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 am a sociologist based at the Institute of Public Health in Cambridge. My PhD, completed at Goldsmiths, London in 2009, was structured around an ethnographic study of community mental health professionals based in an inner-city borough. Here in Cambridge I am currently engaged in implementing a further small scale, effectively one-person qualitative research project. This takes as its focus a large ongoing population-based, scientific study around genetic and lifestyle factors associated with diabetes and obesity.
There are clearly great differences between these two research landscapes. Yet in each, notions of community and time have played a major role – both in terms of various actors’ explicit articulations of what they are about, and my doubtless often quixotic attempts to discern fresh patterns and insights from their interaction. Despite each concept being taken as the target of philosophical unpacking over recent decades, I have the sense that both time and community are often still too often take-for-granted as self-evident parameters of analysis within much contemporary social science. Whereas a consistent thread within my own thinking involves following the lead of writers like Whitehead and Bergson in probing and destabilising such assumptions, particularly in the case of time.
This is one reason why I’m excited by the coupling of the two notions in the title of the workshop and their problematisation as its theme. I’m intrigued by the formatting of the event and the opportunities presented for the cross-fertilisation of ideas. Manchester in June – who wouldn’t be up for it!
Paul's Lightning Talk
Fiona Shirani (Cardiff University)
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 am Research Fellow at the ESRC Third Sector Research Centre, University of Birmingham. I work on two projects: the Real Times qualitative longitudinal study, which examines the continuity and change of third sector organisations over time, and the pilot ‘Street-Walking’ mapping project that aims to find groups and activities that go unregistered (and, subsequently, tend to be neglected in the policy field). By third sector we tend to mean a diverse range of non-profit activities undertaken beyond the market and the state, for example, by charities, social enterprises and less formal community-based groups and associations.
My doctoral thesis was on the third sector’s engagement with government employment initiatives (Sociology, University of Manchester). Before this, I worked on a three-year project that examined the extent of (funding) crises in women’s voluntary organisations. Years later, recalling the frustrations of compiling (often dated) directories in which organisations were pre-defined, I developed TSRC’s ‘Street-Walking Mapping’ pilot study to look beyond formal organisations with institutional structures (that appear on regulatory lists).
With an attempt to suspend definition and preconceived ideas of what these activities might look like, geographic boundaries were used to manage the project. As the title suggests, the project involves going out on the streets in search of (third sector) social activities and groups that use shared space – many of which may not have a name or explicit structure. Understanding community and ‘shared’ space are important features of the research, including the role of space in bringing people together and the tensions that can play out.
Yuwei Lin - University of Salford
I'm Lecturer in Future Media in the School of Media, Music and Performance at the university of Salford. Trained to be a sociologist who largely uses qualitative research methodologies and methods and experienced in interdisciplinary research, my main work has investigated user participatory cultures and community-based innovation, especially the socio-technical dynamics in those communities that develop open source technologies and services (hardware and/or software). Membership of these open innovation communities is usually loosely defined, such that whoever share the same interest or a constellation of practices (in the sense of “a community of practice”) can be part of the community. Interactions in these communities are often socio-technical: members not only interact with each other but also with technologies (software, source code, infrastructures, computers, hardware). Also, members of these communities usually are not constrained by geographical locations. As such, inventing, adopting and learning to manipulate new information and communication technologies to facilitate collaboration and communication between members is key to the success of community building. Time is an interesting element in these communities in several aspects and through this workshop I am hoping to develop methodologies and conceptual frameworks for understanding the role of time in this body of work.
Yuwei's Lightning Talk
Lee Gregory - Cardiff University
I am a PhD student at Cardiff University, School of Social Sciences. Prior to this I have been a community worker involved in a range of local community strategies and initiatives within the constituency. My current research explores the uses of community currencies to develop co-production in community health care initiatives. The form of currency being used is time-based and it is from my interest in community development and my interest in the application of the social theory of time to time banking (as a local currency) that I approach this workshop.
This workshop seems to build on the current understanding that time remains under-theorised in our conceptions of community and community practice. The workshop provides an opportunity to bring time into theoretical and practical considerations of community. The integration of time and community will require that we reposition our theories of community, participation, well-being, policy and welfare; but needs to be guided by analysis of how time is used. Time-based practices alter our relationships to our communities (through inclusion and exclusion), towards institutions, how we organise social relationship and how we value activities. The workshop offers an opportunity to engage in some of these key discussions from across academia to consider how the use of time shapes our community lives, institutions and activities: to consider how time exchanges develop different approaches to cohesion and become a resource of community regeneration, health and well-being.
Lee's Pecha Kucha Presentation
Gary Graham - University of Leeds
As a member of the CRESC my work takes a time-series perspective to researching the changing role of community news media in a digital age. My work adopts a multi-disciplinary approach combining sociology, supply chain management, journalism and digital economics. The research question relates to how local communities will receive their news in the future. I prefer discursive and narrative-based research methods and this will be my approach to this workshop.
I am a social geographer engaged in interdisciplinary research and based at the University of Aberdeen. Currently I am based in the dot.rural digital economy research hub, which reflects my interest in rural and peripheral areas, and in July I move to the Gaelic department at the University to pursue my interest in the social geographies of the Celtic languages. I gained a PhD (geography) from the university of Aberdeen in 2009. My doctoral research examined the social identities of Gaelic speakers employed in the Gaelic language industries in scotland. In the course of exploring issues of community, identity and difference with Gaelic speakers in Scotland, I have observed a temporal dimension at work. The increasing hybridity of the 'Gaelic speech community', itself connected to processes of de- and re-territorialisation, is disrupting previously taken-for-granted notions of Gaelic speakers sharing a common past or shared future. This workshop topic challenges me to better conceptualise and attend to the role of temporality in negotiations of belonging within the Gaelic speech community. It raises questions over how memory, inheritance, inter-generationality and tradition are worked to legitimise some Gaelic-speaking identities, but disavow others. As well as provoking new ways of understanding identity formation/ascription, this also raises questions over how differential histories of places are reproduced to support particular claims for Gaelic language promotion and government support. I think the workshop represents an opportunity for me to start grappling with non-linear notions of time and community in this minority language context.
Marsaili's Pecha Kucha Talk