I’m a sociologist currently lecturing at Newcastle University. I have a background in cultural theory and an enduring interest in environmental utopianism. I’m particularly concerned with what utopian fiction can contribute to debates about better futures with nature. Seen as expressions of desire for something different and better, rather than simply structural blueprints, utopian narratives can open up critical and creative spaces for imagining otherness and social change.
The disruptive temporalities offered by utopian thinking are more necessary than ever in relation to contemporary environmental problems and politics. Dominant climate change discourses work with a limited set of temporal repertoires: rational modelling and prediction, popular catastrophism, individual techniques of carbon counting and self-discipline. In these contexts, the capacity to imagine and hope for better social-natural futures seems to be receding. The emphasis is on preserving existing social arrangements and relationships rather than responding to how notions of community might be generatively challenged by bringing nature into matters of ethics, politics and human well-being.
I hope this workshop will help develop my thinking about the powerful resources offered by utopianism, its capacity to critique the present and stimulate affective and experiential engagements with alternative temporalities and different kinds of community. And I hope to learn more about how these ideas might connect with diverse research on time and community, especially approaches that cross boundaries between the humanities and social sciences.
I am a PhD student in my third year at the School of Sociology of the University of Nottingham. My research project looks at so-called sub-Saharan African transit migrants in Morocco. The ethnographic fieldwork (2009-2010) included participant observation and interviews with over 40 migrants in Rabat, as well as documentary analysis and interviews with relevant policy makers. Before starting my PhD, I have worked for over 10 years as research assistant, evaluator and development worker in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Maghreb.
My interest in theories on time and space is related to my attempts to explain the state of limbo that migrants in Morocco are experiencing. During my fieldwork I became aware of the negative consequences this has on migrants’ lives. I suspect that “feeling stuck” is a common feature of many migrants’ lives- and not limited to those that are so-called “transit migrants”. Social theories on time and space are helpful in explaining and describing what this actually means both for migrants and the communities they are part of.
Through the workshop, I would like to learn more about the ways in which theories of time can be linked to mobility, migrants’ rights and transnationalism. I am also interested in finding out more about the gendered aspects of time and how they relate to migrants life.
Inka's Lightning Talk
I approach the theorizing of ‘temporality’ and ‘community participation’ both from practice and for practice. Specifically my background is in coordinating community participation/ ‘co-production’ projects in the museum and heritage sector and, more recently, merging these techniques with those associated with participatory action research and inclusive research.
A dominant political impulse in theorizing museums and heritage community engagement has been critical and has tended to draw on hegemony as a key theoretical political framework (e.g. Smith 2004; 2006; Smith and Waterton 2010; Lynch and Alberti 2010). In the light of existing work in museums and heritage studies and on participative and inclusive research, I’m currently interested in developing a temporalisation of community participation which might neither under- nor over-burden collaborative practice. In approaching this I am interested in how there might be productive ‘partial connections’ (Strathern 1999) drawn between the multiple temporalities of history as ‘conditions of possibility’ and the phenomenology or non-representational (Thrift 2007) nature of ‘the encounter’. To put it another way, in the context of ‘community participation’ how does time relate to ‘scale’?
During my time at Sheffield Hallam University (Centre for Education and Inclusion Research) I have been involved in a variety of research projects broadly connected with the wellbeing of young people and/or lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) communities (regarding health inequalities, health related education/services, and so on). As a Sociologist, I am particularly interested in the social influences on wellbeing (e.g. experiences of heterosexism and homophobia, perceptions of ‘belonging’ and ‘acceptance’, etc.), and specifically the relationship between sexual identities and perceptions and experiences of ‘community’, and the implications of this for health and wellbeing. Within this, changing experiences over time become important: growing (legal) equality in the UK for LGBT communities contrasts starkly with experiences among older LGBT groups who may have experienced criminalisation and/or ‘treatment’ for their sexual identity and/or practices. How do these historical contexts (still) affect people’s ongoing identity development and expression, their wider wellbeing / ‘quality of life’, and the development and experience of ‘community’ and ‘connectivity’ more generally (including political activism, ‘scene’ spaces, and forms of social support)? I am interested in exploring these ideas with regard to broader social wellbeing – which my lightning talk will address – and within the context of wider debates about socio-cultural change, community connectivities, and temporal belongings.
Slides from Eleanor's Lightning Talk
I am a Lecturer in Communication and Media Studies at Loughborough University. I joined the Department of Social Sciences on completion of my PhD in the summer of 2007 and have recently been appointed as Assistant Editor of the journal Media, Culture and Society. My research interests include the mediation of time and memory but extend more generally into cultural consumption, media reception and the politics of representation in everyday life. My concern with time and community emerges from the ongoing research project Media of Remembering (conducted with Professor Michael Pickering and Dr Nicola Allett) funded by the Leverhulme trust, which explores how people belonging to different social and cultural groups within local communities develop remembering practices using commonplace media technologies. This work has developed our thinking about time and community in a number of ways. Firstly, communication and representation seem to us to be at the heart of community’s construction and negotiation of time and their experiences of it. Secondly, in working with different ethnic minority and local communities, spatial and temporal disruptions and dislocations have frequently been central to their collective experience. Social remembering practices and cultural memory resources have emerged as crucial in navigating these experiences. Thirdly, even in what may seem to be the most personal of memories, the marks of social experience and notions of community seem to be in play. In this sense we have been thinking about the time of individuals and time of communities as mutually constitutive.
Slides from Emily's Lightning Talk
Educated in Russia and in England (Philosopher’s Diploma, St. Petersburg State University and PhD in Philosophy, Centre for Professional Ethics, UCLAN), Elena Fell has an insider’s view of two distinct cultures, which helps her to grasp the specificity of intercultural communication and communication between diverse communities. Elena’s research project which will explore the relationship between communities and the future (carried out jointly with Dr Johan Siebers as Principal Investigator) will naturally follow from her longstanding interest in the philosophy of time, self and communication. In her PhD thesis Elena explored Bergson’s theory of duration and prepared ground for its further development. After completing her PhD Elena has worked as a Research Assistant at the School of Journalism, Media and Communication, University of Central Lancashire. She is also Editorial Assistant for Empedocles: European Journalfor the Philosophy of Communication.
My involvement in the scoping study on Communities and Future has just began, so the workshop will be an opportunity to gain inspiration for myself and to share with others my previous research findings on time, history and selfhood.
Elena's Lightning Talk
I am a lecturer in political theory at the University of Leeds. My own research has focused on the problem of account for political community in conditions of moral and cultural diversity and conflict. To engage with this problem, I’ve tried in my work to elaborate a ‘narrative conception’ of community that conceives of communities as temporally extended shared lives that conform to different sorts of narrative patterns. I hope that the workshop will help me to broaden my sense of the connections between community and time and further to problematize the approach I’ve hitherto deployed.
Derek's Lightning Talk
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
I am a post-grad student and part-time (philosophy) lecturer at Staffordshire University. By the time of the workshop I will have submitted by PhD thesis. This thesis is an attempt to explain the mergence of social order from the joint perspectives of contemporary French philosophy and complexity theory. I have had the opportunity to undertake a small research project (in partnership with my supervisor) that attempted to apply some of my researching findings to a practical situation – a local regeneration project. I also have been in contact with other research groups that have been researching community regeneration and sustainability from the perspective of complexity theory. Prior to undertaking this research I was employed in the social sector. My experience of working towards the last government’s ‘social inclusion’ agenda, and my realisation that it was not premised on any firm theory, greatly influence my research topic. The interconnection of time and the emergence of social order/structure goes to the very core of my research; I argue that ontologically they are the same – that order is born from the same repetitions that give birth to time – or more accurately times. From my perspective a singular, objective ‘time’ is a (pragmatic) codification of a plural temporality.
Kelvin's Lightning Talk
I am a Sociologist at Newcastle, taking up a new post at Warwick in July. My PhD research developed an account of biopolitics and cultures of life, considered in terms of structures and innovations in experience (Biopolitical Experience: Foucault Power & Positive Critique forthcoming 2011, Palgrave).
I argue (drawing especially on Foucault but also Arendt, Benjamin, Simmel and Deleuze) that ideas and imageries of life, lived experience, vitality, growth and evolution are immensely important for the affective force and allure of community-making/authority-making discourses in the contemporary societies. This importance can be understood, in part, as a reconstitution of a qualitatively rich, deep, temporality - or duration/duree - in the present passing moment. Life constitutes a kind of immanent-transcendent plane in which the present moment becomes a quasi-infinite, qualitatively rich, duration (a duration extending through space rather than time, through present affective influence and connections).
With the idea of 'immanent authority' a group of us (the Authority Research Network) are attempting to articulate and explore the intersection of duration-making, experience in the duree, and community making, in the present (and modern) context of radical finitude and contingency. We draw upon classic theories of authority, which suggest that authority makes community by connecting people to a foundational past, and (with a range of post-strucutralist and cultural theorists) consider how similar processes operate in a present that knows no such past. We are undertaking a Connected Communities Scoping Study called ‘Immanent Authority and the Making of Community’.