Manuela Ciotti from the Faculty of Social Sciences receives award
The cultural and social anthropologist Manuela Ciotti has been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant. In the ANTHROFUTURE project, Ciotti is looking at the future of anthropology from the perspective of the art world, focusing geographically on the global South. The grant is endowed with around two and a half million euros. The programmes of the European Research Council (ERC) are intended to enable and advance basic-oriented pioneering research with high innovation potential.
“The University of Vienna’s recent success in obtaining ERC grants clearly demonstrates our international competitiveness and expertise in the social sciences”, says Rector Sebastian Schütze: “I warmly congratulate Manuela Ciotti on this particularly prestigious Advanced Grant”.
The anthropology of the future: An art world perspective
The future has been neglected as an object of anthropological study, even though our complex social, ecological and now, with COVID-19, biopolitical crises demand novel imaginations of the ‘yet-to-come’. Moreover, anthropologists have urged the decolonisation of existing studies of the future that are often based in the global north’s concerns.
The project ANTHROFUTURE shifts the focus of the anthropology of the future to the pandemic-induced acceleration of the future into the present. The project identifies the art world – historically featuring a high degree of experimentalism, a strong future-orientation, and, particularly in emerging markets in the global south, an openness to risk and speculation – as a crucial site for ground-breaking anthropological knowledge on the future. The pandemic forced the art world to quickly develop innovative digital solutions to replace physical events; the result is a new, fully integrated physical and digital system. While pre-pandemic scholarship on the art world largely focuses on institutions, professionals and activities as physical phenomena, there is no scholarship on this new digital-physical infrastructure.
This project further acknowledges the global south as the most vital site for modeling the future by situating its research in India and Pakistan as active and mutually entangled art world locations. ANTHROFUTURE introduces three novel modes of inquiry: 1) systematic research on the digital-physical art world as an ethnographic site for the study of the future; 2) innovative multimodal methodologies for studying the future that combine in-person, digital and visual ethnography, large-scale social media data harvesting, and artist subprojects; 3) analytical and theoretical advancements on the future as a time zone in comparative terms and across the regional contexts.
Manuela Ciotti is Professor of the Social and Cultural Anthropology of the Global South at the University of Vienna and a fellow at The Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS) in Amsterdam for 2023. Her key research interests consist of inequality, identity politics and modernity in struggles for social justice among subaltern communities in India and global south cultural production at a global scale. Drawing upon this research, she has produced a rich body of publications. Manuela leads the Sedimented Visions team at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology.