Imagining the Future: Financial Capitalism & the Social Imagination

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UCL Institute of Advanced Studies, Common Ground, Ground Floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building


United Kingdom

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Conference Organisers: Aris Komporozos-Athanasiou (UCL) and Chiara Bottici (The New School)

Keynote Speakers: Ruth Levitas (Bristol) and Jens Beckert (Cologne)

Full Programme here:


How do the fictitious operations of markets shape our perceptions of the future? How do the worlds of fiction and reality coalesce to produce dominant valuations of the future? What are the implications of financial imagination for articulating radical alternatives to such dominant future projections? This one-day conference brings together theoretically-driven approaches from a range of disciplines to explore the various ‘intersections’ between political, economic and social imaginaries of financial capitalism.

Hosted by the UCL Department of Social Science, and the Social Theory Research Group at UCL, in association with the New School for Social Research in New York. With support from the Institute of Advanced Studies at UCL, and the IAS Planetary Futures research grant. Part of ‘The Radical Imagination’ research project, a collaboration between the Department of Social Science at UCL and the New School for Social Research in New York.


9.00: Registration

(tea & coffee)

9.30-10.15: Keynote address

Ruth Levitas (Bristol)

Recovering Social Hope

10.15-11.45 Panel 1: Hope in Real (estate?) Utopia

Chair: Aris Komporozos-Athanasiou (UCL)

Ana Dinerstein (Bath)

Concrete utopias and the open veins of capital

Bilge Serin (Heriot-Watt)

How Utopia Became a Real Estate Leaflet

Priscilla Alderson (UCL)

Imagining Justice and Hope between Generations

Coffee break

12.00-13.00 Panel 2: Art & Horizons of Debt

Chair: Chiara Bottici (The New School)

Joshua Simon (MoBY-Museums of Bat Yam)

Speculation and counter-speculation

Stevphen Shukaitis (Essex)

Between the devil and the debt blue sea

Lunch break

14.15-15.45 Panel 3: Financialised Futures

Chair: Will Davis (Goldsmiths)

Jan Dutkiewicz (The New School)

Uncertain Hog Futures: Biocapitalist Crisis and Financialisation on the Factory Farm

Tobias Olofsson (Uppsala)

Economic recoverability: The construction and justification of imagined futures in mineral exploration

Jay Wiggan (Edinburgh)

Selling Financialised Welfare Futures

15.45-17.15 Panel 4: Imagination, Imaginary, Imaginal

Chair: Margarita Palacios (Birkbeck)

Chiara Bottici (The New School)

Imaginal economies and feminist subversions

Tai Young-Taft (Bard College)

Marx’s Theory of Money and 21st-century Macrodynamics

Aris Komporozos-Athanasiou (UCL)

The Political Economy of Imagination

Coffee break

17.30-18.15 Keynote address

Jens Beckert (Max Plank Institute, Cologne)

The Exhausted Futures of Neoliberalism

18.15-18.30: Closing Remarks

18.30-20.30: Reception


Aris Komporozos-Athanasiou is a political sociologist and Assistant Professor of Social Theory in the Department of Social Science at University College London. He completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2013. His current projects include a book monograph on the Political Economy of Imagination, and a study of the intersections between financialisation and populism in Europe.

Chiara Bottici is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research. She is the author, among others, of Imaginal Politics: Images beyond Imagination and The Imaginary (Columbia University Press 2014) A Philosophy of Political Myth (Cambridge University Press 2007) and Men and States (Palgrave 2009). With Benoit Challand, she also co-authored Imagining Europe: Myth, Memory, Identity (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and The Myth of the Clash of Civilizations (Routledge, 2010)


Ruth Levitas is Professor Emerita of Sociology at the University of Bristol, founding Chair of Utopian Studies Society Europe and former Chair of the William Morris Society. She has written widely on utopia, politics, policy and poverty. Her most recent book is Utopia as Method: The Imaginary Reconstitution of Society, Palgrave 2013.

Jens Beckert is Professor of Sociology and director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne. His research focuses on the fields of economic sociology, sociology of inheritance, organization theory and social theory. His publications include: Imagined Futures. Fictional Expectations and Capitalist Dynamics (Harvard University Press 2016), Constructing Quality. The Classification of Goods in Markets. (Oxford University Press, 2013 edited together with Christine Musselin). Inherited Wealth (Princeton University Press, 2008)

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United Kingdom

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