I am currently writing up a Ph.D. entitled "From engagement to enforcement and back again; re-claiming community from disappointment and exhaustion", which takes a critical perspective on the interpretation of community and 'informal controls' on behaviour within Anglo-Foucauldian 'governmentality' studies. The PhD builds upon research carried out with 'Friends Groups'; community organisations focused upon particular green spaces. Through the work of Bernard Stiegler and Jacques Rancière the thesis investigates the technical and aesthetic particularities of Friends' practices, before drawing these observations into a theory of community and the 'in-common' in line with Jean-Luc Nancy's concept of the 'inoperative' community.
In my own research temporalities of community formation and retention have been central concerns. A frequent problem for Friends Groups is the difficulty of forming long-term circuits of community involvement from short-term 'threats', while conversely an enduring presence of community is often forged from one-off events. Where groups focus upon the formation of a community presence as a form of behavioural control, this relies upon an authority forged as the temporality of an enduring care for a space. I have sought by looking at Stiegler to examine the technical (the discourses, strategies, plans and calculations that shape community practice) composition of community involvement, examining as such the temporality of community as it is located in technical circuits of care and education.
Sam's Pecha Kucha Presentation
I have a long interest in eco/feminism, politics, activism, naturecultures, feminist theory, methods, and time manifests in multiple ways in this work.
I have been committed to recording and creating eco/feminist histories and archives, work which happens in the context of a feminism curiously obsessed with time, past, present and future. Feminist histories abound with accounts of the ‘end’ or ‘death’ of feminism; waves; movements; generations and generational conflicts’ legacy; claims for new waves of feminism, ‘third’ and ‘fourth’ waves, ‘new’ feminist materialisms. I am interested in what is disavowed in many of these moves, and how disavowal sometimes happens through placing people and events in the past, in history, by declaring them out of step, out of time. I am currently completing a monograph drawing on research with women environmental activists (The Changing Nature of Feminism: Unnatural Histories of Eco/feminism from Clayoquot Sound).
Stories of ‘burn-out’ from activism have led me to reflect on ways of refiguring politics as radical everyday activism which might sustain activists as well as the planet, and refigure care of the self as a profoundly collective and community-based practice. I am involved in participatory research with a young lesbian and bisexual women’s organic allotment project in Manchester, and I have emerging research interests in radical approaches to food and nutrition, alternative health practices, as well as other embodied practices such as yoga, Alexander Technique, and mindfulness; practices which stress an embodied mindfulness as an approach to being in the world. I am also interested in their take up as a resistance to Western notions of ageing as a degenerative process.
I am also fascinated by questions of time and research. As well having in mind the time involved in doing research with communities, and questions for researchers who are also involved in the communities being researched, of when is community being practiced and when is research being practiced, I am more generally interested in the temporalities of many methods (and disciplines) used in research with communities. Oral history, interviews, ethnography, memory work, genealogy, the generation and creation of archives, often carry implicit notions of history and time and how history is being recorded and researched, but also of how the research is understand to happen in and through time.
Niamh's Pecha Kucha
I am Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester, and co-Director of the ESRC Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC) where I covene the research theme on ‘Topologies of Social Change’ - an inter-disciplinary group interested in the politics of space, time and matter. I am currently working with Hannah Knox on an ethnography of roads in the Andean and Amazonian regions of Peru. Our almost finished book - Precarious Infrastructures - tracks the material, moral and social controversies produced by a volatile mix of engineering expertise, transnational capital and territorial politics. We are particularly interested in how road construction projects mobilise spatial and temporal imaginaries. Roads are field sites that allow for the empirical study of trans-local places that register histories of travel and of settlement, and that draw together the preoccupations and speculative investments of multilateral funders, international trade and local enterprises. Since October 2010 I have also been working on a new ethnographic project entitled Unsettling the State: Law, Engineering and Regional Government in Cusco, Peru. This is a collaborative project in a research team of six ethnographers, which I run together with Deborah Poole (Johns Hopkins University) that looks at how the ambiguities that technical and legal knowledges create and sustain are mobilised in the exercise of state power. The tropes of temporality and community are central to this work.
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 have been a member of the Archaeology Subject Area from 2005, specialising in later prehistory: specifically, the Iron Age of Britain and Ireland. Key themes in my research include aspects of identity (exploring the intersection of age, gender, skill and life-courses in prehistoric communities), and relations between people and place, animal communities and objects. I also study the archaeology and anthropology of death and burial: currently focusing on the chariot burials of East Yorkshire. In addition, I have been involved in the recording and analysis of historic farm graffiti in the Yorkshire Wolds, and this has led to an interest in interdisciplinary research involving buildings recording, archival and photographic analysis, combined with oral history. This latter research has provided the inspiration for my involvement in this conference, and I look forward to sharing ideas with fellow researchers on how we might understand time as key to shaping distinct communities, and how we might explore contrasting rhythms of temporality through material culture.
In association with my colleague, Siân Jones, I will also introduce a new collaborative project on Whitworth Park, which aims to explore how urban communities are constituted in space and time, through their material practices. We are also interested in how the intersection of past and present creates connections between communities over time, and how archaeology can act as a site of memory and identity work.
I work at the Countryside and Community Research Institute in an ESRC research project on flood memories and community resilience to floods. I completed my doctoral studies in anthropology at the University of Aberdeen in 2010. I am fascinated with the discursive power of the idea of community, as well as with the transformative potential of this concept. I am interested in temporality from several angles. During my doctoral fieldwork along a river in Lapland, I was struck by the stark seasonality of social and ecological life, and the manifold other rhythmical dynamics in which the seasons are embedded. More recently, I have tried to come to grips with the dynamics of memory and remembering, where a past (that is remembered), a present (that sees the remembering) and a future (informed by this memory) are constantly mixed and matched. I am curious to explore the relationships between temporality and community, for instance in collective memory practices, or in the common experience of recurring episodic events, both of which may illustrate ways in which flood memory and community resilience are linked.
Franz's Pecha Kucha
I have been based in Archaeology at the University of Manchester since 1997. My research has crosscut disciplinary and period boundaries, drawing on archaeology, social anthropology, history, and cultural geography, whilst ranging from the Neolithic to the present-day. The main enduring theme is the relationship between material culture, time, and various forms of identity (community, ethnic, national and diasporic identities). My recent projects have focused on: heritage, modernity and the nation-state; the production of social memory; the experience of authenticity; and the theory and practice of conservation. A new research project, jointly led with Melanie Giles, focuses on the urban public park as an arena in which class, ethnicity, taste, citizenship, health, leisure, memory and place have been produced and negotiated in the past and present.
The workshop is an exciting opportunity to explore approaches to the interconnections between time and community. I am interested in how communities are constituted in time and space through material culture and practice. I hope to offer insights into the ways in which community connectivities and time intersect in the form of memory-work. My presentation will focus on how historic objects, monuments and places facilitate forms of community connectivity across time and space, producing a tangible sense of immediate connection to the past and allowing people to negotiate networks of belonging. This will complement the presentation by Melanie Giles on temporalities of practice and the production of community connectivity, which is another important strand in our joint project.
Slides from Sian's Lightning Talk
I’m a sociologist currently lecturing at Newcastle University. I have a background in cultural theory and an enduring interest in environmental utopianism. I’m particularly concerned with what utopian fiction can contribute to debates about better futures with nature. Seen as expressions of desire for something different and better, rather than simply structural blueprints, utopian narratives can open up critical and creative spaces for imagining otherness and social change.
The disruptive temporalities offered by utopian thinking are more necessary than ever in relation to contemporary environmental problems and politics. Dominant climate change discourses work with a limited set of temporal repertoires: rational modelling and prediction, popular catastrophism, individual techniques of carbon counting and self-discipline. In these contexts, the capacity to imagine and hope for better social-natural futures seems to be receding. The emphasis is on preserving existing social arrangements and relationships rather than responding to how notions of community might be generatively challenged by bringing nature into matters of ethics, politics and human well-being.
I hope this workshop will help develop my thinking about the powerful resources offered by utopianism, its capacity to critique the present and stimulate affective and experiential engagements with alternative temporalities and different kinds of community. And I hope to learn more about how these ideas might connect with diverse research on time and community, especially approaches that cross boundaries between the humanities and social sciences.
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