My interest in the workshop stems from my PhD research, which explores how we might approach the idea of ‘feminist history’ from a historiographical perspective that is not bound to a framework of historical totality, linearity or teleology. I am currently trying to work out an understanding of historical time based upon Dipesh Chakrabarty’s concept of ‘heterotemporality’, and Paul Ricoeur’s notion of historical time as a form of public/social time that is constructed through the overlapping of multiple time frames and concepts, including: ‘calendar time’ (the time of dating and periodizations); ‘generational time’ (based upon notions such as ‘legacy’, ‘predecessors’, ‘contemporaries’, and ‘succesors’); ontologies and epistemologies of the past as ‘trace’; and temporal concepts which ‘temporalize’ certain periods of history -or history per se- such as progress, decline, cyclicality or stagnation. These different overlapping ‘strands’ that constitute historical time, I will try to show, are socially and culturally specific, and always open to contestation and refiguration. I will then ask how this idea of historical time might alter how we think about and construct feminist histories. For example: if we work from a model of historical time as multiple or ‘heterotemporal’ (rather than from a model of temporal totality and historical alignment), in what terms can we speak of ‘feminist histories’ as ‘collective’ histories? And how would it affect our notions of historical agency and judgment?
My ideas at the moment are still being developed, so I am really looking forward to learning from all the different participants’ perspectives on social and cultural time.
Victoria's Lightning Talk
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 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 am an independent researcher whose academic training has primarily been in the area of Literary Studies and Critical Theory. In 2007 I began volunteering at a people’s history museum in Cardiff called the Butetown History & Arts Centre, where I learnt about life stories, oral history and the possibility of using museums as a vehicle for social change. Since then I have pursued an interest in public history and have recently curated an exhibition about feminism in Bristol called Sistershow Revisited. At present I am very interested in creating on and offline spaces where people and historical information can collide. My approach to this workshop will draw on these concerns, specifically exploring the issue of time within researching, documenting and disseminating vulnerable forms of material culture. As a case study I will draw on the Women’s Liberation Music Archive, a recently launched web archive of music from the UK feminist movements of the 1970s and 1980s. I shall be exploring how the creative actions produced by women in these communities, when digitised, has the capacity to transform the temporality of contemporary cultural memory.
Deborah's Lightning Talk