welcome to the world of


A Breath

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Close your eyes.

Think of a moment when you experienced the feeling of oppression possibly coming to an end. That feeling that maybe there would be change on the horizon, that possibly, even for a second, that liberation was coming. Maybe this was during a protest? Maybe the overthrow of a fascist leader? Maybe even just finding a moment of rest in a difficult situation?

For us, we felt moments of liberation during unique moments which occurred in our respective countries: the Lebanese thawra, the Strajk Kobiet Protests in Poland, and the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States. In these moments, we each felt that the foundation of various systems of oppression in our lives were shaken up, and made visible. We felt that a liberated future was on the horizon. 

Now, think about your memory. Find that feeling again within yourself.

Take a few minutes.

Play the audio file on the side. Write a poem about this moment in your memory for as long as the song plays. It doesn’t have to be complex, just try to name the until-now-nameless, as Audre Lorde would say, feeling you felt. 

Underline a line from your poem and imagine a new reality that uses this line as its core. What would everyday life look like in this world?

Imagine an object that would exist in this world that doesn’t exist in ours yet. Now create a name for it that doesn’t exist in your language yet

Close your eyes.

Think of a moment when you experienced the feeling of oppression possibly coming to an end. The feeling that maybe there would be change on the horizon, that possibly, even for a second, liberation was coming. Maybe this was during a protest? Maybe the overthrow of a fascist leader? Maybe even just finding a moment of rest in a difficult situation? For us, these feelings of liberation were experienced during moments of intensity in each of our respective countries: the Lebanese thawra, Strajk Kobiet in Poland, and the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States. In these moments, we felt that the foundation of various systems of oppression in our lives were shaken, and made visible. We felt a liberated future on the horizon.

Now, think about your own memory of feeling that way. Find that feeling again within yourself.

Take a few minutes. Play the audio file on the side. Write a poem about this moment in your memory for the duration of the song. It doesn’t have to be complex, just try, as Audre Lorde would say, to name the nameless and formless feeling you felt.

Circle a line from your poem and imagine a new reality that uses this line as its core. What would everyday life look like in this world?

Imagine an object that would exist in this world. One that doesn’t yet exist in ours.

Now create a name for it that doesn’t yet exist in your language.

Welcome to faraoyść.

This is

This is Far


Creation of Faraoyść

Faraoyść (faw-row-she-tchi) is a portmanteau neologism, that describes the moment when oppression appears to be coming to an end and a liberated world feels within reach.

We created it in the aftermath of sustained upheaval in our home countries that we each experienced directly. Then came the presidential elections in the United States. We felt an emotion that was tinged with potential, hope, liberation, and the possibility of alternative futures when Joseph R. Biden secured the necessary number of electoral college votes and celebrations poured out into the streets of New York City.

In trying to articulate this feeling, we realized that none of our three languages had a word to encapsulate and express the specific feelings we had each felt. It was only by combining the words // Arabic: farah, English: joy, Polish: radoścć // that we were able to name this emotion: Faraoyść.

Faraoyść as Praxis

Faraoyść is not just an emotion, but also a form of praxis. If we want to create the objects, language, and communities necessary to change our world, we need to imagine alternativeworlds. These worlds must start from a place of liberated joy.

There is analogous work being done in other imagination-driven spaces hinged upon asking people to imagine futures without: without war (Fiala and Boulding, 1988), without inequity (Kahane, 2012), and without current cultural myths and metaphors (Miller, 2018, Inayatullah, 1998).

We wanted to see what would happen when asked to imagine alternatives with. What if we imagined while centering ourselves within faraoyść? This was partially constructed according to Barbara Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build theory of positive affect and emotion.

certain discrete positive emotions - including joy… have the ability to broaden people's momentary thought-action repertoires and build their enduring personal resources, ranging from physical and intellectual resources to social and psychological resources...Joy, for instance, broadens by creating the urge to play, push the limits, and be creative.  (Frederickson, 2001)



Faraoyść is characterised by a pluriversal, queer ephemerality and unknown duration, similar to Muñoz’s shifting horizons of queer futurity, in that we have never been liberated, and much like queerness.

[it] exists for us as an ideality that can be distilled from the past and used to imagine a future…[it] is a structuring and educated mode of desiring that allows us to see and feel beyond the quagmire of the present...Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now, and an insistence on potentiality or concrete possibility for another world (Muñoz, 2009)

The practice of faraoyść prolongs itself; it takes attention and care - not only to hold on to these moments of joy and hope in the face of oppression - but it also reshapes how systems and structures might look during the process of (re)building. It is neither oppositional, nor does it offer a new singular way of being; faraoyść is aligned with how Walter Mignolo frames decolonization.

...not as a new universal that presents itself as the right one that supersedes all the previous and existing ones, but as an option. [It]...opens up a way of thinking that delinks from the chronologies of new epistemes or new paradigms (Mignolo, 2011)


The Object as Material

“So what I tried to do since last time, by the way, I tried to use all of these objects, like the thought objects or imaginative objects as metaphors. So let's say you cut them [politicians] out with the chainsaw. So actually you vote them out which is a possibility. Let's say you want the USBD for common history. You just have to write the history book and then we're fine.”
- wara 3nab - Imagining 3alam Badil participant

When invoked in rite, the object/event is ‘present;’ that is, ‘enacted,’ it is both a physical thing and the power that enfuses it...It is dedicated to the validation of humans; that is, it makes people hopeful, happy, secure, and it can have negative effects as well, which propel one towards a search for validation (Anzaldúa, 1987).

Objects are a discursive material manifestation of culture that can otherwise be difficult to articulate, especially when dealing with objects that do not currently exist.

“...[goes] beyond stimulating discourse about speculation, towards developing means to act amidst it... it is necessary to establish a ‘perceptual bridge’ between audience and fiction through actual, functioning artifacts, occupying space in the actual everyday world” (Elsden et al.; 2017, Auger, 2013)

Our research process explored how participants could imagine alternative worlds through the practice of faraoyść using methods such as renaming, language generation, funk music, and recalling memories through dynamic mediums such as poetry and culturally-situated storytelling.

The bulk of our research was conducted through conversations with scholars, artists, activists, and practitioners within the Futures Literacy Network, as well as through two workshops:  Faraoyść: Imagining Futures Built on Joy and Imagining 3alam Badil (Eng: Alternative Worlds).

Our research facilitated the creation of imagined worlds that participants presented outside of their present-day realities, which were materialized through speculative objects and neologisms. This materialization, in turn, made these alternative worlds, and the strategies and pathways necessary to create them, clearer and more tangible. The role of speculative objects was important as we developed our process because it took concepts out of the realm of the abstract, and into the world of the concrete. When people can see an idea materialized, they can place themselves within the world of the object, which:



Go back to your notes from earlier.

What in that alternative world are you taking for granted, or considering “natural” or obvious? How does time work in this alternative world? What about education, or knowledge-seeking? Is there money?

These are your situated imaginations.

“[Having people] actually see that metaphor, and see the possibilities of changing, transforming that metaphor for other, more imaginative metaphors that sometimes I find in our society...the saying was, wherever you tie a cow, that's where it will feed... the idea is that, wherever somebody is, that's where you have to make a living....if you have a job, like a bureaucratic job, then you're supposed to do anything to survive... they're complaining about corruption, about all these things, and they're still using this metaphor’
(Kamara, 2021)

“And for me, this is the essential part of why I enjoyed this exercise is the potential of getting out of this traditional way of thinking for change. I was limited to comparative ways of traditional ways, even if I named them something else. But I was limited to the reality of what I know.”

- Imagining 3alam badil participant

"we are in an imagination battle. Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown and Renisha McBride and so many others are dead because, in some white imagination, they were dangers...Imagination gives us borders, gives us superiority, gives us race as an indicator of capability. I often feel I am trapped inside someone else's imagination, and I must engage my own imagination in order to break free"
- adrienne maree brown.

An analogous terms for this concept exists in Futures Literacy theory under the name Anticipatory Assumptions - although this is typically targeted towards futuring as opposed to Situated Imaginations’ collapsed temporality that elides notions of past(s), present(s), and futures(s) into a singular moment of coexistence

These frameworks are based on individual’s (human and non-human) situated cultures, stories, identities, extrastatecraft, and social norms that make up the architecture of one’s imagination. These are our situated imaginings. This is an adaptation of Donna Haraway’s situated knowledges showing that the individual’s search and comprehension of knowledge is always local, filtered, and partial; there is no perfectly complete or universal knowledge in the same way that there is no perfectly complete or universal subject (Haraway, 1988). If knowledge-seeking is one face of a many sided die, then imagination is another. Situated imaginings acknowledge that the action of imagining is also local, filtered, and partial. It is impossible to suggest that there is a universal imaginary that can encapsulate the entirety of humanity, to say nothing of the planet and its infinite ecosystems. This is a step beyond bias. If we picture situated imaginings like a scaffolding, bias is one stone in the foundation. When we imagine, we do so from our own constrained contexts, and this determines what and how we imagine.

The boundaries of our situated imaginings are like borders of a map. Those borders are constructed by our sociopolitical and sociocultural relationships and interactions, which can be determined by external forces. This was the case for participants of our Imagining 3alam Badil workshop. It was the realization that their imaginations had been constrained that inspired them to create what in Futures Literacy theory is called anticipation-for-emergence (AfE).

While we reject a normative interpretation of situated imagings, or a good/bad duality, it is imperative that we acknowledge that many of these borders have been drawn within a colonial power framework that has been the dominant worldview for the past 500 years. The epistemological and ontological systems of thought, knowledge, and indeed imagination have all been filtered through colonial ways of being and knowing that have resulted in what the Capacity to Decolonize Initiative calls “captive imaginations” (Karuri-Sebina, G., et. al, 2020).  An important part of our politic is the acknowledgement that everyone has been shaped by colonized thinking and imagining - including colonizers themselves - and those constraints have hampered our ability to think of alternatives to our present day realities, which are in crisis.

Because faraoyść exists at the moment when such oppressive systems are shaken - and therefore made visible  - and liberation can be glimpsed, situated imaginings are also scrutinized in that moment. By asking participants to deliberately evoke memories of faraoyść, the boundaries of the situated imaginings are pushed, questioned, and ultimately redrawn by the participants themselves, not by external forces.

“The proposition is that imagining AfE futures makes it easier for people to: invent new words; sense and make-sense of the novel; imagine the potential for the persistence of changes that are always initially locally unique and seemingly ephemeral; and pose questions that are new because they can detect and invent phenomena that make up the emergent present, including new paradigms." (Miller, 2008)

Note: In this way, SI collapses temporality that elides notions of past(s), present(s), and futures(s) into a singular moment of coexistence.

“People are aware that they cannot continue in the same old way but are immobilized because they cannot imagine an alternative”
- Grace Lee Boggs.

For them as for me, imagining is not merely looking or looking at; nor is it taking oneself intact into the other. It is, for the purposes of the work, becoming
- Toni Morrison



Our first workshop: Faraoyść: Imagining Futures Built on Joy, was created with the simple intention of testing if evoking faraoyść would put participants in a positive generative space to imagine any kind of future, and what those future worlds might look like. It was originally created within the context of the UNESCO Futures Literacy Summit, and explicitly engaged with the language of “futures”, as opposed to our later framing of “alternative” in later workshops.

We employed a variety of efforts to evoke faraoyść, all stemming from the idea of “avra kehdavra”, an Aramehic phrase meaning “I create as I speak”.

The action of naming and language generation was particularly important in this workshop in prompting participants to question the language already available  through their situated knowledges and to ideate beyond the boundaries of their situated imaginations.  

We asked participants to change their names.

Many of the new names were food-related: “mango”, “tomato”, “double cheeseburger”, “pączusie”, the word “food” itself; others were sensorial: “blubber”, “crisp air”, and “rain”. The action of renaming created a small moment of levity that helped set the tone for the workshop, removed institutional affiliations which aided in dismantling hierarchies, and preserved anonymity.

We sparked memory recall through the use of poetry because it is, “it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are, until the poem, nameless and formless-about to be birthed, but already felt” (Lorde, 1984).

The poems were later used during the futures-building sessions as a base to build visions of alternative worlds together:

"This is when surfers and seals love the same things. It looks like this….[video glitch skfzskz, sound of bubbles underwater, water, blub blub blub] multiple voices saying "beluvial, beluvial, beluvial", [sounds of being underwater, water crashing & glitch, the ocean] And you'll send me home with one more than I needed to witness the joy [sound of water]"

"waking up to the rising sun, spreading the light across the perfect lines. So cheerful, so carefree, so full of life. My childhood was a combination of explorations, which included digging the earth, fishing for the worms, everything about life color, the earth, and its beauty fascinated me" (FUTURE-7)

"finding my secret garden in the library, the tree, a container of daydreams. Mud and sweat, a wagon, a snack, you make coffee, we’ll dance tonight" (FUTURE-8)

In small groups, participants were asked to create a new word that encapsulated their futures in some way. This was a translinguistic exercise intended to build relationality. Translingualism is emergent in that it, “looks at verbal resources as interacting synergistically to generate new grammars and meanings, beyond their separate structures” (Canagarajah, 2017).

The creation of faraoyść as a translinguistic neologism allowed each of us to ‘belong’ to faraoyść in a way that was impossible by remaining in one language. Participants formed translinguistic relational connections of belonging to each other by co-creating new words. Many of the words created were portmanteaus, a choice that may have been influenced by the example provided - Faraoyść is itself a portmanteau, or because a portmanteau is an example of languages collaborating in action.  

“So there would be Bio-Balancers who are assuring that the ecosystem is in equilibrium, there will be Attuners who are diving deeper and deeper into ways of communicating despite language barriers with the Parliament of Nature...” (FUTURE - 2)

“Our word is Flolam. Which is the combination of the flow, following the flow, and Salaam in Arabic, peace. And we would like these are the core values of our future we want because when you follow the flow, you can go up and down, but you're in the flow and whatever happens, you're there, and you're always at peace” (FUTURE-8)

“The future we decided on is one in which we're no longer counting the years. And the word that we came up with is swivejam. And it represents, kind of when you don't measure time anymore, and time is no longer transactional.” (FUTURE - 5)

"...Treasure-chesture. So we were thinking of joy, joy, as resiliency. And one thing we thought about, that we discussed was the idea of a treasure chest at the bottom of the ocean...But the treasure chest isn't perfect, like any community that contains the joy...If too much [water] came in, it would degrade it, but just a few holes seeping through waters allowing that to kind of transform into something new, something more powerful...And we started thinking about the world in which this is possible, the structures, you know, thinking of the buildings with these permeable membranes, where there's still spaces for an individual to remain content in their own being, while sharing goods, resources, services, in agriculture, cooking, child rearing. And, you know, and anything else I'm missing, but that's a lot of what we're thinking, how do you share and shed and be at the same time...Anything to add Unicorn?" (FUTURE-9)

- Transcripts of neologisms and futures from Faraoysc: Imagining Futures Built on Joy workshop

The workshop ended with a conversation about the worlds that they had created and the common themes that emerged.  Dominant themes included: abundance, Being-With, a desire to reconnect with Nature, anti-technological future sentimentalism, and finally self-organized societies.

Our interpretation of these themes emerged both from the acute challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and from larger systemic oppression. The worlds our participants constructed were reactions against dominant narratives of scarcity, techno-futurism, capitalism, and a separation from Nature and each other.


A Meditation on I's and We's

An eye for an eye, that's what they said.
But what if we looked for a We instead.
Somehow through an I, a community expands
Then it's a We, for an I, and that I takes a stand

We’s seperate and reveal multiple I’s
Then I’s look for I’s that have the same sight
Through those links then form several We ‘s
That create our societies our roots and sets Eyes free

Whenever you feel like an I, short sighted
Remember that there’s an eye, for an I that’s isolated
Out there somewhere you’ll feel like you’ll belong
To a community of You’s that’s been waiting all along
- Nour Abou Jaoude

The Faraoysc: Imagining Futures from Joy was also the first time we identified a state-of-being we have named: “emotiontas”. Emotiontas is created when an individual’s situated imaginations are expanded in community with others. In the creation of emotiontas, the boundaries around the individual - the “I” - are collapsed, negotiated, and ultimately re-formed through the experience of joining others in faraoyść.

Emotiontas requires conditions of being-with; “there is no being but being with” (Premnath, 2019). At its core, this is rooted in the conception of “being in right relationship with the natural world, learning from the ways change and resilience happen throughout this entire interconnected complex system.” (brown, 2017) and that we are “We are all bound by a covenant of reciprocity: plant breath for animal breath, winter and summer, predator and prey, grass and fire, night and day, living and dying” (Kimmerer, 2016).

This movement, this emotiontas, is adapted from Victor Turner’s adaptation of Paul Goodman’s concept of communitas:

“a relational quality of full, unmediated communication, even communion, between people of definite and determinate identity, which arises spontaneously in all kinds of groups, situations, and circumstances.” (Turner, 2012).

Emotiontas is a relational liminal moment that springs from individuals’ shared emotions - here, the shared emotion of faraoyść - evoked by their own memories that, once combined, take on new emergent properties. Similar to how communitas, “does not merge identities; the gifts of each person are alive to the full, along with those of every other person” (Turner, 2012), the memories and feelings that are part of the evoking of emotiontas do not become blended into a singular shared memory owned by all participants. Instead, the experience of emotiontas is additive and emergent, it contains independent constitutive elements, but takes on a meaning that is larger than the sum of its respective parts.  For example, one participant’s memory of growing up in Bogotá was threaded together in a beautiful meshwork with other participants’ memories in a shared celebration of faraoyść and ending with a neologism: carementure - an imagined world based on care, fulfillment, and the quotidian.

Our research demonstrated that after experiencing emotiontas in a workshop centered around faraoyść, participants’ experienced degrees of healing - some likening the experience to their experiences in therapy. They also felt the ability to more fully and authentically communicate with each other, and a strengthened feeling of hope and personal agency, here defined as the ability for them to affect change to their social, political, and cultural conditions on both individual, institutional, and systemic levels. These (applications?) around care, communication, and hope, however, point to the potential for faraoyść as a disruptive force for active change.

We is made of I's
and I's are made of We's

It's an endless cycle
of convergence and divergence

Like a beautiful dance

We acknowledge and notice I's

And I's know they are never just an I
- Julia W. Szagdaj


3alam Badil

“Once you’re in the room, you’ll be asked to do a couple of things. We’d like you to use your stories of your joyful memories as a jumping off place as you reimagine your topic. Come up with a way to tell us about it. That can be a song, a drawing, an interpretive dance, whatever you like. Then you’ll:

1. Decide what your roles are in this reimagined world so if you pick Ways To Get Around maybe you can be a bridge (jisr jal el dib)? Or a street? Or a lightbulb? Each of you can have a different or as many roles you want.

2. Imagine an object that is part of this alternative world and is supporting you in your role. Think of it as something that doesn’t exist right now in this world. So for example if you’re in Ways To Grow, your object can be a magic door that leads to secret gardens with hashish.

3. Come up with a name for your object. So maybe that magic door will be called: Portewabab.”

- Transcript from Imagining 3alam Badil Workshop

The tile البلاط is a core pillar of modern architecture in Lebanon since the 19th century. Used as decoration on floors and buildings, Lebanese blaat tiles played an instrumental role in the economical growth of the region. However, after the destruction of the Lebanese civil war from 1975 - 1990, and the perfect storm of gentrification, an emphasis on Western architectural trends, infrastructural neglect, and repeated disasters such as the August 4, 2020 Beirut Port Explosion that destroyed over 50,000 homes and buildings, these tiles are now scarce. They are being erased just like many historical cultural and architecture references in Lebanon.

Each tile also has an illustration of the speculative object that participants created, that also uses cultural artifacts from Lebanon such as the lebanese pound, vintage movie characters, and artwork.

In addition to being challenged to think of speculative objects that could create the fabric of an Alternative Lebanon, our workshop participants were also challenged to create new words in order to name the objects.

"True learning is a joy because it is an act of creation. But there are two kinds of joy. One is characterized by light-heartedness and the other is marked by fierce engagement and deep concentration. Both give pleasure in increasing connectedness and complexity in the neural systems of learners. There needs to be an interaction between abstract (spirit) and concrete (physical) worlds of knowledge and reality, and without making connections between different ideas and areas of knowledge, true learning cannot occur" (Yunkaporta).

There is a tension evident here between justice, vengeance, and the usefulness of joy in the face of difficult circumstances. It is true that participants' situated imaginings still included oppressive systems and structures of today’s Lebanon: corruption, ruling political parties, and inadequate infrastructure. Further research is needed to know if sustained engagement with faraoyść and practices of imagination would allow participants to move beyond these systems and co-create new ones.

Our  Imagining 3alam Badil workshop was designed in conjunction with Nour as our “local champion,” which is a a principle learned from the Capacity to Decolonize Initiative process, who define it as, “communities or members thereof, of different kinds in relation with the geographical diversity, themes or institutional structures, that act as direct initiators, designers and facilitators” (Karuri-Sebina, et. al, 2020). Participants were Negligence Refugees from Lebanon. Negligence Refugees are a discrete part of the Lebanese diaspora who have immigrated from Lebanon due to systemic negligence and corruption in the current government. This categorization and naming is intended as a provocation: “Negligence” is both a chronic and acute state of being sourced from the community itself, especially after the August 4th Beirut Port Explosion which was caused by governmental neglect over explosives left in Beirut’s largest port for years. “Refugee” is used to put the responsibility of citizens’ conditions back onto the government, and in recognition of the fact that the term “refugee” requires a legislated amount of aid from NGOs, governments, and the UN - which is often not extended to those privileged enough to leave and become part of the Lebanese diaspora, regardless of the fact they did not want to leave and were instead compelled. It was during the development of this workshop that we shifted to the language of alternative  because participants had expressed to us that they felt they, “could not future” (kabis, 2021). Because their desired futures seemed impossible, they didn’t want to engage in the disappointment that “futuring” evoked.We split the Imagining 3alam Badil workshop into two parts. In Part One, participants wrote stories about their memories, using the Lebanese childhood story construction “Kan Yamakan fi kadim il zaman...” (Eng: Once upon a time).  They then engaged in a co-creative exercise imagining speculative objects based on their stories--objects that could be used to build an alternative Lebanon.

Each object was also named.  In the second part, participants used digital illustrations of the objects on blaat chaya-styled tiles that we had created. They placed them in a grid along with a story of how they all connected to each other.

“We decided that we wanted to to put all the politicians in a dump similar to the one of they created in the “qarantina” area and then cut that piece of land and send it off to sea as a punishment like a bit, commes la mythologie grecque, you know, over and over again...these politicians wear the shoes they feel every single cruelty that they've done and suffering...ya’ni it's a constant feeling of all the people that suffered because of them. They feel what they're feeling for life while smelling the trash. The drone and the shoe are a double torture on this garbage mountain - a continuous one. Then the people who remained in Lebanon we put the USBD so we have a fresh start all of us on a good basis, you know, a common story

...because I think we felt that every time we want a solution it's like, we take the chainsaw and detach [ourselves], whereby they should be the ones detached...It's not always us we need to leave and always to be cut out...khalas...use the chainsaw in a different way and cut them out, henneh (them) ..”
(wara2 3enab, kabis, mtabbal, 2021)

Our findings demonstrated that when centering faraoyść, participants who had previously expressed opposition to futuring were now able create richly detailed speculative objects and stories to create an Alternative Lebanon. This action then allowed them to create different narratives. For example, one group proposed an alternative use of one of the objects: what had been an “independence chainsaw” intended to cut Lebanon away from its neighboring countries and become “LeBahamas”, was instead changed to a tool to cut out the corrupt politicians and exile them. This indicated a shift in Situated Imaginings where instead of the assumption that it is citizens who have to leave their home countries in times of difficulty because of corruption, now the corrupt politicians should be cast out of society instead.

At the end of the workshop process, participants expressed that the exercise gave them joy, but also that the exercise was tinged with sadness. Finally, a third voiced the liberatory orientation of Faroyść when thought of in the context of the "real" world.

“We didn't think about the sad things, we were just having fun and thinking about what we can do to...get a bit of our humanity back” (kabis, 2021).

“...this exercise starts being hard when I realized that we're only imagining... I think this is where my imagination stops when I realized that this is actually heartbreaking to talk about. Like it's a fun exercise, but at the root of it, it's really very, very sad” (mtabbal, 2021).

“...an absurd situation like the one we're living with absolute completely absurd monsters, we can say this needs an totally creative and imaginative solution that we don't have a hold of yet…” (wara2 3enab, 2021).

In the second part, participants placed digital illustrations of the objects on blaat chaya-styled tiles into a pattern and created a story to demonstrate how they all connected to each other.

We chose to use the blaat tile as a way to bridge current-day Lebanon with an imagined Alternative Lebanon that Negligence Refugees from Lebanon co-imagined in a two-part participatory workshop held from March-April 2021. The colors evoke vintage Lebanese posters and advertisements in remembrance of the Golden Era, and to serve as proof that this era existed in a time when the collective memory of Lebanon is constantly threatened with obliteration. The circular writing - badil, Arabic: alternative. It mimics the current situation in Lebanon that is in a constant loop, without any escape. Badil surrounds a stylized Arabic Aw, which means “or”. Participants were challenged to think of an “or” - an alternative to current day obstacles, struggles, and oppression.

Our participants invented six neologisms to describe the objects they imagined: Shoe حلو, Independence Chainsaw منشار الاستقلال & Lebahamas لباهاماز, USBد, Shame-Drone استحوا, Za7teh Soap زحّطي, and بيroots. Some words, like Shoe-Helo (حلو) are cultural inside-jokes; the word Chou Helo means how nice, and the shoe itself is meant to create empathy - literally “walking in one’s shoes”.

By creating these new words participants were able to belong to the objects in new ways. The word creation also allowed participants to turn the objects into functional metaphors, which in words of one participant was important because, “I would be sad if it's only an imaginative world” (wara2 3enab, 4.3).


4. Engage in Serious Play

We commit to create an atmosphere that can walk the line between serious topics, such as displacement and oppression, with jokes and fun. We did this through funk and pop music, changing our names to our favorite food or words. This allowed participants to engage in safe estrangement and role play. Heather McKnight writes that, “estrangement allows for the critical utopian process to take place” (McKnight, 2019).

“Serious playing is a serious thing. And if you can get people to play and to joke about anything, they've already transformed it.”.
(Kamara, 2021)

1. Center co-design and the importance of participants leading the process.

For example, in order to evoke memories of faraoyść for Negligence Refugees, we took our design cues from Nour, who is a Negligence Refugee herself. It was her lived experience of Lebanon that led us to shift from using poetry in the Faraoyść: Imagining Futures Built On Joy workshop to using a storytelling structure from Lebanese children stories: “Kan Yamakan fi kadim il zaman…”. We also used Lebanese cultural aesthetics and design traditions when materializing speculative objects on tiles, which drew imagery and color schemes from vintage Lebanese advertisements, movies posters, and cultural landmarks.
Through our work, we developed a set of design principles to guide our facilitation practices. Faraoyść is absolutely reliant on co-design with participants, and is emergent by nature - meaning it changes shape, methods and medium depending on the context.

We developed our principles out of theories of emergent-process design (brown, 2017) the power of naming (Lorde,1984), performance and play (Boal, 2002; Dolan, 2006; McKnight, 2019; Brecht, 1967), materializations of time (Halberstam, 2011; Gordon, 2011; Bisht, 2017; Kamara, 2021), utopia and wish-landscapes (Muñoz, 2009) among others.

Our practice is guided by the following principles that we regularly revisit and revise as the work develops.

3. Create Concrete Utopias

Concrete utopias are defined as:

“relational to historically situated struggles, a collectivity that is actualized or potential. In our everyday life abstract utopias are akin to banal optimism. (Recent calls for gay or queer optimism seem too close to elite homosexual evasion of politics.) Concrete utopias can also be daydream-like, but they are the hopes of a collective, an emergent group, or even the solitary oddball who is the one who dreams for many” (Muñoz, 2009).

For example, concrete utopias emerged in the Faraoyść: Imagining Futures Built on Joy workshops when participants created futures with themes around self-organized societies, abundance, and being-with, which were reactions against the division created by our modernist hyper-capitalist society. Concrete utopias also required engaging in how time informed our process.

Often, the concept of “futures” is still inherently based on a linear concept of time that can be divided into past, present, and future. This concept of time can be exclusionary for people who do not think of time linearly, or have non-western conceptions of time, or in the case of Negligence Refugees, are (trapped?) in “State-Time” - a play on Halberstam’s “straight-time” - in which oppressive political forces have trapped them in a loop of the present as they watch power be handed from father to son, and the ability to change the country suppressed.

2. Only work with people with whom we are in community.

We define this as those to whom we were accountable, and in relationship with before, during, and after our process. In the workshops themselves, we negotiated our proximity as researchers, either from a place of inside community or process (the inside-inside); or outside community or process (the outside-outside).

For example in the Faraoyść: Imagining Futures Built on Joy workshops, we were all inside-inside the process: we knew participants as members of our own communities and were instrumental in guiding the process. However at the start of the Imagining 3alam Badil workshop, Nour operated from a place of inside-inside as a Negligence Refugee herself, and the local champion when it came to the co-design of the workshops. Julia and Anna started the process as outside-inside researchers; outside of the community, but inside of the process. Because of the methods and shared emergent experiences of faraoyść, by the end of the workshop we had all created relationships with participants and now bordered the line between inside/outside with the community.

All three of us became accountable to our workshop participants for what we uncovered in our research. This acknowledges the need for a continued relationship even after this research has ended, and a commitment to stand in solidarity with the needs and demands of Negligence Refugees. While it is perhaps impossible to be truly inside a community that one has not grown up with, or spent deep, intentional time with, we see our collaboration as the first step of many and therefore we commit to these relationships continuing after the end of the project.

“I think joy for me is something very dynamic and full of motion and also full of struggle... the transcendence comes from engaging and challenging experiences that push your edges and which you can engage in communication with others.” (AM, 2020)

“the interaction or relationship between individual futures and collective futures...I would think about it as, like individual trajectories, you know, and collective trajectories, rather than, you know, futures or pasts... how certain events or you know, ruptures that then can become events, kind of force a focus on how those things are…” (RWP, 2020)

“we are actually stories, all of us are stories. So therefore, you know, we all have a story to tell. We are all storytellers” (KK, 2021)

And objects have that power, just like poetry has the power. But you can listen to a story today and then tell you down the road, the same story tells the same story. And you see something completely different (KK, 2021)

I think every culture has some idea of play, but I don't think they all do it or use it the same way. So for some, there's an eagerness and an openness to even the idea of using the word play in the game, and that for some, they're more conservative, and so they may not think that they're willing to play, but eventually they do play. And so again, some of those issues are issues either of language or just sort of culture and how we approached things. But I do believe that, with some creativity and some contextualization, it's always possible to draw people into the exercise. (GKS, 2021)

“The idea of a future is also quite like, could be considered like an imaginary space, it could be considered something that's sort of like, it's like the idea of infinity, right? It's sort of like something that that you can conceive of, but that is not tangible. It's something that is always sort of emergent.” (RR, 2020)


Faraoyść is not just an emotion, but an organizing theory, a practice, and a result. It is pluriversal in that faraoyść is not a singular emotion but instead a {(thing?)} that develops from millions of individual experiences of faraoyść, which combine to hold disruptive power.   Faraoyść is a critique of the systems in which we already exist, and a challenge to ways of knowing that we already have embedded within our societies.

We used faraoyść-led memory recall which is to intentionally travel in time and to ignite memories and cognition. We employed culturally specific games to create comfort and spaces with care where vulnerability and openness is welcomed. We gave a lot of time - as change is not a quick process; it takes many stages and forms. We created spaces, and allowed long conversations for participants to have with each other, privately enclosed in break-out rooms in order to connect more deeply to a hidden gut, emotional level, where “language is less specific, more concerned with evoking visual images, with touching the heart instead of reading the head” (Inayatullah, 1998). In the process, emotional alternatives and worlds unfolded and built upon each other, scaffolding participatory joy into a beautiful meshwork.

Faraoyść is not a panacea. There can be - despite best intentions -  a utopic naivete when evoking emotions of faraoyść that might not be appropriate for all instances, for example moments of acute crisis or with people whose emotions are vulnerable to manipulation. Because it is collective, faraoyść should only be done in community between those who are facilitating and those who are co-creating. There must be accountability on all sides.

Other scholars and practitioners in this space, such as Luis Prado, Pedro de Oliveira, Pupal Bisht, the Decolonizing Design Collective, and the UNESCO Futures Literacy Lab and Network are currently working to increase individuals’ capacities to imagine alternatives and futures outside of a Western rationalist lens. Faraoyść also pushes against a colonized lens because it restores agency and power to both the collective imagination and the individual within that collective. In this way, it is our hope that this process can contribute to current efforts to decolonize - defined as, “strengthening a community’s ability to use their own local traditions, culture and values in defining and addressing local key challenges'' - in futures and other forms of worldbuilding. Thus the underlying theory of faraoyść is that the experience of emotiontas succeeds in expanding the boundaries around an individual’s situated imaginings, which can aid in the quest for decolonization and liberation.

Centering faraoyść dismantles common tropes found in research that Eve Tuck calls damage-centered research:

In damage-centered research, one of the major activities is to document pain or loss in an individual, community, or tribe...the danger in damage-centered research is that it is a pathologizing approach in which the oppression singularly defines a community. [it] operates, even benevolently, from a theory of change that establishes harm or injury in order to achieve reparation  (Tuck, 2009).

These are common narratives that run through research, especially research done on vulnerabilized communities, that operates from a flawed theory of change suggesting that the research will contribute to helping a population move from “broken” to “fixed”. We do not align ourselves with that theory of change. The people we worked with, created with, and learned from are not broken, fragile, or the overused “resilient”. They are already living with faraoyść, and our role as transdisciplinary practitioners was to provide a space where they could practice, voice, and materialize their imagined alternatives together. We made spaces for naming and surfacing the invisible or unnamed contexts that constrain our imaginings, so that by recognizing these constraints we might dismantle them.

Faraoyść is directly counter to efforts that, “invites oppressed peoples to speak but to “only speak from that space in the margin that is a sign of deprivation, a wound, an unfulfilled longing. Only speak your pain” (hooks, 1990, Tuck, 2009). We want people to speak of abundance, of joy, and of liberation. This is work that is already happening. After all, as one of our participants said: “...the only thing that works...is an alternative...that is not recognized, that is not institutionalized, and doesn't have the power to take power” (wara2 3enab, 2021).

Faraoyść gives a name to what is already there, and gives it room to grow.