I am currently writing up a Ph.D. entitled "From engagement to enforcement and back again; re-claiming community from disappointment and exhaustion", which takes a critical perspective on the interpretation of community and 'informal controls' on behaviour within Anglo-Foucauldian 'governmentality' studies. The PhD builds upon research carried out with 'Friends Groups'; community organisations focused upon particular green spaces. Through the work of Bernard Stiegler and Jacques Rancière the thesis investigates the technical and aesthetic particularities of Friends' practices, before drawing these observations into a theory of community and the 'in-common' in line with Jean-Luc Nancy's concept of the 'inoperative' community.
In my own research temporalities of community formation and retention have been central concerns. A frequent problem for Friends Groups is the difficulty of forming long-term circuits of community involvement from short-term 'threats', while conversely an enduring presence of community is often forged from one-off events. Where groups focus upon the formation of a community presence as a form of behavioural control, this relies upon an authority forged as the temporality of an enduring care for a space. I have sought by looking at Stiegler to examine the technical (the discourses, strategies, plans and calculations that shape community practice) composition of community involvement, examining as such the temporality of community as it is located in technical circuits of care and education.
Sam's Pecha Kucha Presentation
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’.