RE-CONCEPTUALISING FORESIGHT AND ITS IMPACT: Experiences in Decolonising Futures from the Global South


Special issue title:


Experiences in Decolonising Futures from the Global South

Guest Editors:

Geci Karuri-Sebina, University of Witwatersrand

Riel Miller, UNESCO 

Kwamou Eva Feukeu, UNESCO and University of Lancaster


Closing date (abstracts): 30 June 2021 (notification: 25 July)

Submission portal opens: 1 July 2021

Author submission deadline: 30 October 2021


Following the codesign of the Capacity to Decolonize (C2D) - an audacious action research programme based upon an innovative articulation of decolonial studies and futures studies - this Special Issue project aims to expand the dissemination of futures literacy as a basis for re-examining and restructuring both disciplines. This cutting-edge issue on Futures Literacy not only aims to suggest expanding our understanding of anticipation by reinforcing the importance of context and authenticity. This also requires a renewal or adoption of mechanisms used to reveal anticipatory systems and processes we mobilize in our daily lives.

Futures studies have historically emerged in response to specific socio-economic needs: preparation, planning and production of predictive data (Son, 2015; Andersson, 2018; Miller, Feukeu, and Raleigh, 2021). This approach has been massively adopted in the South, especially with UNDP’s support to the advancement of the field in Africa and the global South in the 1990s (Sall, 2003). Postcolonial, subaltern, and decolonial critiques, including readings from the Oppressed, have, however, challenged the lenses used to describe future options (“development”) and respond to the urgency of the present (Fanon, 1952; Césaire, 1956; Freire, 1972; Gayatri, 1988; Rivera Cusicanqui, 2020; Thiong’o, 1986; Mbembe, 2000; Lugones, 2008; Tlotsanova & Mignolo, 2015; Sarr, 2016; Kisukidi, 2020).

Over the years, and in parallel, a critical interest in the field of anticipation has emerged beyond the development of methods of futures study and foresight, to focus on more fundamental enquiry about the nature and use of anticipation (Facer, 2013; Miller, 2015; UNESCO, 2018; Poli & al, 2019). The objective is to create, challenge knowledge, and connect with all disciplines which invest (in) and engage futures, from anthropology to STEM, through to law, natural resources, ethics, or business administration.

The work of the C2D project included new research to draw these two lines of new knowledge framing into a working paper which forms the core of this Special Issue. The Special Issue’s objective is to draw “situated knowledges”(Haraway 2016) in additional theoretical and case-based scholarship, that is similarly focusing on decolonising futures with a focus on the global south. The lens on the global South is motivated on the basis that the emerging theorisation on futures literacy has continued to be dominated by the global North, while the global South has articulated for centuries important and unique perspectives to share with the world to present alternative praxis and advance action research for decolonial theory and futures studies (Sium, Desai & Ritskes, 2012; Mignolo & Walsh, 2018; Sriprakash & al, 2021; de Sousa Santos, 2014/2016).

The southern focus is also important because authentic anticipatory systems highlight context as a determining factor. This is as relevant in the global South - which some consider to be the post-colonial contexts - just as much as in the global North where tomorrow has been prone to the colonisation of today’s ideas of the future (Sardar, 1993; Appadurai, 2013; Miller, 2015; Feukeu, 2021). In short, foresight impact would lie in the inclusion of the margins to collectively build and systemically renegotiate the shape and content of pluriversal futures (Feukeu, Ajilore & Bourgeois, 2021; Paradies, 2020). What does it mean for futures to lead the Senyan road to freedom (Miller, 2015; Sen, 1999/2003)? Could it be something along the lines of the quest for ‘resurgence’ (Simpson, 2016) and the struggle against ‘double consciousness’ (duBois, 1903/2007)?

Description of the Special Issue

  • We are interested in case-based or conceptual papers, linked to the theoretical debates on anticipation and futuring; this idea of “decolonising the future”. The focus is on authors and applications from or in the global south.
  • Format: We are open to include contributions whose format extends beyond traditional articles, which could include e.g. videos or multi-media presentations.
  • Language: The journal is typically in English, however for this Special Issue we are inviting contributions in any language that will be translated and published in English.
  • Enquiry themes: we are interested in anticipation practices and experiences that explore or conceptualise in new or creative ways:
    • Locating the study of futures in decolonial literature: what would it mean to find, build and recognise more authentic anticipatory systems? To own our images of the future as liberated communities?
    • Rethinking the subject matter of futures studies: epistemology, axiology and teleology of the study of futures, classification of anticipatory assumptions.
    • Proposing conceptual frameworks in light of these debates for topics such as, and not limited to, participatory anticipatory action research processes, empowerment, gender theory, post-activism, complexity-friendly metrics, etc.

Submission Information

  • The Guest Editors welcome papers for consideration from academics, researchers, practitioners, artists, thinkers, etc., subject to peer review for quality and value
  • Authors interested in publishing in the Special Issue should first submit a 500-word Abstract by 30 June 2021 to [email protected]. .
  • Submission of papers will be done through the journal online submission system. Authors should follow the Instructions for Authors found on the Journal homepage.
  • Any enquiries can also be directed to the Special Issue contact, [email protected].
  • This journal process involves double-blind peer reviews per paper.
  • Please note that all submissions are not guaranteed publication and will be subject to foresight Journal’s normal rigorous peer review process.
  • Submissions are made through the ScholarOne submission system


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Appadurai A. 2013. Future as Cultural Fact : Essays on the Global Condition. New York : Verso.

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Facer K. 2013. The problem of the future and the possibilities of the present in education research, International Journal of Educational Research, 61: 135-143.

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Spivak G. 1988. ‘Can Subalterns Speak?’ in: Cary Nelson/Lawrence Grossberg (Hg.): Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, University of Illinois Press: Urbana, 271–313.

Sriprakash A., Nally D., Myers K., and Ramos‐Pinto P. 2021. Learning with the Past: Racism, Education and Reparative Futures. Paper commissioned for the UNESCO Futures of Education report, forthcoming.

Thiong’o N. 1986. Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in Africa Literature. London: Heinemann Educational.

Tlostanova MV and Mignolo W. 2012. Learning to Unlearn: Decolonial Reflections from Eurasia and the Americas. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University Press.

Sall A. 2003. ‘Africa 2025: What possible futures for sub-Saharan Africa?’. Paper for UNDP/African Futures. Pretoria: Unisa Press.

Sen A. 1999. Development as Freedom. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Son H. 2015. The history of Western futures studies: An exploration of the intellectual traditions and three-phase periodization. Futures, 66: 120–137.

UNESCO. 2018. Transforming the Future: Anticipation in the 21st Century. London, Routledge.