Models, scenarios, and buying the future: Or, what comics can teach us about life in the multiverse

Models, scenarios, and buying the future: Or, what comics can teach us about life in the multiverse

About the Lecture

We are living in a timeline defined by ‘the curve.’ The spread of Covid-19 has imposed radically new norms about physical distancing, social proximity, and economic interdependency. These are guided by the models and scenarios that make headline news daily. This talk considers the history of scenario modelling as a tool of finance – one that is especially adapted to harness (and profit from) the turbulence of environmental risk. A key aspect of this style of risk analysis involves imagining multiple potential worlds so as to engineer futures where profits continue to flow. Can comic books, where a multiworld model of reality is an ontological given, subvert the forms of accumulation made possible by calamity capitalism? Can the imaginative impulse of sequential art offer lessons for life in the multiverse? This talk will present a collaborative ethnoGRAPHIC comic book project about insurability, big data, and scenario modelling. We hope to spark a debate about who has the right to buy the future.

About the Speaker

Dr. Caroline E. Schuster is a Senior Lecturer and Australia Research Council DECRA Fellow in the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at the Australian National University. Her research in economic anthropology focuses on the socio-cultural dynamics of financial systems in Latin America. Her DECRA project centers on field research in San Pedro, Paraguay and examines development oriented “Microinsurance”:  agricultural index insurance for weather disasters and life insurance for beneficiaries of conditional cash transfers (CCTs). Dr. Schuster is also the Director of the Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies (ANCLAS).


If you are interested in attending the online seminar, please email us for the zoom link.



Date & time

Mon 04 May 2020, 3–4pm




Dr Caroline E. Schuster

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