The RAI FILM FESTIVAL 2023 is hosting an online academic conference, 6-10 March 2023. Paper presentations will be delivered live and will be followed by a Q&A with the public.

Visual anthropology and speculative futures

We find ourselves in a moment in which it is difficult to imagine what the future holds. The war, the intensification of climate change and the pandemic have brought questions about the future in sharp relief for everyone. Of course, for those at the sharp end of history, the future has always been uncertain and an open challenge. In this increasingly uncertain present, questions about the place, temporality and role of visual/sensory/multimodal anthropology feel more pressing than ever. If, as Stuart Hall says, history is always unfinished business, then the future is always multiple and open to many possibilities. What is our part in revisiting histories and shaping possible futures? 

These are not new questions, and visual/sensory/multimodal anthropologists have been productively working with collaborative and multimodal modes, questioning authority and authorship, and creating an anthropology that engages multiple publics and is world-making. Afro- Indo- and Indigenous Futurisms, along with other related artistic and literary genres, have long engaged questions of temporality and futurity. These have been significant in shaping contemporary visual anthropologists’ practices and approaches and opened the future as something to be investigated, not as a remote possibility, but as an active agent in the production of now. 

In this conference we ask: 

What is the work that visual anthropology does with imaginings of diverse futures? 

How do we reckon with the power of the future in the present? 

How do we explore alternative futures through audio-visual-digital practice?  

How are these anticipatory practices remaking our worlds now?  

Panels consist of 15-minute papers (though convenors can alter this as long as everyone is given equal time). Roundtable sessions have shorter presentations and more time for discussion. Workshops are more interactive.

Conference Fees:

Prices are as follows:
£150 for Non-Fellows
£90 for RAI Fellows and Members
£45 for Concessions (students, unemployed (including Job Seekers Allowance and Universal Credit) and retired persons aged 65+)
£30 for Delegates with low income from Low Income countries (

Paying the conference fee will automatically give you access to the online film festival (3 – 31 March 2023) and to the in-person film festival (22 – 25 March 2023) which will be held in Bristol (UK).