Today, power over time is primarily conceptualised as an individual task. Rather than being submitted to collective or institutional disciplinary forces, which impose time regimes that maximally exploit the human body, contemporary individuals aim to discipline themselves, thus imposing self-chosen time regimes on their working and life styles. However, the more free the institutional time orderings are, the more difficult it is to discipline oneself. Today self-discipline seems to become a burden, which ultimately deprives the individual of his/her power over time.
Marli Huijer has a Civis Mundi Chair in Philosophy of Culture, Politics and Religion in the Faculty of Philosophy of the Erasmus University. Huijer studied Medicine and Philosophy (University of Amsterdam). She obtained a doctorate in Philosophy of Medicine in 1996, with a dissertation on AIDS and Michel Foucault’s aesthetics of existence. Huijer was employed as senior researcher in Practical Philosophy at Groningen University, visiting academic at the London School of Economics and Political Science (UK) and from 2002 till 2005 she was extraordinary professor in Gender and Biomedical Sciences at Maastricht University (Center for Gender and Diversity).
Her research focuses on rhythm, culture and religion; time (how social and technological developments transform our experience and dealings with time); philosophy of science and technology; gender and biomedical sciences.
Exploring Interspecies Temporality (with Tarsh Bates)
In the context of the global honeybee crisis, there is perception that we are running out of time. The race is on to save the bees and ourselves. Albert Einstein is rumoured to have claimed that “if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man [sic] would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more man [sic].” This presentation describes an artistic research project by Tarsh Bates and Sue Hauri-Downing that explores ideas of multispecies agency in the space/time entanglements between humans and the European honey bee Apis mellifera. This ongoing project traverses the globe, investigating historical and material bee/human naturecultures in Australia and Switzerland, combining sculpture, performance, evolutionary biology and ethnography to understand interspecies agency, ecology and place. The 'busy bee' has long been considered by humans to be a metaphor of industry and efficiency. Strangely however humans in contemporary technologically rich societies seem to be increasingly time poor. Industrialization does not seem to have made us more efficient. In fact this project has shown that having to engage, research and perform at the pace of the 'busy bee' forces us to slow down; to shift into bee time. This paper explores the challenges and complications of our attempts to shift into bee time, to understand (and fail to understand) the material affects of interspecies space/time.
Susan Hauri-Downing is an Australian artist living in Switzerland. She is interested in Biocultural diversity, Biopolitics, Solastalgia and the Intricacy of interspecies relationships. Her work includes explorations of the personal and cultural implications of the global cultivation of native and foreign plant species, including aesthetics; ties to ‘home’; food security; traditional food availability; materials for artifacts; and medicines.
Subversions of Time in (Outer) Space
Outer space, throughout the research and speculation on human spaceflight, is principally constructed as a space of the future. This is not, however, straightforward, nor is it unproblematic. In Space Travel and Culture, David Bell and Martin Parker describe America's Apollo programme as 'a future that never happened, or a history that seems not to connect with our present'. I argue that this convoluted construction of time in space is underlain by heterosexist assumptions about reproductive kinship and normative timelines. Visions of a future in space are often couched in narratives of reproductive heterosexuality, and space programmes both assume this and actively work to replicate such stories. There is a sense of temporal disorientation in the view of a future which has ‘never happened’; however, rather than subverting normative time, this works to root narratives of astronautics in traditional ideals of procreation and family, such as we associate with the era of spaceflight's early heyday. The astronaut’s body is, I argue, primarily conceptualised as a male body, an able body, and a fertile heterosexual body. The nostalgic quality of the complex temporality contributes to the marginalisation of other bodies, while the ideal body (with its near-ideal, and historically excluded, female counterpart) propels narratives of reproductive futures. Within the same temporal inconsistency, however, I argue there is opportunity to reread stories of space exploration to allow better representation of diverse humans, and to imagine manifold presents and futures, both on and off Earth.
I am a second-year PhD researcher in the Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory at Cardiff University. My current project explores sociocultural aspects of outer space exploration, with an emphasis on constructions of the body in astronautics. My research interests broadly centre on embodiment, science and technology, and theories of space and time. More specifically my research has involved gender and LGBT representation, queer temporality, feminist geography, spatial sexualisation, and ideas of health, risk, and the natural.
Key words: astronautics, embodiment, feminism, queer, technology
Living and Dying with the Virus: Necessary Interruptions and Possible Futures.
Viruses in the past, present and future emphasise the ecological embeddedness and entanglement of the human in more-than-human worlds. In my work I use a queer ecological approach that builds on feminist technoscience, ecofeminism, ecological and environmental studies, and queer temporalities. Ecological thinking depends upon complex conceptions of time: vertical generational time and horizontal relational time intersect and are entangled up in multispecies living-with and becoming-with. In fact, living and becoming depend upon these knots of multispecies time in order to flourish. There can be, however, an uninterrogated binary opposition here between life and death, life and non-life, and living and dying. There is also the danger of overemphasising becoming, flourishing and living – which perhaps comes at the expense of unbecoming, failing and dying. With this in mind I will be exploring the virus, both as a material agent and as a figure. I will argue that the virus is interruptive. Viruses interrupt at a cellular level as well as in genomic and evolutionary narratives; interrupt dichotomous understandings of life and death; interrupt health and the ability to live well; and interrupt horizontal generational inheritance and community formation. Thinking through multispecies community and responsibility with the virus involves an alternative relation to time as well as to becoming and unbecoming, flourishing and failing, living and dying. Specifically, the virus illustrates the importance, necessity, but also danger of interrupting temporalities. Thinking with the virus from a queer ecological perspective suggests the necessity of interrupting certain narratives of health, identity and community, as well as demanding that we attempt to imagine and bring about futures with and without the virus. Both living and dying are at stake in our entanglement in more-than-human worlds.
David Andrew Griffiths is a PhD student, currently putting the finishing touches to a multidisciplinary research project within the Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory at Cardiff University and the Centre for the Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics (a research group based at Cardiff and Lancaster University funded as part of the ESRC Genomics Network). The project focuses on the relation between the biological and the social, using resources from feminism, queer theory and evolutionary science. His research interests include gender and sexuality studies; evolutionary science, including non-Darwinian theories of evolution; quantum mechanics and diffraction as a theoretical approach; companion species, symbiogenesis and sociality; and living with parasites and viruses.
keywords: queer, feminism, biology, evolution, science studies, animal studies
Time, Affect and Suicidal Microbes.
According to Jacques Derrida, in the tradition of Western philosophy nonhuman animals don’t have ‘time’. Temporality, which Martin Heidegger associates with auto-affection – giving oneself a presence, would be an exclusive human characteristic. Without access to knowledge and an experience of death as such, animals don’t die; they merely perish, according to Heidegger. Given these assumptions it may not be surprising that until recently marine microbes such as unicellular phytoplankton have been considered immortal unless eaten by predators. Concerns about global climate change however have spurred new research into the lives and ecologies of marine microbes and especially into their potentially beneficial role as carbon dioxide consumers. Assumptions about their atemporal existence are currently in the process of revision. Marine biologists in fact suggest that under specific conditions phytoplankton actively kill themselves. Drawing on new empirical research into programmed cell death in microbes, I explore how an affirmation of phytoplankton’s mortality may reconstruct the relationship between life and death, biological individuality and assumptions about a “natural” teleology. In multicellular animal bodies cell death is associated with a purpose; some individual cells must die in order to keep the organism alive. As long as individual cells are considered parts of a larger system, the organism, their deaths seems to make sense in evolutionary terms. But why would unicellular phytoplankton actively kill themselves? Assuming that microbial populations are composed of competing, selfish individuals, these research findings cease to make sense. Reading this research together with the Derridean move from autoaffection, which forms the basis of selfhood in humans and cells towards heteroaffection that recognizes that death is always internal to life and the ‘other’ always already part of the ‘self’, I explore how the deconstruction of individuality from within biology may suggests alternatives to our anthropocentric notion of time and affectivity in scientific knowledge production.
Astrid Schrader is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Anthropology and STS at York University in Toronto, Canada. She received her PhD in History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, upon completing her dissertation “Dino & Demons: The Politics of Temporality and Responsibility in Science”. Since then, Astrid spent a year as postdoctoral fellow at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University and has been teaching in the Science, Technology, and Society Program at Sarah Lawrence College for the last three years. Astrid’s recent research in Feminist Science Studies has focused on the scientific investigation of toxic marine microorganisms and the environmental problems these ‘harmful algae’ are said to cause. With the help of toxic dinoflagellates, feminist philosopher Karen Barad’s theoretical framework of agential realism and the philosophy of Jacques Derrida, Astrid has been exploring questions of responsibility and agency in scientific knowledge production, new ontologies, the relationship between anthropocentrism and conceptions of time, and environmental justice. Her research has been published in the journals of Social Studies of Science, Environmental Philosophy, and differences (forthcoming). In addition, Astrid has just completed co-editing (with Sophia Roosth) a special issue of the journal differences titled “Feminist Theory out of Science” (to appear in this Fall) that seeks to highlight how close attention to the materialities of scientific practices may inform feminist theories.
from our workshop on Power, Time and Agency held in Manchester, January 2013