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Volume 33

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Back to the Postindustrial Future

An Ethnography of Germany's Fastest-Shrinking City

Felix Ringel

238 pages, 16 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-798-7 $120.00/£85.00 Hb Not Yet Published (March 2018)

eISBN 978-1-78533-799-4 eBook Not Yet Published

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“Accessible and stimulating… There is little that I know of in our current literature that describes a present-moment European urban community in this ethnographic detail.” · Jane Guyer, Johns Hopkins University


How does an urban community come to terms with the loss of its future? The former socialist model city of Hoyerswerda is an extreme case of a declining postindustrial city. Built to serve the GDR coal industry, it lost over half its population to outmigration after German reunification and the coal industry crisis, leading to the large-scale deconstruction of its cityscape. This book tells the story of its inhabitants, now forced to reconsider their futures. Building on recent theoretical work, it advances a new anthropological approach to time, allowing us to investigate the postindustrial era and the futures it has supposedly lost.

Felix Ringel is a COFUND International Research Fellow in the Anthropology Department at Durham University. His work on time, the future, and urban regeneration has been published in leading journals such as The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Critique of Anthropology and Anthropological Theory. He is co-editor of The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology’s issue on “Time-tricking: Reconsidering Temporal Agency in Troubled Times.”

Subject: General Anthropology Urban Studies
Area: Germany


List of Illustrations
Notes on Translations
List of Abbreviations

Introduction: Anthropology and the Future: Notes from a Shrinking Fieldsite

Chapter 1. ‘There Can Only Be One Narrative’: Postsocialism, Shrinkage and the Politics of Context in Hoyerswerda
Chapter 2. Reasoning about the Past: Temporal Complexity in a City with No Future
Chapter 3. ‘Hoyerswerda...?’ – ‘...Once Had a Future!’: Temporal Flexibility and the Politics of the Future
Chapter 4. Enforced Futurism/Prescribed Hopes: Affective Politics and Pedagogies of the Future
Chapter 5. Performing the Future: Endurance, Maintenance and Self-Formation in Times of Shrinkage

Conclusion: Coming to Terms with the Future/‘Zukunftsbewältigung’


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