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.