Affiliations: Senior Lecturer in the English department at the University of Central Lancashire and Affiliated Fellow at the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies of the School of Advanced Study of London University.
I am a philosopher, working mostly in the history of 19th and 20th century German philosophy, metaphysics and philosophy of language. I am particularly interested in the work of Ernst Bloch, and in the Connected Communities programme I am looking at the relation between ‘community’ and ‘future’ from the perspective of Bloch’s utopian and messianic ontology of the ‘not yet’. For classical metaphysics, community can be said, at the most fundamental level, to be a characteristic of being itself. The paradoxes of community are ontological in nature. Even in Kant’s critique of metaphysics, the fundamental role of the idea of community is maintained in several incarnations (not lastly that of the ‘Reich’ (Kingdom) of Ends as a union of rational beings). In Bloch’s ontology the fundamental role that ‘community’ has played in the history of philosophy is maintained, but enriched with a unique perspective on the part played by the ‘not yet’. This allows us to rethink a range of concepts essential to the life and discourse of communities, including justice, community engagement, freedom and tradition, the relation between the individual and the community and the relation between community (Gemeinschaft) and society (Gesellschaft) in modernity.
I am a Research Associate in Politics at the University of Exeter. The project that I am working on with Dr. Robin Durie and Dr. Katrina Wyatt, titled “Researching with Communities: Towards a Leading Edge Theory and Practice for Community Engagement”, is part of the AHRC led Connected Communities programme. The purpose of our scoping study is to investigate the usefulness of complexity theory for understanding the relations between academic researchers and the public communities they engage with, and more broadly, the conditions for successful community engagement. Challenging traditional conceptions of time is of course a central component of complexity theory. Thus if communities are understood as complex systems, and if complexity represents the most effective means for theorising the connectivity within and between communities and academic researchers, how time is conceived and interacted with will play a crucial role throughout the process of engagement.
Aside from this research project, I am also pursuing my interests in time and communities through a monograph that I am writing for Edinburgh University Press (2012). This book, titled History and Becoming: Deleuze’s Philosophy of Creativity, will examine the work of Deleuze and several of his conceptual forebears (Marx, Nietzsche, Bergson, Péguy and Braudel) in order to address the following problematic: what is the relation between history and the creation of the new? While much work has been done on the importance of Deleuze’s philosophy of time to his political and social philosophy for change, I hope to demonstrate in this book how an appreciation of his philosophy of history is equally indispensable. You can find out more about my work here.
Craig's Lightning Talk:
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
My interest in the workshop stems from my PhD research, which explores how we might approach the idea of ‘feminist history’ from a historiographical perspective that is not bound to a framework of historical totality, linearity or teleology. I am currently trying to work out an understanding of historical time based upon Dipesh Chakrabarty’s concept of ‘heterotemporality’, and Paul Ricoeur’s notion of historical time as a form of public/social time that is constructed through the overlapping of multiple time frames and concepts, including: ‘calendar time’ (the time of dating and periodizations); ‘generational time’ (based upon notions such as ‘legacy’, ‘predecessors’, ‘contemporaries’, and ‘succesors’); ontologies and epistemologies of the past as ‘trace’; and temporal concepts which ‘temporalize’ certain periods of history -or history per se- such as progress, decline, cyclicality or stagnation. These different overlapping ‘strands’ that constitute historical time, I will try to show, are socially and culturally specific, and always open to contestation and refiguration. I will then ask how this idea of historical time might alter how we think about and construct feminist histories. For example: if we work from a model of historical time as multiple or ‘heterotemporal’ (rather than from a model of temporal totality and historical alignment), in what terms can we speak of ‘feminist histories’ as ‘collective’ histories? And how would it affect our notions of historical agency and judgment?
My ideas at the moment are still being developed, so I am really looking forward to learning from all the different participants’ perspectives on social and cultural time.
Victoria's Lightning Talk
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
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’.
In addition to being a theme four member within CRESC I have also been involved in a group exploring issues of spacing, timing and organizing since 1999. This group has a keen interest in how ideas of repetition and difference and stability and change are conceptualised and in recent years there has been more of an emphasis on ideas of images and signs in relation to space and time. In particular, I am interested in how we understand intensities, affect, assemblages and acts of engagement with regards to the process and practices of organizing. My empirical research has been conducted within mental health care in order to explore certain information practices, standards and forms of organizing, as well as a national newspaper printing factory.