UCL Anthropology


Cosmologies of destiny: One-day workshop on the ethnography of predestination, temporality & freedom

30 June 2015, 9:00 am


Event Information

Open to



Daryll Forde Seminar Room (14 Taviton Street) and South Wing G12 Council Room (Gower Street Main Building)

What does it mean to live a life that has already been written? How does one understand the past and prepare for the future when superior forces mingle with human agency? Distinctly from notions of fortune and coincidence, 'destiny' evokes conceptions of human lives and futures that are pre-determined: be it by high political powers, cosmic forces, or transcendental entities.

The question surrounding humans' capacity to act and affect change in a world where life and possibility are understood as being partially or wholly determined by external, often non-negotiable, powers has long been at the core of many theological and philosophical traditions, as well as informing different forms of divinatory and future-oriented practices. Yet, anthropology has often left the concept of destiny as the hazy background for its ethnographic and theoretical discussions.

With this workshop, we wish to position destiny at the heart of our anthropological thinking. Bringing together at UCL Anthropology academics and early career scholars working on ethnographic conceptions of 'destiny' in a variety of social and religious settings, we aim to start a fresh and collaborative discussion on the anthropological study of destiny and its salience in contemporary forms of political and intimate life.

All welcome!

The workshop is organised by Dr Alice Elliot & Dr Laura Menin (Milano-Bicocca), in collaboration with with the UCL Cosmology, Religion, Ontology & Culture (CROC) Reading & Research Group.

For info, please contact a.elliot@ucl.ac.uk