Authority in the Wrong Hands? By Leila Dawney.
In a recent article in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, I discussed the idea of the “interruption” as a mode of interrogating the power structures that worked to produce our subjectivity, and in particular our affective responses to particular situations. The interruption, I argue, is a way of recognising the “somatisation of politics and its emergence as feeling”. It “enables us to position ourselves as critics of the politics of our own bodies, asking questions of the modes of productive power that give rise to bodies that experience historically specific affective responses… Attention to the interruption can reveal something of these processes of subjectivation, providing a way of considering how the body’s affective responses to particular situations contribute to, reinforce, and at times disrupt the political and material rationalities of its own production”.
I want to bring this methodological approach to bear on the analysis of authority, specifically with reference to a recent incident that happened to me and to which I had a quite profound affective response. After critical reflection and interrogation of this response, both in dialogue with others and alone, I came to realise that the profundity of the response that I experienced was absolutely concerned with the relationship to authority that was at the heart of the situation. In short, my response was extreme and negative precisely because authority was seen to be “in the wrong hands”.
Call for papers. "Dissenting Methods: Engaging Legacies of the Past, Defining Critical Futures". London Conference in Critical Thought, June 27-28 2014.
Call for papers - Dissenting Methods: Engaging Legacies of the Past, Defining Critical Futures. London Conference in Critical Thought, June 27-28, 2014.
Stream organisers: Naomi Millner, Julian Brigstocke, Sam Kirwan and Lara Montesinos
Coleman with The Authority Research Network.
What does it mean to be engaged in critical research, today?
In February 2014 Julian Brigstocke and Tehseen Noorani will be starting a new project titled Participation's "Others": A Cartography of Creative Listening Practices", funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council. We will post more details soon, but here's a brief summary of the project's aims and objectives from the funding proposal.
"Participatory democracy and research are often described in terms of ‘giving voice’ to marginalized subjects. But what happens when research communities attempt to attune themselves to forms of agency that do not possess a conventionally recognised ‘voice’ to be amplified? What new engagements between participatory research, artistic invention, and political agency are needed when ‘voice’ has to be created rather than simply amplified? Or rather, when new methods of ‘listening’ need to be invented?
Recent arts and humanities scholarship has done much to uncover the essentially ‘hybrid’ nature of community, recognizing the ‘entanglement between past and present, living and dead, fantasmic and real, self and other, human and non-human’ that is characteristic of any community. However, these innovations are only beginning to be connected to the agendas of participatory research. Whereas much research informed by ‘new materialist’ philosophy stops at acknowledging and representing the multiple forms of non-human agency that make up community life, this project draws together methodologies for including novel forms of agency into participatory practices.
The Authority Research Network hosted a short reading retreat in Alfriston, East Sussex, from 8-12 January 2014. The discussions addressed issues around authority, risk, and violence.
New article by Leila Dawney: 'Commoning: the production of common worlds', in lo Squaderno no. 30, December 2013, Commons – Practices, boundaries and thresholds, edited by Giacomo D’Alisa & Cristina Mattiucci.
As a form of counter-capitalist political discourse, much of the language associated with the commons relies on the idea of some form of universal/ontological ground –a “natural” relationship between people, spaces and resources that has become erased through
moves to enclose and to capture by destructive economic and political systems. In these discourses, the drive to enclose can seem impossible to resist. This article proposes a different politics of the common: one that moves away from thinking about commons as that which is lost and which needs mourning, towards practices of commoning that, in many ways in at many different scales, work to produce a feeling of being in common. These feelings have the potential to elicit a change in consciousness and subjectivity that may have far-reaching political implications in terms of resisting neoliberal forms of life and experience.
The theory and practice of authority has historically been closely tied to forms of patriarchy. It is this metaphysical entanglement of authority and fatherhood that is the object of Avital Ronell’s book on Loser Sons. In particular, Ronell is interested in the legacy of patriarchy, the ‘paternal residue’, that pervades contemporary politics. Ronell’s aim is to develop an account of contemporary authority that avoids the temptation to be ‘for’ or ‘against’ authority, but which unpicks the knots which bind together political and paternal authority. This is a very important project. Yet Ronell’s text, whilst erudite and occasionally insightful, is often frustratingly opaque, reluctant to state an argument, and oddly self-referential. (Early in the book, for example, we are offered an anecdote about the author’s dislike of being invited for coffee!) ...