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Digital technologies, dreams and disconcertment in anthropological world-making

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  • Karen Waltorp
In this article I explore dreaming and sharing of images in social media (such as Snapchat and Instagram), as future-making action. I propose to view them as techniques to research the future anthropologically. Through my 14-month fieldwork among young Muslim women in Copenhagen, it became apparent how in dreams, images are accessed that are understood to be signs for the future; and through digital technologies, images are shared and circulated in social media which work as tactics for impacting on the future.
I start from the most disconcerting event in my fieldwork – the kidnapping of the eight-year-old daughter of a close interlocutor - and analyze my interlocutor Amal’s tactics in trying to have her daughter returned to her by her former husband’s side of the family. Amal sought to create and disseminate images with relational and future-making power on various social media platforms: She sent out images of herself as a good Muslim woman and mother, and endured hardships, cultivating and enacting sabr (patience). Simultaneously she sought to ensure a specific future by contacting all the relevant legal authorities, which could potentially see her and her daughter reunited. Dreaming, lobbying with family members, and circulating images in social media were forms of action apparently more powerful than approaching the Danish authorities in Amal’s case.
Drawing on the concept of the ‘Imaginal realm’ (âlam al-mithal) (Corbin 1976), I demonstrate the ways in which concrete dream images and digitally circulated images inform (anticipations of) the future, and actions in the present.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnthropologies and Futures : Researching Emerging and Uncertain Worlds
EditorsJuan Salazar, Sarah Pink, Andrew Irving, Johannes Sjöberg
Number of pages16
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Publication year4 May 2017
ISBN (print)9781474264877
ISBN (Electronic)9781474264907
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2017

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