Speculate This!

Speculate This!

Book Pages: 115 Illustrations: 25 illustrations Published: June 2013

Activism, Cultural Studies, Sociology > Social Theory

Speculate This! is a concise, provocative manifesto advocating practices of "affirmative speculation" over and against contemporary forms of speculation that quantify and contain risk to generate financial profit for a privileged few. This latter mode of speculation is predatory and familiar, its fallout evident in ongoing environmental degradation, in restrictive legal claims on natural resources in distant lands, and in the foreclosures, evictions, and unemployment resulting from the financial collapse of 2007–08. While such exploitive speculation seeks to reduce uncertainty and pin down the future, the affirmative practices championed by the authors of Speculate This! engage uncertainty, contingency, and difference, and they multiply, rather than reduce, possible futures. In these affirmative practices, social relations and the creation of goods and knowledge are not driven by the desire for financial gain or professional status. Whether manifest in open-source software, eco-communes, global activist movements, community credit networks, or experimental art, speculative living affirms our commonality. As a collaborative work coauthored by a group of anonymous scholars, Speculate This! argues for and embodies affirmative speculation.


Speculate This! offers a much-needed avenue for the politically urgent critique of speculation that avoids the trap of conservatism. It is erudite and rich in examples.” — Marieke de Goede, Radical Philosophy

"Speculate This! is a conceptually innovative project that challenges conventional academic discourse by its anonymous group authorship; it seeks to respond to the irresponsible speculations of the contemporary moment with 'affirmative speculation' about everything from the economy to the survival of the planet."
— Priscilla Wald, author of Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative


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The uncertain commons is a group of scholars, mediaphiles, and activists who explore the possibilities of collaborative intellectual labor. They remain anonymous as a challenge to the current norms of evaluating, commodifying, and institutionalizing intellectual labor. Members of the group represent a diverse set of nationalities, backgrounds, and institutional affiliations, and they participate in a range of disciplines, including cultural studies, English, media studies, philosophy, Middle Eastern studies, and South Asian studies.

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eISBN: 978-0-8223-7693-4
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