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Worldbuilding for Futures Beyond Capitalism

An image of a map with neon swatches of color on top.

Published January 25, 2024

A Kahn Institute Short-Term Project

Friday, March 8, 5–8 p.m. and Saturday, March 9, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

Organizing Fellows

Alix Gerber, Interdisciplinary Design Practices
Juan Sebastián Ospina, Philosophy 

Project Description

What would a future beyond capitalism look like?

We live in a world where legacies of colonialism promote a particular vision of progress and modernity, where racial capitalism systematically stockpiles power and resources into the hands of a few while prioritizing reckless and persistent economic growth around the world. Despite these powerful systems, people engage in a range of alternative survive-and-thrive strategies to organize production and distribute resources on smaller scales. We build Indigenous life projects, forage for mushrooms in public forests, nurture structures of cooperative ownership, care for each other, and queer the ways we meet our needs. Indeed, we already imagine and instigate world-building tactics for the future. Whether as a mode of survival or an effort of political prefiguration, groups build the worlds they want and need within the shell of the larger world.

In this Kahn project, we invite fellows to bring their expertise and/or interest in anti-capitalist histories and presents as we collectively engage in a creative worldbuilding process. Worldbuilding travels across disciplines, practices, and discourses, whether from social movements that prefigure the futures they seek through collective action, care, and cooperation or from science-fiction efforts to imagine worlds through stories as their characters populate new landscapes and socialities. This creative process of imagining and envisioning diverse possible worlds can enable the conditions of how to work together towards radical futures.

Making Radical Futures, a Smith Humanities and Social Sciences Lab organized by Alix Gerber, Post-Graduate Fellow in Interdisciplinary Design Practices, is creating a fictional illustrated map of the Connecticut River Valley in 2424, populated by the visions of those engaged in local anti-capitalist projects, and extensions of these visions across time and around the globe. Participants in this workshop will contribute to this map by bringing their own positions and visions about futures without capitalism into dialogue, informed by their expertise, creativity, experiences, and histories.

In this two-day workshop, we will discuss, collaborate, and create what futures beyond capitalism might look like. The workshop asks participants to share their ideas on imagined anti-capitalist possibilities that they are currently grappling with or working on. To facilitate our discussion and collaboration, the first day of the workshop will focus on a position statement (500–1000 words) that each participant will submit to share with the group before the workshop begins. This statement does not need to be polished and thoroughly thought out, but rather, it should convey some of the questions and ideas you have for imagining a future beyond capitalism.

On the second day, we will translate the vision from our discussions and position statements into drawings of concrete places, activities, objects, etc., using the Making Radical Futures Lab methodology. This process will allow fellows to create fictional writing and drawings to contribute to the ongoing development of the Lab’s map of the Valley in the future. We hope this workshop can show the potential for creative making as a cross-disciplinary language that enables us to share and develop future visions.

Share your interest by Friday, February 9

If you have questions about the project, please feel free to contact us for more information. To join the conversation, please complete this form by Friday, February 9. Applicants will be notified about their acceptance by Friday, February 16, and must confirm their attendance by Friday, February 23.