I am developing new ideas for a post-globization ethics – an eco/alter ethics. Using ideas rooted in the work of Emmanuel Levinas, I am developing theory for “receptive affection” in which the world creates possibility to make time and space for what is ‘other’ than the desires satisfied by the social and political economy of market liberalism. The pace of economic productivity and development moves at a speed that has little time or space for the rhythms of the natural body and the time it needs to regenerate. The ‘time out’ to care, heal and repair, when it does not exclude, exploit or marginalize, can then take on a diversity of socio-political expression. Patience is the resistance that can pause and wait (a ‘making of time’) despite the imperatives for speed and efficiency. Generosity is the extension of self to alter-positions – others – in which one ‘makes room’ for what remains in marginalized and excluded spaces, in which receptive affections manifest as the ‘welcome’ and the ‘gift.’ A language that seeks world habitability and respect for what is already ‘rooted’ is what I hope emerges out of these efforts, thinking of this also as a post-Holocaust ethics.
I am an Associate Professor of Philosophy at The College of New Rochelle and Chair of Philosophy and Religious Studies. I have my Ph.D from The New School for Social Research. My work is in Continental Philosophy, particularly in Phenomenology and Ethics. I have written on Levinas, Heidegger, and Arendt. My teaching expertise is in feminist theory, environmental ethics and I use critical pedagogy in my Philosophy of Education curriculum. I am beginning to develop and research in disability theory.
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
“Homo Ludens, Meet Homo Faber”: Hope, Power, and Resources in the African Post-Colony.
In my ethnographic fieldwork in São Tomé and Príncipe (STP), a small African Atlantic island state and former Portuguese colony, I frequently encountered the notion that “Santomeans do not work.” This assertion had particular weight in the light of impending offshore oil production. Excessive expectations and so-called rent seeking, taking the place of productive labour, were feared to be the inappropriate responses to future wealth. The hope for “unearned” wealth and prosperity, more generally, has come to be seen as a problem in many post-colonial settings shaped by resource extraction, but this problem has remained remarkably unquestioned. This paper does two things. First, it examines the widespread efforts by international agencies to manage expectations and channel hope in STP, for example, through public awareness campaigns and civil society building. I argue that the politics of anticipation implemented, here, seeks to effect a particular kind of temporal disposition toward oil decidedly different from the “hopeful” practices of ordinary and not-so-ordinary Santomeans. Second, I show that in order to fully comprehend the problem of hope in STP, and specifically of hope as practical engagement between people, resources and the non-human world, we need to trace its historical antecedents. I suggest that the methodological response to the Santomean problem of hope should be not psychology, sociology, or economics but ontological critique. Freed slaves refusing plantation labour and citizens destroying crops intended to support the population of a newly independent state seem to express forms of agency (through rejection or spoilage) and temporal affects (hope but also dejection) specific to different extractive environments. My analysis draws on critical temporalities and anthropology to tease out the emergent orientations in time – time experienced not neutrally but always suffused by power – across these colonial and postcolonial moments.
Gisa Weszkalnys is lecturer in anthropology at the London School of Economics. She has conducted research on natural resource development, interdisciplinary research practices, and the cultural politics of urban planning. Her books include Berlin, Alexanderplatz: Transforming Place in a Unified Germany (2010) and Elusive Promises: Planning in the Contemporary World (2013, coedited with Simone Abram). Her current work examines the temporality and materiality of oil exploitation in the Gulf of Guinea.
Keywords: politics of anticipation, hope, materiality, natural resources, temporal affects
My fieldsite Hoyerswerda, Germany’s fastest shrinking city, is known as a city with “no hope” and “no future”. However, what at first looks like the failed transition of a former socialist model city hit by a neo-liberally orchestrated globalization soon provides the context for an unexpected variety of experiences of – and relations to – many different pasts and futures. Indeed, multiple temporal connotations structure local conflicts and their passionate social negotiation. This presentation tracks how some local groups successfully challenge the local government’s “enforced presentism”. Most importantly, in their strive for reclaiming the future, these groups do not replace this neo-liberal “enforced presentism” with some form of “enforced futurism”. Rather, they conceptually open up a space beyond shrinkage and its widely felt and feared social, economic and political repercussions. With the help of my ethnographic material, I show how citizens of Hoyerswerda in their everyday socio-cultural practices thus overcome both, the temporal regime of the post-socialist transformation and the temporal order of neo-liberalism. I posit several examples of their multiple and conflicting temporal practices as indicative of a surprising flexibility in the way my informants through their knowledge practices exist – and reach out – in time. Whilst developing the category of “creative presentism”, I provide a thoroughly anthropological view on time. Through the lens of the currently emerging anthropology of the future, I conceptualise time as a theoretical, analytical and methodological issue of knowledge, which in turn is understood less as culture and more as situated and locally relevant practice. I particularly attend what currency hope and the future, rather than the past, have in local concerns and in human life more generally. As my approach tries to account for the variety of human temporal relations, it will also critically engage with the sometimes misleading term of temporality.
I have recently gained my PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge, for which I undertook 16 months of fieldwork in the East German city of Hoyerswerda, Germany's fastest shrinking city. As a post-doctoral researcher and lecturer at the University of Vienna, I continue to work on the issues of knowledge and time. My primary research focus is on how people envision the future once it has been rendered problematic in times of dramatic demographic and socio-economic change. I will soon commence research on the relation between the notion of sustainability and urban regeneration of post-industrial cities in Europe.
from our workshop on Power, Time and Agency held in Manchester, January 2013