Change4Life: Calculation, prediction and the future
This paper focuses on the British government’s ongoing attempt to intervene in the predicted obesity crisis through the Change4Life health campaign, ‘a society-wide movement that aims to prevent people from becoming overweight by encouraging them to eat better and move more’ (Department of Health). Drawing on recent analyses of the campaign (Evans 2010, Evans et al 2011, Moor 2011), the paper explores the ways in which Change4Life is organised around particular versions of the future that are brought into the present via predictions, calculations and measurements, and that become materialized as current ways of life. The paper contributes to a renewed interest in time and futures (Adkins 2008, 2009, Adams, Murphy and Clarke 2009, Anderson 2010, 2011, Adam and Groves 2007, Cooper 2006, Coleman 2012) by conceiving time not only in terms of linear progression, butalso as multiple, affective, intensive. Indeed, as Adams et al indicate, contemporary life might be defined in terms of anticipation, where ‘possible futures […] are lived and felt as inevitable in the present’ (2009: 248). If Change4Life is a campaign that aims to bring the future into the present so that the obesity crisis can be intervened in, now, in what ways does it function as a form of anticipatory politics? Or, in Brian Massumi’s terms, how is prediction converted into pre-emption, where the present becomes organised around the future, ‘as if it had already occurred’ (2005: 8)? In this sense, how is politics acting on the future, on time itself? How is time a ma(r)ker of the social, and of social difference? The paper addresses these questions via a concern with the role of measure and valuation in predictions and calculations about the ‘obesity crisis’.
Rebecca Coleman's research interests are in bodies, images, time and futures, and affect. She is currently leading an ESRC Research Seminar Series on 'Austerity Futures? Imagining and Materialising the Future in an "Age of Austerity" which examines possible changes in the ways in which the future is imagined, planned for, worked towards and brought into being. She has recently published Transforming Images: Screens, Affect, Futures (2012, Routledge) which tracks a socio-cultural and bodily imperative for transformation across a range of different screens and considers how images of transformation function affectively through a version of a better future. Also on bodies, images and time is her previous book, The Becoming of Bodies: Girls, Images, Experience (2009, Manchester UP).
Keywords: time and futures; bodies; materialisation; images; affect.
Atheist Temporality: The Generic Force of Atheist Time?
This talk attempts to present a summary of a wider research project on the notion of atheist temporality. In that I paper I will attempt to forge a new understanding of what a contemporary and practical atheism might look. Rejecting the progressive notions of linear temporality, and the historical destiny of scientific materialism, I will argue that we need a revised understanding of temporal and social agency. This will involve a retrieval and engagement with of some of the key insights of Nietzsche, Derrida, Heidegger and Bergson. Beginning with taxonomy of the various types of atheism that I am deviating from, I will then proceed to argue that the condition of identities, ethical agency, and human liberation and political subjectivity relies on a discursive notion of temporality. Such a discursive notion of temporality will depend on re-casting our understanding of chronological time towards ecstatic time, everyday temporality towards authentic and engaged temporality, mechanistic temporality towards embodied temporality, a discourse on life towards a discourse on shared mortality and finitude, and the ethical and political in terms of common temporalities and generic solidarity. This paper will thus attempt to provide in sum, an existential atheistic account of atheist temporality, which will argue for a more radical sense of time, with a view to providing the key ethical and political coordinates which combat ethical and political sectionalisation and marginalization.
Patrick is a Lecturer in Philosophy at Nottingham Trent University. His teaching interests are 20th Century European Philosophy, 20th Century French Philosophy, Ethics, and Philosophy of Religion. His research interests are mainly European Philosophy, Phenomenology, 20th Century French Philosophy and the Philosophy of Education. He has written on Derrida, Agamben, Husserl, Badiou and Lucretius. He has published in the Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, Journal of Cultural Research, Southern Journal of Philosophy and Irish Studies Review. On the relationship between Philosophy and Education he has published in Discourse: Learning and Teaching in Philosophical and Religious Studies as well as contributing to the edited collection Writing in the Disciplines: Building Supportive Academic Cultures for Student Writing. His book Derrida: Profanations was released in 2010 with Continuum Press. In 2012 he co-edited a Special Edition of the Journal of the British Society of Phenomenology on Foucault and the relation between power, pleasure and politics.
This talk considers the ways in which people currently involved in political action in Athens think about the Polytechnic Uprising of 1973. The uprising is an event which is memorialised annually, and part of the dominant narrative of collective history surrounding post-dictatorship Greek 'democracy' and resistance. This talk will focus on the importance of temporality in exploring the ways in which the past acts as a resource for current action, through memory, myth and embodied performances. It will also touch upon the ways in which the position of the uprising within the landscape of political action, has changed over the years; the how it has been embedded in different public discourses and part of the political system that is currently being contested.
Miranda is a Sociology MPhil student at Goldsmiths, looking at how people talk about political subjectivity through participation in memorialised violent events of the past, and how these events are talked about today by people involved in political action.
The Temporal Modes of Maintenance Work
This paper develops a temporal awareness of practices of ‘maintenance’ – practices that seek to sustain the material conditions and the hopes of others, or the belief in anachronistic ideals. It draws on Lauren Berlant’s recent work on ‘cruel optimism’, specifically her analysis of practices such as over-eating that are neither imply acts of resistance to the wearing out of the body brought about by neoliberalism, nor acts of self-destruction, but what Berlant calls ‘suspension’ of the self as a form of self-maintenance. Berlant’s argument is that as the gap between the fantasy of the good life (upward mobility, job security, political and social equality, and lively durable intimacy) and the actual lives we lead have got wider and wider, these acts that suspend the self are forms of maintenance of this frayed fantasy. Maintenance, however, has its own temporal dynamics - it a durational practice, one concerned with the time of suspension, of waiting, of bearing the state of nothing happening, of the inability to bring about tangible or obvious forms of change. Rather than characterizing the time of maintenance as ‘dead’ time, I read Berlant alongside the seminal work of the feminist performance and social artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles. Since the late 1970’s Ukeles has called herself a ‘maintenance artist’, seeking, amongst other things to raise the profile of waste, and also those, such as the City of New York sanitation workers, who work on behalf of the city to process and manage waste. Ukeles links this to a feminist agenda of making visible maintenance work in its temporal dimensions – the ongoing commitment to making the lives of others possible, and to the now ‘anachronistic’ belief in the central role of public institutions in the management of the social fabric. In doing so, Ukeles produces an alternative temporal mode to that of the continuous work time of capitalism, asking us to think again about what has become a degraded object world, and a degraded social system.
Lisa Baraitser joined Birkbeck as a faculty member in 2005, and has been involved in the development of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck since then. Her first degree was in Medical Science and Psychology, followed by a Masters in Counselling and Psychotherapy, and a PhD in Psychology. Between 1995 and 2005 she trained as a psychodynamic counsellor, and worked in NHS and third sector settings, thinking through the psychological ramifications of violence, abuse and poverty in the lives of women. During this time, she was also the Artistic Director of an experimental theatre collective known as PUR. Since taking up an academic position, Lisa has developed research interests in gender and sexuality, motherhood and the maternal, feminist theory, psychoanalysis, and philosophies of ethics, affects, materiality, temporality and event.
Time and Agency in the Global Thought of Li Dazhao
Li Dazhao (1888-1927) is well-known as “China’s first Marxist” and founder of the Chinese Communist Party, but he also offers one of modern China’s most sophisticated understandings of human agency, which he understands as a capacity to transform human and non-human environments through the orientation of one’s self to the dynamic passing of time. This paper uses his thought in two ways. First, I show how Li justifies revolutionary action in an understanding of time as an ontological, non-human force that shapes, but also makes possible, human efforts to change their political and social worlds. Li focuses specifically on transforming whole epochs of shared history through the narration of selective pasts, the mobilization of present energies, and the propulsion of human will through progressive time. Second, following Li’s insistence on the capacity of present action to confound entrenched cultural and historical boundaries, I take Li’s work as a precedent for my own theorizing. Li draws on ancient Chinese cosmology, Daoism, contemporary social Darwinism, the materialism of Henri Bergson, and Marxist historical materialism to show how action in the present has the power not only to shape future outcomes but also to reorder the way we view and use past thought. His eclecticism chastens attempts to ascribe to him a classically Marxist worldview, even as it offers a new way of situating his own work within a refigured, global trajectory of thought that generates its own modes of inquiry. I therefore hope to establish Li as both theorist and example of a truly cross-cultural temporal ideology, which resists identification with parochial Western lineages to orient us toward future possibilities of hybridization.
Leigh Jenco (BA, Bard College; MA and PhD, University of Chicago) since 2012 has been Lecturer in Political Theory at the Department of Government of the London School of Economics and Political Science. She was born near Pittsburgh, PA, USA but has since lived for extended periods in Nanjing, Chicago, Taipei, and Singapore. Before joining LSE she was appointed Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Political Theory Project, Brown University, USA (2007-2008); and Assistant Professor of Political Science at the National University of Singapore (2008-2012). She situates her research and much of her teaching at the intersection of contemporary political theory and modern Chinese thought, emphasizing the theoretical and not simply historical value of Chinese discourses on politics. To that end, she has given talks in English and Mandarin across Asia and North America, and has published articles in journals such as the American Political Science Review, Political Theory, Journal of Asian Studies, and Philosophy East and West.
Keywords: Chinese political thought, comparative political theory, global political theory
In this paper I speak to the interrelation of subjectivity and time, asking “what is the effect of the indefinite length of detention on how asylum seekers construct their identities in Australia?” Goffman describes the reduction of strategies of self-preservation available to the inmates of asylums such as mental institutions and prisons. The ways in which people on the ‘outside’ can offer subtle resistance to unpleasant tasks, by evincing sullenness of expression, muttered comments, and so on, reminiscent of the everyday forms of peasant resistance described by Scott (1987) is more closely monitored inside a total institution (Goffman 1961, p. 41). The importance of effecting small forms of resistance becomes magnified as a method of retaining some degree of autonomy. This analysis sheds light on the behaviour of one man I was visiting in detention. In order to effect the slight feeling of autonomy afforded by minor resistances, he no longer participated in what Goffman calls removal activities, activities such as excursions, field games and the like, which are intended to make the inmate oblivious for a time to the inexorable passage of institutional time. However Goffman’s comment on removal activities “if the ordinary activities in total institutions can be said to torture time, these activities mercifully kill it” (p. 67), relies on an assumption that the inmates know when they will be released. The sometimes hourly count of time until their release date is unavailable to asylum seekers in detention. This opens up to critical theorising the relation between subjectivity and time, through Grosz’s critical re-understandings of the relation between the two that show clearly that the two are bound up in each other (Grosz 2005).
Laurel Mackenzie is a PhD candidate writing on the question of how refugees and asylum seekers in Australia construct their identities, using a narrative research methodology that relies on an intersubjective approach to the hermeneutic phenomenological analysis of interviews with research participants. She currently works as an associate Lecturer in RMIT's School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, teaching an undergraduate course in social constructionism. Her research interests include Critical Theory, Gender Studies, Post colonialism, Phenomenology, and Language and Identity.
Ethnography of Waiting in Line for Night Clubs in Tel-Aviv: Time, Emotions, and Inequality with Avi Shooshna (Bar-Ilan University)
The following paper explores the temporal dimensions and manifestations of ethnic discrimination and oppression. The relations between inequality, waiting, and emotions are surveyed based on ethnography of waiting in line to get into night clubs in Tel-Aviv (Israel). Previous studies (Bitton, 2011)have shown that in certain trendy clubs the waiting time for entry can range between an hour to an hour and a half and those who often do not pass the selection process are those marked as "ethnic" or "orientals" ( Jews from Arab countries). Drawing upon ethnographic fieldwork, the findings of our research display multiple temporalities and temporal orientations. Our findings suggest that there are dramatic differences in the waiting experiences and temporal orders among subjects of European origin and Oriental ones. The first among them is "Party Time" Vs. "Prison Time. Those of European descent report that waiting time is considered part of the “foreplay” (as one of the interviewees has put it) before entering the club. Waiting time is described as time that passes quickly, mainly through interactions with friends who are also standing in line. By contrast, the waiting experience of the Oriental subjects is a slow one and is embedded with tension, alertness, uncertainty, and shame. The passage of time is described by them as “frozen time”, “nigger time”, and is especially experienced as “prison time”. Indeed, as Bourdieu (2000) has elaborated, the art of making people wait is an integral part of the exercise of power. In addition, we have also found that by “doing time” the oriental subjects attempt to “become white” by covering up and removing any of their ethnic features. In a sense, the effects of waiting time render the oriental selves as hyper-visible to themselves and others and construe the waiting line as an important site of interpellation (Althusser 1971). In conclusion, this pattern of ethnic queuing exemplifies Schwartz’s (1975) assertion that the distribution of waiting time coincides with the distribution of power and thereby produces and maintains differential access to power and privilege.
Kinneret Lahad is an associate professor lecturer at the NCJW Program of Gender and Women’s Studies at Tel-Aviv University. Broadly defined, her areas of interest include: theorizing singlehood, sociology of time, the cultural sociology of the family, feminist cultural studies, sociology of emotions and cyber culture. She is also working on a book that aims to develop a theoretical and critical analysis of singlehood in contemporary culture. She teaches various graduate and undergraduate courses and research seminars ranging from feminist cultural studies, sociology of gender and family life, media representations of romance, the study of singlehood and the sociology of time.
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
Temporal Mastery: sleeping in the ‘glacial’ psychiatric ward
Temporal mastery has been described as a ‘primordial human need’ (Gibson). This presentation will draw a thread from the depiction of the futility of attempts to master time in Tolkein’s The Hobbit through to the use of sleep as an attempt to assert individual temporal mastery on acute psychiatric wards. Temporal mastery is viewed as an individual need, but assertion may not always lie within our power. In some contexts, such as hospital wards, collective temporalities are imposed and these may not align with the individual or indeed with a traditional clock based temporality. In particular, when the metric of time is used as a punishment an imposed temporality may generate tension between the individual ‘primordial need’ and the collective interests and attempts to assert the individual mastery may subvert the collective. Moreover, in closed societies collective temporalities may seem shared, as in the example used here of the routines of wards rounds and mealtimes, but beneath the surface these can be fractured and multiple temporalities generated by differing world views. A study of high secure wards suggested that for staff temporality was largely situated within the present and understood by shift patterns, but for patients temporality was longer-term and driven by the future expected stay. The ‘instantaneous’ and ‘glacial’ notions of time offer useful lenses to explore temporal mastery in this context and this presentation will aim to provide a journey through these landscapes and raise the question of what tensions emerge from attempts at temporal mastery between the individual and collective.
I am currently a PhD student at the University of Manchester exploring cultural participation and mental health. I have worked in the mental health and addictions fields for the last fifteen years in a range of roles, including research and development.
'Becoming queer children: The heterochronology of sexual citizenship, and homonormative temporalities of resistance.'
Citizenship discourse is invariably grounded in the language of progressive futurity. According to Edelman (2005), this emphasis on futurity is projected onto the discursively non-negotiable figure of the child. However, this paper seeks to discuss how the queer child disrupts this account of the child as a proto-sexual, proto-citizen. What are the temporalities of the queer child? Recently, much critical attention has been paid to the tacit heteronormativity encoded in dominant contemporary discourses of time and citizenship. Subjects with non-normative sexualities have had an uncomfortable relationship with time since the emergence of early sexological accounts situated us as the casualties of arrested or incomplete development. Halberstam (2005), Ahmed (2006) and Freeman (2010) have addressed how queer subjects’ experiences of time can radically subvert or disorient heteronormative accounts of subject formation, by problematising the cultural significance of inheritance, intergenerational exchange, and rites of passage. If heteronormative rites of passage such as marriage and reproduction enable the individual to suture his or herself to society through entering into intergenerational contracts of investment and return, what temporalities can queer bodies occupy? This paper seeks to address the ways sexuality influences how (or whether) we become citizen subjects. Whilst acknowledging heteronormative developmental chronologies as mechanisms for policing citizenship, this paper will focus on the destabilising role of the queer child as ‘becoming-citizen’. Stockton (2009) has described the figure of the queer child as always already a retrospectively constructed from a queer adult subject position. However, what happens when queer children are more vocal social agents at younger ages, and begin to express their own homonormative accounts of becoming sexual citizens? This paper will discuss these temporalities of resistance as they are performed by young queer subjects themselves.
I am a PhD student at Cardiff University co-supervised between the School of Social Sciences and the Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory. My thesis is about the ways queer young people in Wales (aged 16-25) negotiate the concept of maturity in relation to ideas about community and identity. I'm a member of the Young Sexualities research group, and my research interests include homonormativities, queer phenomenology and queer temporalities, participatory methodologies and community engagement.
from our workshop on Power, Time and Agency held in Manchester, January 2013