Dispositifs of green futures: certainty and tactics in baselining environments

  • Ingmar Lippert (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesLecture and oral contribution


Green futures may be conceptually addressed as a relational effect of material and semiotic practices or processes. Futures, in this respect, may refer either to claims in the present about the future or, within a linear time ontology, to whatever happens after the present. I wonder how green futures are prefigured in baseline accounts in environmental monitoring and assessment infrastructures. The Foucauldian notion of the dispositif sensitises me to explore both the simultanenously semiotic and material problematisation and configuration in such environmental accountability infrastructures.

In a first part, I retrace some of the broader discursive shifts and characteristics in environmental and sustainable development policy and political economy. This involves (a) critically (re)visiting the imagined futures of sustainable development, two to three decades ago, and questioning sustainable development’s prefiguring of futures; and (b) exploring shared fragments in recent discursive dynamics, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ecosystem services and natural capital, green infrastructures and capitalist acceleration. This first part concludes in terms of the requirements for knowing presences and pasts, environmental baselines, in the latter green future-making lines of discourse.

In a second part, I turn to participant observation and informal interview-based engagement with agents who are tasked to account for the greenness of recent pasts to ground claims about the greenness of futures both in the present as well as in an imagined future. I analyse (a) mundane environmental data practices in such accountability work as well as (b) tactical and reflexive engagement by these practitioners of environmental accounting, monitoring and assessment. This second part explores the dispositifs of green futures through the material semiotics of post-actor network theory and the feminist engagement with figures and configurings by Lucy Suchman to reconstruct the figures in environmental accounts.

Linking both parts, I employ Geof Bowker’s work on dispositifs that configure an ideology of the eternal present to explore the temporality configured in the infrastructures of environmental accounting, attempting a deconstruction of green futures’ environmental baselining.
Period24 Nov 2017
Event typeWorkshop
LocationPoznan, PolandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Foucault
  • baseline
  • accounting
  • environment
  • Science and Technology Studies