Past remarkable: using life stories to trace alternative futures

Palmer, Jane (2014) Past remarkable: using life stories to trace alternative futures. Futures, 64. pp. 29-37. ISSN 0016-3287

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Abstract

The paper argues that life stories and histories offer different perspectives on the past, with implications for studying the future. A life is proposed as a form of 'social site' (Marston, S.A., J.P. Jones III & K. Woodward 2005, 'Human geography without scale', Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, vol. 30, pp. 416-432.) where the future is met and negotiated. Unlike the broad sweep of historical narrative, a focus on the site of a life can reveal cumulative losses, futures denied and paths not taken. Life stories challenge historical narrative with alternative futures that ‘might-have-been’; they might therefore usefully be added as a more experimental type to Inayatullah’s taxonomy of historical 'traces' (Inayatullah, S. 2012, 'Humanity 3000: A comparative analysis of methodological approaches to forecasting the long-term', Foresight, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 401-417).

A case study based on a life story from Aceh is used to demonstrate ways in which alternative futures can emerge from life stories and then be acted upon. The paper concludes that the experimental power of life stories as historical traces lies not only in the stories themselves but in the unique event of storytelling and its potentially transformative impact on the teller and listener, and hence the future.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Access to accepted version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2016 04:48
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2016 06:00
Uncontrolled Keywords: experimentation, life stories, potential futures, historical traces, transformative learning, narrative
Fields of Research : 16 Studies in Human Society > 1601 Anthropology > 160101 Anthropology of Development
16 Studies in Human Society > 1601 Anthropology > 160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology
16 Studies in Human Society > 1604 Human Geography > 160403 Social and Cultural Geography
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified
E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society
D Environment > 96 Environment > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960311 Social Impacts of Climate Change and Variability
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1016/j.futures.2014.10.002
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/28140

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