Workshop - Crisis and Possibility, Duke University Department of Cultural Anthropology
Crisis is increasingly articulated as either a globalizing thread of shared consciousness (Masco 2015), or a constructed object of analysis that lacks theoretical specificity (Roitman 2013). Still, from certain perspectives, the contemporary moment does seem to be increasingly conditioned by unsustainable economic, ecological, and political processes that are infused with violence on many registers. Many social theorists have deployed concepts such as “necropolitics,” “precarity,” and “crisis” to capture the stifling aspects of contexts that appear to be determined by a sense of uncertainty, decay, and ruination. At the same time, others are announcing the reemergence of collective dreamworlds, hope, and utopian ambitions from places that, until very recently, were presented as classic examples of economic, ecological, and political crises. Eschatology, the Anthropocene, and impossible situations inhabit a global space-time that is also labeled the ascendant “African,” “Asian,” and “Southern” century. Is it possible to account for the coeval feeling of pending global ecological and economic disaster, and the emergence of unbridled optimism, retro-futurism, and new discussions of the “good life” in a single discussion? What methodologies may we explore to think through the temporalities of crisis, the conditions from which crises emerge as well as the practices that orient ruined worlds towards aspirational futures?
To facilitate these questions, the workshop is divided into four thematic working groups:
1) Mediation (the objects and discourses that signify or mediate destruction; mass affect and mass gossip surrounding states of emergency; representations of crisis and suffering; the semiotics and symbolism of ruination).
2) Violence (the everyday realities of crisis; living in ruined futures and the possibilities afforded by, and through, violence; ruptures and breaks that end time and/or give way to new beginnings).
3) Imagination (fantasies configured or prohibited by crisis; futurity and utopianism; collective dreamworlds as well as political imaginations past or present; conceptions of ruined and future space-times).
4) Materiality (the production and planning of concrete futures; lived and contested built environments; the ruins of failed utopias; new projects to materialize the future).
We are seeking advanced graduate students, junior scholars, and interested faculty whose research grapples with these thematic issues; though we hope to attract scholars approaching these issues from diverse frameworks and theoretical subfields.
To be considered for participation, please submit:
- A brief description (less than 500 words) of your current research.
- Your first and second choice of the above working groups.
- A copy of your CV.
E-mail these documents to FuturesAndRuins@gmail.com by January 20th, 2016. We will notify applicants on or before February 5th. Please feel free to add any questions or ideas that exceed our provocations. Limited travel funds are available. Please include any requests for financial support in your proposal submission.
We will connect the thematic subgroups prior to February 15th, at which point we will ask that you share a short piece of writing with your colleagues. In order to accommodate everyone’s busy schedules we ask that you circulate all pieces of writing on or before Monday, March 7th.