The future is family

Caitlin Zaloom


Future visions energize growing enterprises, states, and families to act. Together, these entwined processes and their conflicts open unpredictable avenues for both profit-making and social transformation. This was a key insight of Aihwa Ong’s classic ethnography Spirits of resistance, which was published more than thirty years ago. In Spirits, Ong developed a feminist approach to political economy that begins with this dynamic. Today, anthropological studies place the category of the future at the heart of the discipline but have neglected family aspiration and experimentation as critical forces. Returning to Ong’s focus on relationships between parents and children is necessary to deepen insights about contemporary capitalism and to revitalize political economy.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/712037