Chapter 2: Agora

Narratopias’ “Agora” is the place for discussing, confronting, connecting, and continuing transformative narratives, testing new forms of collective dialogue or projection.

The initial “Agora” cycle will take the form of four meetings between May and July, 2021. Its goal is to explore the reasons why new or alternative narratives are felt to be necessary, and the conditions under which they can actually make meaningful change more possible.

Why do we need to talk about new narratives?

Each session will discuss narratives under the multiple and complexe ways to look at one. Two participants are in charge of kickstarting the discussion and a written synthesis will be produced after each meeting, to serve as a foundation for future actions and projects.

Session 1, May 14th @ 9am CEST :Why are Narratives important?

Narratives seem to be everywhere these days. Many thinkers, politicians, activists, artists, etc., call for “new” or “alternative narratives?” - But why, and what for?
Our first questions for this cycle are therefore the following: Why do narratives seem so important? What do they actually do? And what “narratives” are we talking about?

The initiators for this session are:

  • Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay Associate Professor in Global Culture Studies at the University of Oslo, Norway. He leads the international research group CoFUTURES. He is the leader (PI)ofthe European Research Council project “CoFutures: Pathways to Possible Presents” and the Norwegian Research Council project “Science Fictionality”.

  • Dr. Ivana Milojević, Director, Metafuture and Metafuture School. Dr. Milojević has a professional background in sociology, education, gender, peace and futures studies. She has held professorships at several universities and has introduced, designed and taught university courses in Australia (The University of Queensland and The University of the Sunshine Coast), Serbia (University of Novi Sad) and Taiwan (Tamkang University). Along with international presentations and public lectures, Dr Milojević has organized and facilitated foresight workshops and engaged in consultancies at all around the world.

Session 2, June 9th @ 1pm CEST: How can we Make Narratives More Plural?

History, they say, is written by the victors. But when the dominant narratives (of progress, of markets, of Western-style democracy, etc.) appear exhausted, other narratives and other narrators appear - or just become visible again. We will be reflecting on the value of plurality in narratives. How important is the diversity of narratives, and of those who produce them or engage with them? How can this diversity be increased? What possibilities, and perhaps difficulties, does this plurality generate? Can there be too many narratives?

The initiators of this session are:

  • Petra Ardai is theatre-maker, moderator, lecturer and writer. She is the artistic director of the Amsterdam and Budapest based art collective SPACE. Petra has wide experience documentary theatre and immersive collaborative storytelling in various media. She produces interactive performances, multimedia installations, online art, living heritage apps and instant visionary fiction. She gives workshops and lectures. Petra is specialized in future scenario’s and builds imaginary worlds around the question: ‘Who owns the Future?’ She collaborates with cross-sector partners from the field of art, science and NGO’s.

  • Possible Futures Collective is an endeavor that aims to make visible the South’s stories and narratives of a history of colonisation and oppression, and formulate regenerative narratives relevant to in the South’s complex, diverse contexts and cultures.

Session 3, July 1st @ 6pm: How can New/Alternative Narratives Transform Reality?

When people call for “new/alternative narratives”, there is an assumption that these narratives have the power to make meaningful change more possible. Yet narratives can also be viewed as a way to escape reality, to avoid concrete action, or even to “spin” current reality in order to make it more palatable. Also, narratives seldom provide a clear, unambiguous path towards concrete action. So, what do alternative narratives have to do with action? Are there conditions under which narratives can make change easier, or harder?

Initiators of this session are:

  • Nonhuman Nonsense is a research-driven design and art studio creating near-future fabulations and experiments somewhere between utopia and dystopia. They seek to transmute our relationship to the non-human, by embracing the contradictory and the paradoxical – telling stories that open the public imaginary to futures that currently seem impossible. Nonhuman Nonsense work in the embryonic stages of system transformation, in the realm of social dreaming and world-making processes, aiming to redirect focus to the underlying ethical and political issues. Founded by Leo Fidjeland and Linnea Våglund, it is based between Berlin and Stockholm.

  • Nadia E.N, Cofounder Edgeryders & the Scifi Economics lab, an Engineer and designer with roots in Africa, Asia and Europe. She specialises in building platforms for citizen engagement and distributed collaboration. Nadia is leading development of the Science Fiction Economics Lab which nurtures and supports new, radical ways to think about the economy and economic policy.

Session 4: Topic TBD based on the content of the two first sessions

*These sessions are open to all.

Narratopias Agora #1: Why Are Narratives Important?

Narratopias Agora #1: Why Are Narratives Important?