Speculative Research Day & Book Launch

To celebrate the recent publication of Speculative Research: The Lure of Possible Futures (Routledge, edited by Alex Wilkie, Martin Savransky, and Marsha Rosengarten), this event co-organised by The Unit of Play and the Centre for Invention and Social Process will bring many of the authors in the collection as well as other international scholars together for a day-long, experimental summer school. Throughout the day we will collectively explore the challenges and potentialities of speculative thought and practice through a series of hands-on experimental workshops, situated reflections, and roundtable discussions.

Research Students and ECRs from all disciplines are especially encouraged to attend. The event is free and everyone is welcome. Registration is required (due to limited capacity). Please register here.



10.00-10.30am Welcome and Introductions

Location: RHB150


10.30am-12.30pm Speculative Techniques & Propositions

With: Michael Guggenheim (Sociology) and Alex Wilkie (Design)
Inspired by various contributions in the book on ‘speculative techniques’, in this session we open up speculation and speculative thought as an experimental and collaborative activity. We invite participants to present their work as speculative propositions to be collectively explored in small interdisciplinary groups. Session participants will give a short introduction to their projects and then participants will be invited to engage in the collective exploration and reworking of the possibility of the project as a speculative proposition(s) involving speculative techniques.

[Note: While this is not a requirement, if you think you are working on a speculative project and would like to submit it to collective speculation, or if you would like to make available your project for collective speculative experimentation, please submit a short 100-word description of your project or 2 slides/pages of pdf until Friday May 19th with the subject “SPECULATIVE TECHNIQUES” to a.wilkie@gold.ac.uk and m.guggenheim@gold.ac.uk]


12.30-2.00pm Lunch


2.00-3.30pm Lures for Speculative Thought

With: Monica Greco (Sociology), Marsha Rosengarten (Sociology), Michael Schillmeier (Sociology, Exeter). Chair: Alex Wilkie (Design)
The aim of this session will be to put to the test the lure or proposition of becoming responsive to the emergent demands that make a research encounter. To do so, we will reflect on what might constitute a speculative research approach while bearing in mind the conventional constraints of research practice: namely, the need to identify in advance ‘the problem,’ a research question, and a set of methods. We will ask: in what manner, if at all, might the usual presuppositions of research and their accompanying practices be turned to a care for unforetold possibilities? Possibilities that might, at least initially, seem at risk of foreclosure by the imposition of the usual research repertoire. As may be expected of any research, our test will be applied to situated and thus concrete examples.

3.30-4.00pm Refreshments Break


4.00-5.30pm The Politics of Speculative Thought

With: Vikki Bell (Sociology), Michael Halewood (Sociology, Essex), and Martin Savransky (Sociology). Chair: Marsha Rosengarten (Sociology)
What difference might the speculative make, not just to how we think about and practise social and cultural research, but to how we learn to relate to the many others that compose the presents and futures in which we live, for which we think, do and feel? This roundtable session will explore the implications of some of the themes and issues posed by speculative research as they connect with broader, pressing questions of politics, ethics, and aesthetics. By returning to some of the philosophical sources that provide inspiration for the development of more practical and empirical forms of speculative research, we hope to start a collective conversation (with speakers and all participants) about the relation between speculation and the art of life: that is, the political, ethical, and aesthetic task to live, to live well, to live better.

6.00pm Speculative Research Book Launch

Laurie Grove Baths Council Room
With comments by Andrew Barry (Geography, UCL) and Nicholas Gaskill (English, Rutgers)
All participants are invited to celebrate the launch of the book in a more informal, social setting. Refreshments will be provided, and we hope to have copies of the book available for purchase there too!