writer / researcher / worldbuilder
[ infrastructure / climate ]
Paul Graham Raven is an versatile consulting writer and researcher whose specialisations make him ideal for projects which aim to map possible futures, and to bring them to life.
Drawing on the parallel skill-sets of a science fiction author and a pioneering qualitative researcher, Raven describes himself as a worldbuilder: a specialist in the construction and depiction of human futures, be they possible, plausible, preferable or perilous. Whether starting from character or context, Raven uses techniques from literature, as well as from film, theatre, design and art, producing ‘thick’ futures, rich with detail and nuance.
Raven’s worldbuilding offer is rooted in rigorous, synthetic qualitative research (with particular expertise in infrastructure, sociotechnical change and climate adaptation), and adaptable, structure-driven writing talent. With experience covering everything from literature reviews and horizon scanning, through science fiction prototyping and red-teaming, to bespoke theoretical frameworks and sociotechnical ethnography, the only things he struggles to write are consulting CVs and two-line emails.
Raven currently lives in Malmö, southern Sweden, with a cat, some guitars and too many books. He finds writing about himself in the third person to be a deeply weird experience.
Raven has played a leading role in innovative futures projects within academia and beyond, and in the development of the methodology known as narrative prototyping, which uses storytelling techniques and multiple media to produce documents, performances and environments which transport their audiences into futurity. Examples:
- The Rough Planet Guide to Notterdam 2045: a tourist guide to a fictional European city of the near future, which uses this familiar and accessible medium to depict the street-level effects of sociotechnical change and climate adaptation on urban lifeways.
- The Museum of Carbon Ruins: using the museum as a rhetorical framing device, MCR takes familiar items and materials from the present and makes them strange through written texts and theatrical “guide” performances. (Has metastasised into various other media.)
- LU@375: a “2041 jubilee” issue of Lund University Magazine, exploring HE futures in Sweden and beyond. Contents informed by an extensive sequence of workshops with academics, students and staff. Launched with a live “talk show” discussion
Raven has provided research and writing for clients including The Futures Company, Kantar Futures, Blue Chula, and the School of International Futures. Contributions have included literature reviews, horizon scanning, socio-historical research and analysis, report structuring and writing, theorisation and conceptualisation, and illustrative fiction. Examples:
- Developing Potential: community experiences of regeneration (Blue Chula/Local Trust UK, 2019)
- Redefining the C-Suite: Business the Millennial Way (Kantar Futures/AmEx, 2017)
- The Future of Housing and Home: Scenarios for 2030 (Futures CompanyShelter UK, 2016)
Raven has also collaborated with noted design studios (e.g. Superflux) and internationally renowned artists (e.g. Katie Paterson).
SKILLS AND CREDENTIALS OVERVIEW
WRITER (from 2004)
- NON-FICTION: reports and white papers; lit reviews and topic surveys (various levels and depths); essays, op-eds, occasional writings (short and longreads); blogging and vernacular forms
- FICTION: MA (with Merit) Creative Writing (specialisation SF/F), Middlesex U, 2012
- published and anthologised short story author; published poet; columnist and workshop leader on writing techniques and strategies (academic, non-academic, fiction)
- LITERARY CRITICISM: noted reviewer and critic of genre fiction
- EDITORIAL: experience as managing and commissioning editor
- COPYEDITING & PROOFREADING: experience with both fiction and non-fiction
RESEARCHER (from 2011)
- PhD in Infrastructure Futures and Theory, Uni of Sheffield, 2018
- European Commission Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship, Lund Uni (SE), 2020-22
- FIELDS: social futures; sociotechnical change: media and infrastructure; climate futures
- THEORIES: actor-network theory; social practice theory; situated knowledges
- METHODS: cyborg ethnography; social futures; design fiction / narrative prototyping
- PUBLICATIONS: highlights below; full academic CV also available.
- CITATIONS: 342 (as of August 2023); h-index = 9
- Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow: Lund U, SE (10/2020–09/2022)
- Senior researcher (various projects): Lund U, SE (10/2018–09/2020)
- RA, doctoral researcher, postdoctoral RA: U Sheffield (10/2011–09/2018)
- Raven, PG (in press) “Rough guides and carbon ruins: narrative prototyping for reconfigured sociotechnical futurities.” Routledge Handbook of Energy Humanities
- Raven, PG (2021) “Experts in their own tomorrows: placemaking for participatory climate futures.” Routledge Handbook of Placemaking
- Raven PG, Stripple J (2020) “Touring the carbon ruins: towards an ethics of speculative decarbonisation.” Global Discourse
- Raven PG (2017) “Telling tomorrows: science fiction as an energy futures research tool.” Energy Research & Social Science
- Raven PG, Elahi S (2015) “The New Narrative: applying narratology to the shaping of futures outputs.” Futures
Selected presentations / keynotes:
- Speaker: “The limit(ation)s of literacy: meandering toward a (trans)media ecology of futures“; Futures Brought to Life symposium, University of Applied Arts Vienna, 2022 [video]
- Speaker: “How does the rabbit end up in the hat? (Or: what transhumanism doesn’t want you to know about infrastructure.)”, Zuendfunk Net-Conference, Munich, 2017 [video]
- Speaker: “What lies beneath? Infrastructure fiction and utopian urbanism”, FutureEverything2014, Manchester, 2014 [video; starts at ~31m00s]