After Progress | Digital Exhibition | Call for Stories!

Due to the overwhelming interest in this call, we have extended the deadline to 1st February 5pm GMT!

How to reimagine human and more-than-human arts of living and flourishing from the ruins of the modern idea of progress? What would counter-progressive stories sound like? What would they read like? What might earthbound, collaborative forms of storytelling engender after progress?

We invite storytelling proposals from groups and individuals from around the world, with stories that might help us envisage ways of living and dying well outside of the modern coordinates of progress.

The notion of “progress” is arguably the defining idea of modernity: a civilisational imagery of a boundless, linear, and upwards trajectory towards a future that, guided by reason and technology, will be “better” than the present. It was this notion that placed techno-science at the heart of modern political culture, and it was the global unevenness of “progress” that imagined European imperialism as a civilising mission inflicted upon “backward” others for their own sake. Thanks to the relentless work carried out by decolonisation movements, as well as by scholars across the social sciences and humanities, the colonial, , rationalistic, and ecocidal consequences of the story of “progress” have been laid bare, even if they still govern our imaginations today. At the same time, the ruins of progress are teeming with divergent worlds and collective experiments whose stories upend the its modern dreams, cultivating plural value-ecologies of living and dying with others on Earth. How to intensify them? How to make them felt?

In 2019 the Unit of Play hosted a very successful After Progress symposium series to help us develop ideas, concepts, questions, and propositions to activate arts of living after progress. But we also need stories that regenerate our imaginations, that connect our sense-making with the sense of other worlds-in-the-making. In the spirit of The Sociological Review’s track-record in promoting the generative interlacing of social science and fiction, we are calling for collaborative experiments in storytelling that take it upon themselves to explore and dramatise the above questions. At a time of social distancing, home-based work, but also of increased digital interactions, we invite collaborative storytellling proposals from individuals and groups from around the world (with or without institutional affiliations) to work together on stories that might help up envisage lives and deaths outside of the modern coordinates of progress. Accepted submissions will form part of a digital exhibition to be published in Autumn 2021.

Stories can be speculative, ethnographic, poetic, drawing on or reinventing any genre: we welcome a wide variety of narrative forms, SF, nature writing, poetry, aphorisms, brief dramas, letters and epistolary forms, fictional encyclopaedia entries, instructions, original bestiary entries, etc. Most things except essays! We understand “stories” in a very expansive sense: text, image, film, sound, or a combination of the above. We also welcome them in any language (though we may request English translations to be submitted as well). What matters is that they probe, through different genres and media, imaginative social practices, artefacts, environments, arts of living and dying, forms of political action, kinship, subjectivity, and more-than-human worlds in a possible future no longer governed by modern coordinates of progress.

The call is open to everyone (academics, students, artists, activists, and many others), preferably groups (but we also welcome individual submissions), who may be interested in weaving speculative stories that imagine and experiment with what living and dying well after progress might look like.

Would you like to meet others to collaborate on a story together? Get in touch with us at: !

Themes may involve (but are not limited to):

  • Ecology, Climate Change, and “Nature” after progress
  • Health, Illness and Healing after progress
  • Animal Lives after progress
  • After Capitalism
  • Decolosination after progress
  • Social and Environmental Justice after progress
  • Multispecies flourishing after progress
  • Science after progress
  • Aesthetics after progress
  • Education after Progress
  • Progressive Politics after progress
  • Stories of decay, resurgence, or collapse
  • Indigenous futures and heritages after progress
  • Political activism, struggles and experiments after progress
  • Alternative timelines, counterfactual stories
  • Civilisation after progress
  • Death and dying after progress
  • History after progress
  • Energy after progress
  • Food after progress
  • Etc.

Storytelling Guidelines

  • Format: short story/poem/short drama/single or individual images/ short film
  • Style: a variety of narrative forms, SF, nature writing, poetry, aphorisms, brief dramas, letters and epistolary forms, fictional encyclopaedia entries, instructions, original bestiary entries, etc.
  • Language: Any (plus English translation where relevant).
  • Copyright: work must be previously unpublished (or permissions for reuse should be secured and attached–please get in touch with us if you’re intending to reuse your own material). Authors will retain copyright of their submissions.

Submission Timeline

  • 1st February 2021, 5pm GMT: Proposals
  • 16th May 2021: Draft Stories.
  • 16th August 2021: Final Stories.

This project is directed by Dr Martin Savransky (Goldsmiths, University of London) and Dr Craig Lundy (Nottingham Trent University). It is generously funded by The Sociological Review Foundation, with the support of the MA Ecology, Culture & Society and the Unit of Play, Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London.