Hope and time work in dystopian contexts: Future-oriented temporalities of activism in post-referendum Scotland and Turkey

Birgan Gokmenoglu, Gabriela Manley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article examines the temporal underpinnings of hope as a key element of political action under dystopian circumstances. It is based on a comparative study of the authors? long-term ethnographic studies: First, an ethnography of the activists for national independence of the Scottish National Party following the 2016 Brexit referendum and second, the anti-authoritarian activists of the local ?no? assemblies in Istanbul around the 2017 constitutional referendum in Turkey. Approaching hope as a political resource of transformative action that is created for and within political struggles, this article finds that the generation and maintenance of hope require an agentic orientation to time and more specifically, to the future. It further shows how dystopian imaginations, when taken as critical evaluations of the present, may enable political action through opening up the indeterminate future to possibilities of political transformation. Drawing on and contributing to the scholarship on emotions, utopia and dystopia, and time, we argue that hope among activists against dystopian futures necessitates not only ?emotion work? but also ?time work?. Grounded in our empirical findings, we reconceptualize time work as the collective effort to shape orientations to the imagined past, lived present, and anticipated future, for and within political struggle. We thus conclude by expanding the concept of ?time work? to cover its particularly collective and explicitly political uses, offering two modes of time work: narratives of time and collective acts of hope. We believe that this expanded concept will be a useful analytical tool for scholars working on social movements, political action, time, and emotions.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalTime & Society
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 20 Sept 2023


    • emotions
    • time and temporality
    • utopia and dystopia
    • social movements
    • prefiguration
    • future
    • local assemblies
    • Brexit


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