(C) Laura Watts

The Work of a Poetic Ethnographer of Futures

Performance Presentation by Laura Watts

The future is not out-there, unknown and un-numbered. It is made from numbers, data, people, places, land, and sea. There are many futures made from these parts made in design, in dreams, in development. As they are made, they leave residues for a researcher to collect and weave together. This is my work as an ethnographer of futures: collaborating with my fieldsites to weave futures  not just through academic papers but through art books, poems, card games, audio walks, fanzines, and much else.

For the last six years I have been working with people and places around marine renewable energy in the Orkney islands, off the far north coast of Scotland. Here, the future lies at the edge.

In this performance and presentation, I will explore the methods (drawn from science and technology studies) and materials I have been experimenting with for writing futures otherwise – methods that hold on to nameless and numberless experiences that cannot be reduced to data, but that still form the future: like three red stars, blinking from the sea like a constellation, showing the pattern of a new wave energy machine.

Laura Watts is a writer, poet & ethnographer, and an Associate Professor in Science and Technology Studies (STS) at IT University of Copenhagen.


In the context of ‘doing research’ ‘in the field’(/wild) and ‘writing/producing a research report’ in the ‘Caring. Enactments of Heterogeneous Relationships’ annual project, we would like to look at different methods of research used in fieldwork and writing. Through inviting guests to share their working processes with us, we will ask how these methods relate to what is observed, how they construct the entities produced and determine what we can know.

The Work of a Poetic Ethnographer of Futures
May 30, 2016, 15:00h