Flying Cars and Bigots: Projecting the Post-Covid World Through the Atlas of the Civic Imagination

Henry Jenkins (University of Southern California)

7 June 2021, 04:00pm (GMT +01:00)



Launched in April 2020, the Atlas of the Civic Imagination offered a space where people could share their hopes and anxieties about what life would look like on the other side of the pandemic. Having already run more than 60 face-to-face workshops where communities built worlds, remixed inspiring stories, and otherwise sought to identify shared values and aspirations, we knew that many often had to posit some kind of dramatic upheaval or catastrophe to imagine alternatives to current institutions and practices. We wanted to understand whether an actual pandemic offered this kind of starting point from which people might imagine the world otherwise. We received 204 submissions collected from people across five continents: North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. The project presented participants with a blank canvas and asked them to imagine what kind of future they wanted to see emerge from the current crisis. Even with the invitation to imagine a better world, many stories constructed a dark future, one that reflected a fearful response to the world outside their windows. The submissions often reflected uncertainties, ambivalences, contradictions, and paradoxes about the ways that everyday people think about their futures. This talk shares some of the global voices and perspectives we heard as they address concerns about technology, the environment, the new world order, and the importance of human connection.  What we see here are the potentials for new kinds of post-pandemic citizenship.

Bio note

Henry Jenkins, University of Southern California (USA) | Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism, Cinematic Arts and Education at the University of Southern California and the founder and former co-director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program. He has been a dedicated advocate for media literacy education, recently receiving the Jesse McKanse award for his life-time contribution to this field, including the publication of Confronting the Challenges of a Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century which helped to launch the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative. Subsequent work here included Reading in a Participatory Culture and Participatory Culture in a Networked Society. His other work on children and media includes The Children’s Culture Reader and From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games. He is currently writing a book which examines children’s media of the 1950s and 1960s in light of shifting understandings of childhood in Post-War American culture. His most recent books include Participatory Culture: InterviewsPopular Culture and the Civic Imagination: Case Studies of Creative Social Change and Comics and Stuff.

Keynote address within the CES Summer School Rekindling civic imagination for social change


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Meeting ID: 829 0247 9419 | Passcode: 153681

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