Talk and Discussion at Amsterdam Alternative

20 Sep 2019

Talk on “Co-existence at Planetary Dimensions” on 20 September 2019, 19:30-21:30, more details coming soon.

It is a truism to say that human societies have become exponentially interconnected, complex and interdependent. However, it is much less obvious to cope with the problem of how to access such an interconnected, complex and interdependent dimension of reality. We need to be able to do so in order to imagine how human societies could be transformed otherwise. As post-nuclear creatures now faced with climate catastrophe, as the polymath Sylvia Wynter wrote, humans are now confronted with the historical task of co-existence within a common environment – despite the acutely uneven qualities of existence within this common condition. This is not only a political or social problem, but a conceptual problem as well.

We need new perspectives and frames of reference to learn to ‘see’ this common condition. It seems critical in my view, to construct possibilities in the name this common environment, precisely against an increasingly powerful far-right which, through ethno-nationalist isolationism, stands only for a narrow world picture of isolationism:  a barricaded world exclusively for those of familiar, self-similar resemblance. As someone working in the field of theory, I approach this demand from a conceptual angle. In my AA talk, I won’t provide determinate answers to this problem but move through a series of questions in an effort to grasp the scope of the demand, and how such questions may help ground transformative thought for politics and activism.

How can co-existence at planetary dimensions be thought in a way that is not simply globalization 2.0? What new frames of reference does this dimension of being open up, including how we understand what being human may mean, and where the human stands within this planetary picture? How can we begin to navigate at these dimensions without subordinating differences to reductive forces of homogenization? How does this scale of co-existence transform our understanding of what the local even is? What can feminist legacies concerning care and maintenance labour teach us in learning to co-exist within the planetary dimensionality of life today – a scale that calls upon an expanded picture of care beyond the sphere of the personal, or the intimate? It is the hope with such questions that we may start sketching out an image of solidarity without sameness for this newly common space of domesticity constituted by a planetary condition. These are some of the questions I would like to address and discuss with you during the AA talk.