Affiliations: Senior Lecturer in the English department at the University of Central Lancashire and Affiliated Fellow at the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies of the School of Advanced Study of London University.
I am a philosopher, working mostly in the history of 19th and 20th century German philosophy, metaphysics and philosophy of language. I am particularly interested in the work of Ernst Bloch, and in the Connected Communities programme I am looking at the relation between ‘community’ and ‘future’ from the perspective of Bloch’s utopian and messianic ontology of the ‘not yet’. For classical metaphysics, community can be said, at the most fundamental level, to be a characteristic of being itself. The paradoxes of community are ontological in nature. Even in Kant’s critique of metaphysics, the fundamental role of the idea of community is maintained in several incarnations (not lastly that of the ‘Reich’ (Kingdom) of Ends as a union of rational beings). In Bloch’s ontology the fundamental role that ‘community’ has played in the history of philosophy is maintained, but enriched with a unique perspective on the part played by the ‘not yet’. This allows us to rethink a range of concepts essential to the life and discourse of communities, including justice, community engagement, freedom and tradition, the relation between the individual and the community and the relation between community (Gemeinschaft) and society (Gesellschaft) in modernity.
I am a Research Associate in Politics at the University of Exeter. The project that I am working on with Dr. Robin Durie and Dr. Katrina Wyatt, titled “Researching with Communities: Towards a Leading Edge Theory and Practice for Community Engagement”, is part of the AHRC led Connected Communities programme. The purpose of our scoping study is to investigate the usefulness of complexity theory for understanding the relations between academic researchers and the public communities they engage with, and more broadly, the conditions for successful community engagement. Challenging traditional conceptions of time is of course a central component of complexity theory. Thus if communities are understood as complex systems, and if complexity represents the most effective means for theorising the connectivity within and between communities and academic researchers, how time is conceived and interacted with will play a crucial role throughout the process of engagement.
Aside from this research project, I am also pursuing my interests in time and communities through a monograph that I am writing for Edinburgh University Press (2012). This book, titled History and Becoming: Deleuze’s Philosophy of Creativity, will examine the work of Deleuze and several of his conceptual forebears (Marx, Nietzsche, Bergson, Péguy and Braudel) in order to address the following problematic: what is the relation between history and the creation of the new? While much work has been done on the importance of Deleuze’s philosophy of time to his political and social philosophy for change, I hope to demonstrate in this book how an appreciation of his philosophy of history is equally indispensable. You can find out more about my work here.
Craig's Lightning Talk:
I first became interested in the interconnections between time and community while I was writing my undergraduate (honours) thesis on Donna Haraway’s work and its implications for feminist coalition building. Looking at both her and Gloria Anzaldua’s work on hybrid identities it seemed that attempts to rethink community in terms of hybridity also appeared to involve challenges to linear conceptions of time, involving for example, critiques of teleology, progress and assumptions about how change happens over time. I took up this problem in my PhD thesis in Philosophy. However I found it quite difficult to approach this problem in the way I wanted to from a solely continental philosophical framework, and was particularly inspired by Carol Greenhouse’s work to explore the way the time of social life can be understood as being produced through the negotiation of social conflict. As a result I ended up developing an interdisciplinary approach to ‘time and community’ that draws on anthropology, sociology, feminist philosophy as well as continental philosophy.
My current project builds on this work, in order to develop an account of the way both time and community are being transformed in the context of climate change and resource depletion. Taking inspiration from Donna Haraway’s account of figurations as ‘condensed maps of contested worlds’ (1997, 11), I will produce case studies of three figures that might instead serve as ‘condensed clocks of contested worlds’. Looking at atomic and molecular clocks, leather-back turtles on the verge of extinction and community-led attempts to build sustainable cities, I want to analyse how an attentiveness to each of these different sites opens up a view onto the complex temporalities and relationalities that are being mobilised. It is envisioned that these ‘condensed clocks’ may enable new ways of understanding the task of ‘telling the time’ in the current context. This work involves a variety of collaborations including with Transition Liverpool and other members of the Extinction Studies working group.
While completing my PhD I often felt a little lost in the wilderness, with very few guides for how to approach the problems of time and community together in the way that I wanted to – at least none that I could find at the time! While there is certainly some enjoyment in feeling this way, I’m very much looking forward to working with others at the workshop to start developing a more explicit framework for thinking through these intersections.
I have recently completed my PhD on the ‘right time’ for fatherhood, which takes a temporal approach to fertility decision-making. In addition to evaluation of new and existing techniques for the elicitation and analysis of temporal data, the thesis takes forward discussion of concepts used in temporal theory, such as notions of gendered time. The thesis was undertaken alongside my research work on the ‘Men-as-Fathers’ project at Cardiff University, part of the UK-wide qualitative longitudinal network Timescapes, which aims to foreground the importance of temporal study.
Alongside my continuing involvement in Timescapes, I am currently conducting a theoretical review of concepts related to community-level strengths and their impact on health and wellbeing, which is part of a broader review funded under the AHRC Connected Communities research programme. From August 2011 I will be employed on an ESRC funded research project ‘Energy Biographies’ which seeks to explore the formation, embeddedness and development of energy practices as part of everyday life and the life-course. One of the study’s aims is to develop improved understandings of which different community configurations can provide a strong basis for transition in everyday energy consumption and practices when framed around people’s biographies. As part of this work, I will be building on my existing understanding of temporal study and applying relevant concepts to the community context.
I was a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Southampton (at Warwick from autumn 2011), working on a project with Prof. Graham Crow which is part of the AHRC-funded Connected Communities research programme entitled ‘Conceptualisations and meanings of "community": the theory and operationalisation of a contested concept'. I have a long-standing interest in urban and community studies, particularly the complex relationships between global processes of socioeconomic change and local contexts of lived experience. My contribution to this workshop will consider the problem of time in relation to community through exploring the topic of ‘rethinking regeneration and prosperity in a time of economic crisis and resource depletion’. My talk will draw on policy debates on regeneration in the UK, as well as empirical research on lived experiences of recent regeneration schemes in the case study of Walker, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The notion of ‘time’ will be explored firstly in relation to the short historical memories of city planners about the limitations of past regeneration policies, tracing a wider historical sociology of regeneration policies and practices in the UK. Secondly, the notion of time will be explored through critically analysing assumptions of economic growth and progress embedded in dominant models of arts-and-property-led regeneration in the context of an era of uncertainty, recession and environmental crisis. I argue that regeneration policies should be broadened to focus on the wider picture of employment, public services, sustainable living environments, diversity and social inclusion, and community life.
Educated in Russia and in England (Philosopher’s Diploma, St. Petersburg State University and PhD in Philosophy, Centre for Professional Ethics, UCLAN), Elena Fell has an insider’s view of two distinct cultures, which helps her to grasp the specificity of intercultural communication and communication between diverse communities. Elena’s research project which will explore the relationship between communities and the future (carried out jointly with Dr Johan Siebers as Principal Investigator) will naturally follow from her longstanding interest in the philosophy of time, self and communication. In her PhD thesis Elena explored Bergson’s theory of duration and prepared ground for its further development. After completing her PhD Elena has worked as a Research Assistant at the School of Journalism, Media and Communication, University of Central Lancashire. She is also Editorial Assistant for Empedocles: European Journalfor the Philosophy of Communication.
My involvement in the scoping study on Communities and Future has just began, so the workshop will be an opportunity to gain inspiration for myself and to share with others my previous research findings on time, history and selfhood.
Elena's Lightning Talk
I am a lecturer in political theory at the University of Leeds. My own research has focused on the problem of account for political community in conditions of moral and cultural diversity and conflict. To engage with this problem, I’ve tried in my work to elaborate a ‘narrative conception’ of community that conceives of communities as temporally extended shared lives that conform to different sorts of narrative patterns. I hope that the workshop will help me to broaden my sense of the connections between community and time and further to problematize the approach I’ve hitherto deployed.
Derek's Lightning Talk
I am a Sociologist at Newcastle, taking up a new post at Warwick in July. My PhD research developed an account of biopolitics and cultures of life, considered in terms of structures and innovations in experience (Biopolitical Experience: Foucault Power & Positive Critique forthcoming 2011, Palgrave).
I argue (drawing especially on Foucault but also Arendt, Benjamin, Simmel and Deleuze) that ideas and imageries of life, lived experience, vitality, growth and evolution are immensely important for the affective force and allure of community-making/authority-making discourses in the contemporary societies. This importance can be understood, in part, as a reconstitution of a qualitatively rich, deep, temporality - or duration/duree - in the present passing moment. Life constitutes a kind of immanent-transcendent plane in which the present moment becomes a quasi-infinite, qualitatively rich, duration (a duration extending through space rather than time, through present affective influence and connections).
With the idea of 'immanent authority' a group of us (the Authority Research Network) are attempting to articulate and explore the intersection of duration-making, experience in the duree, and community making, in the present (and modern) context of radical finitude and contingency. We draw upon classic theories of authority, which suggest that authority makes community by connecting people to a foundational past, and (with a range of post-strucutralist and cultural theorists) consider how similar processes operate in a present that knows no such past. We are undertaking a Connected Communities Scoping Study called ‘Immanent Authority and the Making of Community’.
I am an archaeologist employed by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. We are a non- departmental government body in Scotland and we help to survey, record, interpret and present the historic environment of Scotland and an AHRC IRO. I studied Geography and Archaeology at Manchester University and then Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh. I am currently undertaking a research review as part of the AHRC Connected Communities programme, entitled ‘Linking Communities to Historic Environments', which looks at how organisations like ourselves and others engages with communities through the historic environment. My approach to the topic of the workshop is simple; if it wasn’t for time I would not be here. Time is what my job is about, it forms the core of my research and is measured in archaeological time, through people’s actions and remains.
Alex's Lightning Talk