The future as a cultural commons: Grammars of commonality in crisis-ridden Wilhelmsburg (upcoming)

This paper analyzes how vulnerable residents ‘common’ the future. Plagued by industrial pollution, infrastructural decay, and systemic poverty, residents of the Hamburg quarter of Wilhelmsburg united themselves in the 2000s through an organization called Future Wilhelmsburg (Zukunft Elbinsel Wilhelmsburg e.V.). Their goal: to get out of crisis by ‘commoning’ Wilhelmsburg’s future. How is it that these activists managed to turn the ‘not yet’ into a meaningful matter of common concern? Laurent Thévenot’s ‘pragmatic sociology’ allows us to answer such a question. The paper highlights how ‘justificatory grammar’, ‘liberal grammar’, and ‘affective grammar’ permeate Future Wilhelmsburg’s everyday struggle to open up the future to collective imagination.