Vanguard visions, sociotechnical imaginary and social imagination: A critical reflection on the political economy of the promise of the new biomedicine

Costa, J. C. P. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


The rise of signs of bioconvergence, that is, of association between bodies, technologies and digital media, has been understood by the champions of promise who lead the technoscientific and political vanguards as unmistakable signs of the materialization of the biotechnological revolution that had been announced at the end of the twentieth century. The acceleration of the production of new concepts and discursivities and innovative technologies that promise to radically transform our relationship with health professionals and institutions, and even with our bodies and subjectivities, observed especially after Barak Obama's 2015 speech on The Precision Medicine Initiative, however, promotes opposite projections about the future. Utopian visions fuelled by what Ernst Bloch would call the principle of hope and dystopian visions that point to a symptomatology of discrimination and exclusion of the neediest populations experiencing difficulties in accessing the “wonders” of technology appear side by side in the imagination of future healthcare and society itself.
Sheila Jasanoff identified three key issues that could interfere with the co-production of futures in the context of the political economy of promise: the predominance of private organizations in the articulation and propagation of the imaginary; the existence of tensions over the definition of desirable futures; and the quality of the imaginary as translators of a society's understanding of good and evil. This essay reflects on the implications of the political economy of the promise of the new biomedicine in the production of the imagined futures by analysing these three issues through a cosmopolitical approach, after Isabelle Stengers' famous proposal, that is, starting from the question of “what are we doing?”.
Period28 Jul 202031 Jul 2020
Event title6º Congreso Internacional de Antropologia AIBR: Humanidades en emergencia: Salud y reconstrucción social
Event typeConference
Conference number6
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • political economy of promise
  • vanguard visions
  • sociotechnical imaginary
  • hope