New Project: Transforming Atmospheric Authority: Experimental Embodiments in the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro (2019-2021)
This is a UK Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project, led by ARN members Julian Brigstocke and Claire Blencowe, with Rio de Janeiro based researchers Joanna Garcia and Rosana Morgado, in collaboration with the NGO Redes da Maré.
Working with women living in an informal urban community ('favela') that suffers high levels of stigma, poverty, violence, and human rights abuses, our project explores the role played by favela dwellers in challenging and transforming the sometimes stifling emotional atmospheres of the city. The project explores how embodied, non-representational creative
practices can enable distressing experiences to be communicated, shared, and creatively transformed. Developing participatory research methods that aim to foster dignity and tackle feelings of isolation and alienation, we focus on women's encounters with the varied atmospheres of the favela: sometimes tense, stifling, or terrifying; often, simultaneously, full of warmth, security, and humour. Working to recognise, affirm, and amplify creative practices through which women in the community are already seeking to overcome feelings of stress and isolation, our research explores how embodied cultural practices can help women develop new understandings and insights into the issues facing them, and reduce barriers to participation in community leadership and advocacy. Our research practices aim to enable emerging understandings to be articulated, shared, and translated into practices that work to reduce violence and promote dignity and community authority.
Naomi Millner: Collaborations in the Maya Forest
On study leave in late 2016 Naomi Millner returned to the Maya Biosphere Reserve in the Petén region of Guatemala, to finish a collaboration begun with the support of an ESRC IAA secondment. The broader project has brought together scientists and social scientists from a range of disciplines, together with international, national and non-governmental forestry organisations, to investigate community managed forestry. The team have focused on two regions (the Petén in Guatemala, and the North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RAACN) in Nicaragua) where communities have been harvesting timber (especially mahogany) and non-timber products using practices for sustainability for more than 25 years. The project team found that, in the Guatemalan case, the regulations and practices in place were supporting effective regeneration of trees and biodiversity protection, as well as enabling 20 communities to derive a livelihood that moved them above the poverty line. Naomi’s work on the project has focused on the cultural-environmental histories and organisational arrangements that have enabled this success. However, there are important issues for the future including the successional training of young people, many of whom hope to move to the city, as well incipient private interests in the publicly-owned land.
In the Nicaraguan case meanwhile, forest management plans were shown to be almost redundant due to political issues surrounding the titling of indigenous lands, illegal logging, and organisational structures. As part of her secondment, Naomi has been supporting the development of impact pathways for these results, to enable these results to be integrated into future planning in both contexts, as well as to influence policy and practice surrounding community forestry more generally. The team released a short film and eight (Spanish language) policy briefings summarising these findings in both countries in January this year, through meetings with local communities, regional organisations and national government representatives. Naomi hopes to keep working with community partners on a ‘Forest Lab’ that integrates training young people in a range of research methods with ongoing monitoring of deforestation and sustainable practices.
Interesting blog post by Keith Lyons on Leila Dawney and Emma Uprichard's publication https://keithlyons.me/blog/2017/01/06/entangled-narratives-sport-performance-analysis-and-sport-performance-analytics/
Co-producing worlds, co-producing politics
The Authority Research Network spent seven days retreating in the spectacular Beara peninsula, West Cork, Ireland. Stationed in Bothar Buí from June 4th-11th we read, discussed and wrote about the cruelty of attachment, the possibilities for more-than-human collaboration in capitalist ruins, and the re-enchantment of hopeful (humanist?) politics at a time when surviving seems to mark the limit of what is thought possible. These themes, and the tensions between them, will be the scaffolding of a forthcoming collection of essays entitled: ‘Problems of Hope’. We hope to have it finished by the autumn.
The readings we discussed included:
Day # 1 Co-producing more-than-human worlds
* Chapter 5 from Cruel Optimism, Lauren Berlant, 2011
* Part I from The Mushroom at the End of the World, Anna Tsing, 2016
Day # 2 Co-producing ethics/politics
* Chapter 4 from The Spirit of Revolution Beyond the Dead Ends of Man, Cornell & Seely, 2016
* Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power OR Interview (‘Re-enchanting Humanism’) with Sylvia Wynter
* Star, S. L., & Bowker, G. C. (2007). Enacting silence: Residual categories as a challenge for ethics, information systems, and communication. Ethics and Information Technology, 9(4), 273-280.
* Chapter 'On Writing' from Light in the Dark, Anzaldua, 2015
* Marie-Pier Boucher (2012), Infra-Psychic Individualization: Transductive Connections and the Genesis of the Living Techniques. in A. De Boever, A. Murray, J. Roffe, A. Woodward (Eds.) Gilbert Simondon. Being and Technology. Edinburgh University Press.
On participatory turn as a global multisite construction place:
Remaking Participation: Science, Environment and Emergent Publics 2016 Edited by Jason Chilvers, Matthew Kearnes
On Commons & Infrastructure:
Lauren Berlant paper based on AAG keynote, ‘The Commons: Infrastructures for Troubling Tiimes’, 2015.
On materializing justice:
* Papadopoulos, D. (2012). Worlding justice/commoning matter. Occasion: interdisciplinary studies in the humanities, 3(1).
As part of our project on Participation's "Others": A Cartography of Creative Listening Practices, Julian Brigstocke and Tehseen Noorani have edited a special forum on More-than-human Attunement in the new Association of American Geographers journal GeoHumanities.
GeoHumanities Forum on AttunementPosthuman Attunements: Aesthetics, Authority and the Arts of Creative Listening by Julian Brigstocke and Tehseen Noorani
Aesthetics, Politics, and Attunement: On Some Questions Brought by Alterity and Ontology by Mark Jackson
Open Access: Ecological Attunement in a Theological Key: Adventures in Antifascist Aesthetics by Claire Blencowe
Public Attunement with More-than-Human Others: Witnessing the Life and Death of Bear 71 by Gwendolyn Blue
The Making of the Brave Sheep or … the Laboratory as the Unlikely Space of Attunement to Animal Emotions by Mara Miele
African Orature as Ecophilosophy: Tuning in to the Voices of the Land by Anatoli Ignatov
Forum on Attunement: Practices and CurationsOpen Access: Exhausted Futures by Julian Brigstocke
Claire Blencowe, 2016
GeoHumanities - part of the Forum on Attunement
This article embarks on adventures in search of antifascist aesthetics—an excursion born of despair at the increasingly racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim poison of our political ground. It asks whether ecological attunement can provide a counter to such capitalist sorcery and barbarism. The article draws on feminist philosophy of science, new materialism, and ecofeminism. What, it asks these guides, can ecological attunement offer to the task of composing antifascist, anticapitalist political subjectivity or shattering the reality principle of the “no alternative”? Among the responses to that question are certain ideas that we might call theological figurations—figures that open onto the theological task of questioning the value of values, and the political task of mustering spirit. Centering on an attempt to think with Stengers, the article turns to three such figures: the enchantress, the witch, and the intrusion of Gaia. It asks how these figures might succeed and fail in speaking to a popular politics that could lift our despair.
Authority & Political Technologies 2016: Biopolitical Matters
What is biopolitics today? What are its discontents? Is there life after biopolitics?
University of Warwick, June 13-14
This event is free but online registration is essential. Deadline for registration June 6th
Kathryn Yusoff, Queen Mary: Geopower: biopolitics and matter after life
Celia Lury, Warwick: Better than you: a topological imaginary
Didier Fassin, Princeton IAS: The Rise - and Fall? - of Carceral Society
Organizers Claire Blencowe, Amy Hinterberger & Illan Wall
Special Panel: Racialised (in)securities: race and migration in ‘post-racial’ global politics
Chaired by Hidefumi Nishiyama
Technology and Authority, Network Organising and Resistance reading group
GETS - GRUPO DE ESTUDOS EM ESTÉTICA, TÉCNICA E SOCIEDADE Universidade Federal da Paraíba (João Pessoa)
CNPq - Brazilian National Research and Development Council
Aecio Amaral has launched a reading group on Technology and Authority, Network Organization and Resistance, at the Universidade Federal da Paraíba, Brazil.
The reading group will explore the link between technology and authority. Its epochal reference is the cybernetic and computational turn in governmentality, or what has been named algorithmic governmentality (Antoinette Rouvroy). Part of contemporary social theory and political philosophy has been discussing the impact of tele-statistic systems of collection, processing, and framing of big data over domains such as sovereign decision-making, security, and capital reproduction. It is assumed that these informational systems give rise to an apparatus of modelling reality based on prediction and pre-emption of individual behaviour, something propitiated by the strong pervasivity of data mining either within the making of self-identity or the molecular heritage. In a range of events, political or economic authority no longer rely on summoning the individual as subject of law (whose individuality used to be inter-subjectively constituted and based on a discourse ethics). Authority now works at the level of pre-individual potentiality.
Space, Power and the Commons: The Struggle for Alternative Futures, edited by Sam Kirwan, Leila Dawney and Julian Brigstocke
RGS Conference 2015
A number of ARN members participated in this year’s Annual Conference of the Royal Geographical Society / Institute of British Geographers:
Julian Brigstocke presented a paper on ‘Enfolded Futures’ in a session on Suspending the Anthropocene: Impasse, Lost Futures, Déjà vu. He also presented a paper on’Biopolitical Authority, Laughter, and Violence in fin-de-siècle French Anarchism’ in a session on Historical Geographies of Anarchism: situating struggles, studying environments.
Leila Dawney presented a paper on ‘Soldiers’ bodies, authority and the militarisation of everyday life’, in a session on Domesticating Geopolitics. See the powerpoint slides here.
Sam Kirwan organised a session on Geographies of Debt and Indebtedness: Everyday and Comparitive Frames. The papers in this session brought together varied perspectives on debt burdens across a range of national jurisdictions and emotional registers, and provided a new agenda for investigating debt can be as a spatial (as well as a temporal and legal) relation.
Naomi Millner presented a paper on ‘Hybrid Traditions: Nature and the politics of knowledge amongst indigenous and agreocological communities in Central America', in a session on Knowing (and Engaging) Nature Otherwise.
By Naomi Millner
The following blog post was initially posted to the Bristol 24-7 news site and can be found here.
In the past couple of weeks, an issue that has long been an issue has hit a ‘tipping point’ in terms of public awareness. It’s strange when this happens. Suddenly the language of ‘crisis’ proliferates. Suddenly everyone wants to know what they can do to help. Historically, it’s often been images of suffering children that either provoke such tipping points, or channel them to a wider audience. Perhaps it is the powerlessness of a baby in the face of indifferent natural or political forces that brings this rise out of us. Or perhaps it makes a far-off struggle suddenly feel very near.
By Patrick Bresnihan and Naomi Millner
Please find below the Call for Papers for a panel at the international conference, UNDISCIPLINED ENVIRONMENTS, Stockholm, March 20-23, 2016.
The More-than-Human Commons and the Politics of Knowledge
The papers in this session take as their starting point a post-colonial politics of knowledge that embraces material and nonhuman forces as critical allies in the struggle to determine more expansive ways of organizing in common. The concept of the more-than-human commons attempts to articulate a relationship between limits and possibility, relationality and agency, human and non-human that moves beyond humanist, or dualist, ways of thinking and doing politics. The more-than-human commons consequently provides a counterpoint not only to what anthropologist Arturo Escobar calls the “analytic of finitude,” a “cultural order in which we are forever condemned to labor under the iron law of scarcity,” but also to techno-utopian fantasies of infinite growth that tend to ignore material questions of reproduction (1999, 6). Disrupting the binaries of social and natural, human and non-human, that undergird the history of capitalist enclosure and biopolitical control, the more-than-human commons foregrounds conflicts over what ecologies are visible and how they count within new regulatory and economic regimes (de la Cadeña 2010). We invite empirical and theoretical contributions that:
The Authority Research Network held a week-long reading retreat from 1-7 July near João Pessoa, Brazil.
Sam Kirwan and Leila Dawney convened a session at the Emotional Geographies conference at Edinburgh University on Economics and Governance: Affective Cartographies of Debt.
Session Summary: This session combines papers exploring the emotional experiences of debt; from the anxiety over unopened letters piling up at the door or the fear that attaches to contingently-held objects, to the non-financial (or more-than-financial) dimensions of debt - commitments to nation, family and friends. The session will build from the increasing body of work recognising that financial debts are located not only in the abstract space of financial arrangements, but in the lived rhythms, practices and commitments of debtors (for example Deville's (2012) work on debt collectors employing their own cartographies of affective capture)
In drawing together different areas of research into these rhythms, practices and...
At a very interesting AAG (Association of American Geographers) conference in Chicago, Julian Brigstocke and Leila Dawney convened a double panel on Spaces of Emergent Authority. We hope very much to continue these discussions into the future.