty transformative event, depending on how it goes. I guess we’ll see.
The going got weird, the weird turned pro: I’m leaning into this as hard as I can right now, and so far it seems to be working. But I’d best be getting on with things, hadn’t I?