The Bare Necessities: Histories of Provisioning from the Second World War to the Present

“The Bare Necessities: Histories of Provisioning from the Second World War to the Present” brings together a global set of case studies for a two-day workshop (Jun 7–8, 2018). By convening a diverse group of scholars, we aim to explore both historically and ethnographically the practices of planning for “the bare necessities” of life: water, food, shelter, heating and clean air. We invite papers that investigate moments of transition between different regimes of provisioning for basic needs, and the frictions, tensions, and contradictions that have accompanied these transitions historically. This workshop will highlight how these confrontations between different systems of provisioning are often moments of constitution, appropriation, and contestation of knowledge regimes, forms of rationality and visions of the future.

We invite contributions that critically engage with the concepts of “planning” and “scale” to investigate recent histories of provisioning, with a focus on how they impacted actors’ ways of seeing, knowing, and doing. We aim to understand how in various historical contexts after 1945, bureaucrats, scientists, academics, farmers, factory workers, and precarious categories of the population have shaped systems of provisioning through diverse forms of planning, and what happened when they were confronted with radical changes in these systems. This bottom-up, local level perspective, even in cases of specific notions of “basic needs”, is part and parcel of the unfolding of grand projects on the ground.

We welcome historical and ethnographic contributions traversing a range of mundane practices like urban residents taking up farming to address food shortages, denizens storing water during drought, marginalized communities recapturing waste flows for re-use, prison managers calculating food ratios, or scientists devising local fuel alternatives for cooking and heating. What kind of struggles emerge around defining what basic needs are? What politics of calculation and mechanisms of knowledge production have various actors employed to arrive at these definitions? How have natural disasters, economic crises or political instability rearticulated systems of provisioning and the knowledge regimes that support them? Papers may also consider what techno-scientific imaginaries are mobilized around the resources, infrastructures, and practices required to sustain the provisioning of basic needs.

Paper proposals—including a title, abstract (500 words max.), and a short CV (one page)—may be submitted via the online submission portal by February 28, 2018. Limited funding is available. Accepted contributions will be notified by mid-March 2018. Please direct research related inquiries to Alina-Sandra Cucu,

Keywords: Provisioning, Planning, Rationality, Knowledge Production, Basic Needs