Gender Hierarchy: On critiquing verticality and looking towards diversified geometry

13 Sep, 2018

Talk and panel discussion at Grey Projects, Singapore on 13 Sept., 2018. Organized by InYoung Yeo. Talk on “Feminism’s Horizonless Future”.

The difficulty in speaking of the future without evoking a horizon, points to the ubiquity this particular concept holds over our imaginaries that grapple with the unknown and the anticipatory. The persistence of this notion, in both spatial and metaphorical uses, however, highlights the general impact that geometric conceptions possess in undergirding our (inter-)relations to and in the world, guiding our mobility within it. While the title of this talk may sound dismal, it points rather to the inadequacy of the ‘horizon’ in providing orientation, arguing for an update of our geometric concepts, and the subsequent perspectives that emerge from them. As a representational trope mimicking human optics, in linear perspective the horizon indexes not only our bio-sensory limitations, but also emphasizes vantage points emanating from individual, ‘proper’ positions, obfuscating a reality that lays beyond our immediate reach (presentism), as well as modes of representing collective, pluri-situated orientation. The meshing of the horizon with futurity as such, in this regard, is an entirely anthropocentric metaphor, bound less to reality’s complexity, but only a narrow representation of it. If, as Donna Haraway insisted, feminism must demand better accounts of reality, so too must we insist on better representational, metaphorical and speculative accounts of it as well. At a historical moment of heightened complexity, systemic interdependencies, and planetary-scale computation where humans can no longer be situated as centrifugal agents, new geometric figurations require articulation. If feminism is to have a stake in our planetary condition it must construct modes of orientation within it, this future doesn’t require horizons, but an alienation from them.