Sunday, October 31, 2010

making, sharing, considering the use of new knowledge

Tuesday, 2 November – Roundtables

Today we will participate in two roundtable events. You should have sent a 10-12 pg paper to Anya by Sunday 5 pm. Everyone should have read all the papers by class time Tuesday. We will draw straws to determine which roundtable you will be part of, either first or second half of class. Each author will present a 5 min version of their work, with a handout or with a very short presentation media display in turn, and then everyone will contribute to lively discussion.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

defamiliarizing frameworks of connection

From Conference:


 Tuesday, 26 October –
Povinelli, Empire (whole book) [pic with others at Queer Bonds conf. 2009; former editor Public Culture; Wikipedia entry; Public Planet Books]

What are “Empires of Love?” How are each of the sections of the book about these? What is rotten in “Rotten Worlds?” How can radical fairies in the US belong in a book together with folks from Oenpelli, Australia? How can you connect this analysis with Tsing’s Friction around the frameworks of colonial societies? And what is Public Plant Books? What sort of political and intellectual project is it?

[see Ron Eglash's work for a different, STS-type, approach to a range of issues that might overlap -- note his work on knowledge worlds, ethnosciences, and self-organization or the work of Eben Kirksey on multi-species ethnography, for example at:]


"what I have been calling the autological subject (discourses, practices, and fantasies about self-making, self-sovereignty, and the value of individual freedom associated with the Enlightenment project of contractual constitutional democracies). ...persons attempting to make sex a minor form of spitting, or for whom sex is disseminated in some other way, are already apprehended by the nightmare of the liberal autological subject—what I have been calling the nightmare of the genealogical society (discourses, practices, and fantasies about various social constraints and psychic assaults on the autological subject by various kinds of inheritances). ¶ The question I am left with is how to create the conditions in which multiple forms of the body and communities thrive, not merely multiple forms of sexuality. This question understands ethics to be already entwined in power and its political formations, and it understands sexuality as no more or less central a corporeal, moral, or ethical position than any other practice of embodied communities."

17: "If you want to locate the hegemonic home of liberal logics and aspirations, look to love in settler colonies."
18: "the referent of liberal settler colonies is much wider than nation-states literally founded on the basis of colonial settlement, encompassing what I sometimes describe as the liberal diaspora -- an origin-less or origin-obscuring process of transformation in circulation that retroactively constitutes its beginning and center."

18: "Empire created and circulated poverty, trauma, and death globally, while claiming to create and foster wealth, happiness, and life, and it claimed a universal origin and end even as it was partial about its values and goals.... the more life-worlds and languages that liberal institutions and discourses absorbed, the more the tensions and contradictions between its ideal image and its actual practice increased, while suspicion grew that liberalism was an incoherent, ideology-driven system of exploitation."

45-6: "Maximally embodied social relations -- what I sometimes think of as thick life -- make physically and psychologically healthy persons. Because these discussions [as about sorrow] occur within the present-time of the settler colony, they also are always about the difference between the emphases that settler and indigenous people place on social relations and the self. At Belyuen this emphasis is sometimes put in terms of 'clean skin' (skin without sores, lice, scabies, or scars). To be within a socially thick world is to expose the skin to its play and its care.... // here at Belyuen, my flesh is always already stretched across multiple possible material anchors. In perhaps their most damning social analysis of settler societies, indigenous men and women from the northwest coast observe how comfortable white people are living alone, how they seem satisfied by the thinnest embrace of the conjugal couple, how they would rather be alone (gamaparrking) than have one little louse."

73: "being bound to my friends and family along the coast means that I can neither be with them nor with myself easily. I can tell my date that I am likely to continue to get these sores because I am likely to continue to return year after year to people whom I have known longer and more intimately than many in my biological family. But I also return there on the condition that I leave some aspects of my sexuality behind. ¶ As a result, the deeply personal relation has made me personally implausible, my political allegiances ackward. If I locate myself within a world of stranger sociality and the sexuality it entails, then I have separated myself because at this point who I am is unimaginable outside these twenty-one years of being in this family.... We are all vulnerable, but not equally so."

77-9: Ghoul heath: "one of the oldest tricks of the capitalist organization of global medicine." [It] refers to the global organization of the biomedical establishment, and its imaginary, around the idea that the big scary bug, the new plague, is the real threat that haunts the contemporary global division, distribution, and circulation of health.... plays on the real fear that the material distribution of life and death arising from the structural impoverishment of post-colonial and settler colonial worlds may have accidentally or purposefully brewed an unstoppable bio-virulence from the bad faith of liberal capital and its multiple geophysical tac //tics and partners. // ...The withdrawal of capital from regions after the severe extraction of resources and the resulting pollution of the environment.... The encouragement of a region to enter capitalist development quickly, bypassing the economic 'drag' of social services...."

Staph skin infections and MIRSA

155-6: "Cast outside genealogy by critical publics and juridical rulings, faeries fall back, or are pushed, into the disciplines of freedom -- but a severely qualified freedom. Read under the sign of 'homosexual,' radical faeries are barely equal citizens under the law. Understood as a religion, they straddle precariously the divide between the autological subject and the genealogical society. Radical faeries seem to be free, but they are then refused their freedom and refused a proper 'culture' in any deep (i.e., historical) or robust (socially governed) sense. Indigenous people face the opposite side of this discursive dynamic. They may be seen to have culture in the robustly genealogical sense -- biologically, socially, and culturally descendent -- but they're not 'free.' Lacking freedom, they teeter on the rim of humanity. It is not a surprise, then, that media and legal discussions revolve around how far their toes can dip into actual life before they lose whatever social, political, or economic compensations refus- // ing actual life might provide them. Nor is it a surprise that media and legal discussions of progressive alternative social groups revolve around the ethics and legality of appropriating other cultures, given the insistence these alternative groups be culturally stillborn and indigenous groups be culturally frozen."

157-8: "The play of sexuality among the radical faeries would seem to exemplify what Foucault had in mind when he reflected on practices of freedom as practices of critical transgression. One of his favorite rallying cries, 'Develop your legitimate strangeness,' could, after all, have been the banner of various queer hippie communes in the Bay Area during the 1970s.... // How do we invest actualities that operate just outside vision with the power to change dominant bio-epistemologies? For Foucault, the answer lay in cultivating practices of freedom that orient the subject to restless experimentation with the givenness of life, with how life might be otherwise than it is...."

autological self  

169: "If we treat sexuality and race as if they were the gourd and shells sitting on my desk, the problem becomes quite clear. What is and is not 'something' can be a matter of serious dispute, animating heated debates not only about the social status of a thing (a kind of person, object, mood), but also about what should be the evidential grounds for assessing competing claims about the status of a thing (an act, identity, heritage). But these decisions about who and what are an instance of one thing rather than another are also the covert presuppositions that allow us to go about our daily routines without much thought."

171-2: "many people within counter-publics, unregulated public spheres, and minority and subaltern groups neither // engage nor ignore the call to thematize/translate their practices and beliefs for a normative public; they neither ignore the integrating function of stipulating thematizations nor do they engage them in the sense of translating their life-worlds for others. Instead of the dialectics of recognition and translation, we are witnessing the emergence of a practice of espionage and transfiguration and of an orientation to the re-elaboration of the self rather than self-identity. In these social fields, the point well may be to reshape habitudes ahead of recognition, to test something out rather than translate it, not to produce meanings that can be translated, or embodiments that can be recognized."

174: "Experiments in sociality such as those engaged in by radical faeries are not, however, always as picturesque as the image of shaman channeling the spirit world might suggest. They are instead awkward, misfiring, malfunctioning social interactions, blurred moral lines between appropriate cultural borrowings and insensitive appropriations, all of which are sometimes, perhaps too often, deformed by accidental addictions and illnesses.... They are the struggles to build houses without money, to get care without health insurance, to speak a language of dependency when the broader political economy is increasingly oriented to the socially detached conjugal couple."

179: "Debates [about love] within and across these tables [disagreeing] arise not merely because participants cannot agree about what they are referring to when they refer to families, values, bodies, and sexualities. They also arise because people still dream of a form of equality that would hegemonize the entire social field, solving once and for all the difference of difference." "For some progressives, the point of loving is to thicken rather than thin out the social world."

182-3: "It is my contention that the phantom nature of the intimate event is a critical mechanism by which the history of the liberal present is written, liberal life constituted and distributed, liberal forms of evil apportioned and punishe, the good figured; and against which experiments in progressive mutual obligation beyond the conjugal couple and biological family are formulated. It is equally my contention that if the magical features of the intimate event are to be animated socially and // psychically, then others must be trapped in liberal intimacy's nightmare -- the genealogically determined collective."

184: "For a foundational event to bear the full weight of Enlightenment exceptionalism a set of conditions must be in play: [1] the constitution of the subject via the fantasy of self-referential enclosure; [2] the characterization of the fantastic self as the origin and basis of true freedom; [3] and the reduction of Right and Truth to this form of freedom."

184: "Foucault likewise noted that the price Europeans paid to free themselves from the external social constraints of familial, aristocratic, and religious power was to assume their own self-management and to constitute the government as its disciplinary apparatus. At this moment self-discipline emerged not only as a viable but also as a necessary practice of human freedom -- the telic and ontic truth of this man is not in his essence but in his obedience to a specific practice of self-performativity. ¶ How self-obedience came to be understood as self-autonomy and freedom is, of course, the subject of no little controversy both within and across disciplinary fields."

telic & ontic

190-1: "one of the key dimensions of the fantasy of intimate love is its stated opposition to all other forms of social determination even as it claims to produce a new form of social glue.... Because this kind of self-transformation  leans on the openness of other people to the same type of self-transformation, autological intimacy functions as a proselytizing religion. Like capital, intimacy demands an ever-expanding market.... // We literally reform the social by believing in and demanding this form of love.... for social theorists of the Western Enlightenment the power of the intimate event of self-sovereignty lay in its ability to connect the micro-practices of certain forms of love to the macro-practices of certain forms of state-governance and certain forms of capital production, circulation, and consumption -- to make a personal event a normative mission and a civilizational break. The semiotic operation of the intimate event so saturates the horizon of everyday life that it no longer seems a 'semiotic operation' but just the way people do things...."

194: "the intimate event is where I find myself and where I lose myself, where reason is subverted by desire rather than installed, where I am compelled more than compelling, where there is always more of me than I know what to do with. The very form itself absorbs me, swallows me up, and overwhelms me even as it agitates and detaches me. And the compelling fiction of the foundational event creates an anxiety as plural as it is incommensurate: Will I be isolated if this event does not strike me? ...If it does not strike me will I be left alone with social support or renewal? Will I be cast out?"

195-6: "all intimacies stretch between the actual and the possible, the long duration and the punctual, the singular and the general. What are the criteria by which we assess whether the event has happened to us or to others? How do we decide what is what -- what is love; what is lust; what is a // passing fancy?"

204: "If we are interested in the relationship between intimacy and the liberal diaspora, then we need to understand carnality as not merely a juridical and political maneuver, nor merely as a social tactic, but as a physical mattering, just as the intimate event and the genealogical so- // ciety are also physical matters, facts of carnality as well as of discourse."

213: "the tension between the contractual conjugal couple and the expansion of the genealogical grid instigated a struggle across all orders of society over these new disciplines of sexuality and kinship. The genealogical grid became a pervasive constraint at the very moment that the individual seemed to be freed from its dictates. Everyone was suddenly in real or potential danger of a dangerous liaison."

235: "Which will you have, stranger promiscuity (carnality) or intimate love? What, by contrast, might the practices of, say, an intimate promiscuity be? What new forms of freedom would be attached to such a thing? What if sexual promiscuity were seen as the best means toward an intimate end rather than what gets in the way of intimacy? Experimenting with new relationships between anonymous sex and intimate friendship would indeed upset the fabric of humanist discourse because it cut diagonally across carnality and intimacy, it refused their constitutive differences, or made use of them to increase the frisson of a sexual encounter and an intimate bed."

The Gregory Bateson Documentary 

Friday, October 15, 2010

settlements and the postmodern

Tuesday, 19 October – settlements and the postmodern
• Hekman, Material: Chap 3 (“the third settlement”)
Star 1991. “Onions” (emailed)
Clarke 2010. Obit Star (emailed)
Clarke 2005. Situated: “Doing Situational Maps” (83-144) (xerox) review

Star 1978. "Altered" (optional. emailed); Clarke et al 2003. "Biomedicalization" (optional. emailed)
• NOTE: Latour's website:  

Biopower: what is it? how indebted to Foucault? how at stake for feminist thinking? where does never been modern come from? why here “never been postmodern”? what does Hekman mean by “settlement” anyway? How do you put this stuff into play with what you already know about feminist theory? What insights might we gather from Star’s “Onions” essay about generalization, standardization, articulation, assemblage and conceptual infrastructures? What role has Star played in connecting feminist postmodernism, Latour and Foucault, and issues of methodology?


Clarke 2005: 141: "these maps are not intended as formulas for analysis, but as directions through which to begin and deepen analytic work, as sites of engagement.... The ways we are surprised by some results of our work often demonstrate overt assumptions we have had that we were blind to. ...surprise at grasping some new position or way of 'seeing' something indicates openness to unanticipated data, analyses, and difference(s) -- not stupidity for not having 'seen' it before."

Friday, October 8, 2010

Queer times?

Tuesday, 12 October – zero degrees? salience and starship gender?
Weston, Gender (whole book)

What role does space-time play in gender constructions, interventions, and deployments? What sort of critique of one’s own field does Weston model here? How is it related to the self-critiques of anthropology as a field? How does Weston operate time-claims in a queer analysis?

Interview with Kath Weston by Stephen Helmreich, 2006. Body and Society 12(3): 103-121. Notice the networks including other folks we are reading and those to whom they refer. (Thanks Oliver!)

and what counts as queer theory, or studies, or intervention? what queers it? For some of Katie's own considerations on these matters see: "Queer Transdisciplinarities." And another handout highlighting Bowker and Star tools is HERE. It is similar to the one I handed out, but has some other references too.

from the acknowledgments (x): "If obstacles are to be acknowledged as well as debts, it must be said that it is not always easy to find the means to pursue research on topics (gender!) that have shifted with intellectual fashions from the cutting edge of tomorrow to today's au courant." 

from the preface (xi): "Turn the page and step into a time machine. Destination: Gender. Gender is not a thing to be understood, or a conceptual space to be visited, but as a product of social relations imbued with time. Grab your gear and prepare for a trip to another galaxy."

(xii): "It is well known that books, like fossils, are time machines of a sort that can transport readers to another era. Words become the equivalent of a starship that slithers through a rent in spacetime to convey readers to various yesterdays, tomorrows, and occasionally even a parallel universe in which events unfold rather differently than expected.... Less recognized is a second way in which books can provide a vehicle for time travel. By supplying the analytic machinery required to understand time, they serve as devices for examining the workings of temporality. In the case at hand, presumptions about time embedded in theory and practice turn out to affect, intimately, the making of gender."

parallel realities (xiiff):

1: on the one hand: "preoccupation with ambiguity" :: "preoccupation with multiple genders" :: "street violence directed at bodies that seemed to resist classification." 
on the other: a different time period of globalization: "golden age of Arabic/Islamic science" :: implications of THAT zero in "rhythms of gender's creation, disappearance, and reemergence in the 'real time' of life under the latest of capitalism."

2: on the one hand: "visual emphasis incorporated into performativity theories of gender"
on the other:  "temporal movements associated with repetition" :: "aftermath of historic shifts in industrial production that relocated manufacturing plants overseas"

3: on the one hand: "part played by historical memory in the production of gender"
on the other: "ideologies of modernity" 

4: on the one hand: "time-sensitive versions of gender studies"
on the other: "in order to engage with the new forms of power that globalization brings."

WHAT IS AT ISSUE? (xiii): "The prospects for equality, the work to which we give our days, passion, rage, friendship, survival, resource distribution, memory's wagers.... Our theories, our relationships, and sometimes our very lives." 


1: Liberation when? (9): "Liberation denied, liberation achieved; both visions dependent upon an all-or-nothing approach to social change. Both visions dependent on vision and an unexamined allegiance to the concept of change. A certain grandiosity prevails in either case, puffed up by generous infusions of time. ¶ To dissolve a paradox is not, however, to dismiss its social effects. It is by no means an easy matter to extracate gender studies from the 'seething of words and dreams' that issues from its utopian heritage. How to generate an analytics that will, if only for a time, resist the lure of commodification? How to grasp the resources withheld from women -- and which women? -- at the self-proclaimed centers of freedom? Shifting between scraps of land claimed by different states, or simply holding hands, remains a life-threatening proposition in many of the sites where modernity's well-schooled voice proclaims that life is uniformly better." 

2: Vision just in time & spacetime. (Katie's version: how do we know social change when we see it?) (10): "At what historical moment did it become possible to imagine gender as an artifact of performance or a resource for pleasure rather than some dead weight to be thrown off? Could a time without gender in is unrecognized dimensions of the here and now, rather than some far off, future "then"?" 
(11): "emphasis on seeing and space as metaphors for overcoming oppression." (12): at "the very moment when 'eye candy' begins to describe a range of visually induced consumer pleasures."

(13-14): "Space-plus-time (space and time) is not the same theoretical apparatus as spacetime.... An additive understanding (space-plus-time) pictures time and space as two geometric planes that intersect.... The analyst brings the two together after the fact by first imagining them as separate but interdependent, then investigating the effect that one has on the other.... An integrated understanding of spacetime offers a better approach.... // There is no need to explain how they come together... because nothing stands between them.... The unified concept of spacetime puts gender back into time by calling attention to what is peculiar to the production of gender under the latest capitalism."

(15): "This excursion into physics may seem to have brought the discussion a long way from genderless utopias and social movements, but here again the length of the journey depends upon the frame."
"The social relations that make gender visible, visual, turn out to be drenched in history, time discipline, and duration... gendered bodies come up temporal."

(17): "Visibility elicits recognition, but in a racist society, it can also help define a target." 
(18): from Hennessy 1995: 31: "the visibility of sexual identity is often a matter of commodification, a process that invariably depends on the lives and labor of invisible others."

3: Surviving representation. (Think Keeling here too.) (18-19): "...when activists and theorists pit survival // against representation, treating the two as though they were mutually exclusive rather than radically intertwined.... The two cannot be lived or analyzed in isolation, because they occur in and through one another." 

(19): "a woman's survival depends upon calling people into classification." " judgments about gender lead to romance as well as lethal exchange. 

(21): "the study of queer materiality" "Within these pages other things have been queered as well, queered in the sense of rendered unexpected and strange." 

(22): "By drawing upon elements of Arabic/Islamic and Buddhist/Hindu science that provided the wherewithal for global navigation, I develop a zero concept to comprehend the fleeting moments in which gender makes its disappearance on a daily basis." (23): "time claims and the periodic zeroing out of gender in the current era of globalization."

(23) "the violence of counting" -- "cloak unjust social arrangements with an aura of the inevitable" 

some spacetimes: 

• raced, gendered, class and labored restrooms,  in the 50s, 70s, 90s, 2010, across identity-based social movements, from airports to bus terminals to universities (25ff; 27): "When a flash of gendered uncertainties prompts onlookers to do whatever they can to set a person at odds with the call of her own body, she walks through a history, not just a door."

(27-8): "Something is going on in the streets and shops of a globalizing economy, at century's beginning, at century's end, that targets ambiguities as // raced and classed as they are gendered. Something is going on in the posts and outposts of power, where gender reasserts itself with each breach of a border. Something is going on that involves more than an inability (and on the part of whom?) to let well enough alone, to let ambiguity remain ambiguity, to let your hesitation double as my knowledge, your verities locked in conflict with my relative interpretation."

What counts as "queer"? Weston's series of vignettes & (30-1): "These vignettes raise the possibility -- the inevitability -- of multiple, conflicting readings. What one reads as 'straight' another reads as gender-bending. What one understands as oppressively or scintillatingly real, another takes as parody, a third as failed attempt. Privilege, often unannounced, bolsters claims to a definitive interpretation.... When one person's femme becomes another person's butch or 'halfway middler,' the interpretive shifts involved are neither arbitrary nor random. They depend on who's viewing whom, at which historical point and in the context of what sorts of power relations.... // This very eagerness to move someone out of that moment of becoming unsexed, to arrive at a classification of femme or man or dyke, is the product of an era in which the absence of clear demarcations subjects bodies to desperate measures. Presence turns into passing, and even 'deviants' find themselves slotted into neatly tagged categories." 

Meta? (39): "In a twenty-first-century sense, zero is not just another number among numbers or a sign among signs.... zero operates as a meta-sign: both a sign about signs, and a sign for the absence of other signs. If zero is there, seven is not there; in the place where zero stands, tow and forty-seven are not. As such, zero signifies not only an absence, but also the potential for later occupation. Movement is thus implicit in the sign. ¶ Zero also keeps other numerals in their place, so to speak." 

(40): "Like zero, unsexed does not refer to something that is there -- 'a' gender -- in any ontological sense. Like zero, unsexed operates as a meta-sign, a sign about that ephemeral instant in which someone perceives an absence of gendered signification.... The zero concept of unsexed draws attention to a movement in and out of gender that occurs under very specific historical conditions, conditions that have everything to do with shifting relations of power and production that performativity theories can acknowledge, but otherwise fail to engage.... the temporalities involved far exceed the processual time of performativity."

(42-4): "The multiple genders that have insinuated their way into // monographs as analytic as well as descriptive devices are signs arrayed alongside other signs. They are not meta-signs like zero, but signs of the same order.... Without the distraction of that kind of abstraction, one might begin to suspect that the onset of scholarly fascinating with the notion of a Third Gender coincided with shifts in more generalized social processes of commodification.... Packaging gender into the calculable bundles that are genders -- even in culturally or historically relative terms -- paves the way for disciplinary practices that subject bodies to tallying and sorting. Without this kind of makeover, there are no guessing games about who is and who is not, no // medical interventions to sort 'intersexed' people (hermaphrodites) into numbered slots, no controversies over chromosome testing in international sports, no heated discussions about where to place someone when 'it' walks through the door of a bathroom or bus.... encouraging people to look once again to bodies, to the visual, as gender's ultimate referent. Bodies can be racked up, ordered, totaled in a way that the power relations involved in a moment of unsexing cannot."

(50-1): "Although anyone can become unsexed/unraced/unclassed -- undone -- at any given moment, the process is not random.... As a person becomes undone, s/he becomes a cypher.... However short-lived, the value endowed on the place that the cipher holds open is the potential for gendered signification. With it comes the potential for reflection.... the cypher represents a more general undoing of identities in which gender may have melded with class, race, age, religion, or any of the classifiers used for social sorting. Unsexing is a process too instantaneous, too ephemeral, and too complex to call only gender in and out of play.... // Whatever onlookers perceive, it is not what they expected.... Embedded within any momentary absence of expected signification is an enticement to resolution."

generations? time claims & post memory (103): "...young women on the cusp of what would soon be declared a global economy would, in their turn, use the bodies of preceding generations as a screen. By symbolically converting elders into representatives of a bygone era, they perpetuated the 'modern tradition' of treating older people as denizens of the past.... The judgments about time and change and gender hammered out in these venues incarnated historical memory, insofar as younger women understood the older women around them to exemplify the past. In the process, bodies metamorphosed into indices of what Marianne Hirsch has called postmemory, a kind of second-generation memory 'mediated not through recollection but through an imaginative investment and creation' consolidated by vigorous narratives that predate someone's birth." 

another spacetime: lesbian "community" -- marginalized/ing, involved/ing -- (110): "Narrators [self-identified lesbians of the 80s or 90s?] identified the 1970s as the period of androgyny and lesbian-feminism, then skipped ahead to the mid-1980s, when a 'new' butch/femme emerges as a option rather than an expectation. Their accounts were not nearly so nuanced as those developed by historians such as Elizabeth Kennedy and Madeline Davis, who carefully distinguish the butch/femme of the 1950s from that of the 1930s and 1940s. In the later bar stories, the 1960s becomes a lost decade, while the years before 1949 fade from history into the relatively timeless past."

(116-7): "Memories, historical or otherwise, do not move so much backward (or forward) as in- // and-out, through and around, in a process through which forgetting becomes not just the flip side of remembering, but its price." (119): "The most common models of temporality in North America are either too linear or too cyclical to explain what happens as people forget, remember, forget to remember, remember to forget, remember that they have forgotten, and devise intricately collective ways to traverse time.... The bodies of those Old Butches have opened up a wormhole of sorts, a rent in the fabric of spacetime with the potential to turn analysts of gender into time travelers, depositing us somewhere, somewhen, at another end."

(123): "...foster what cultural theorist Lauren Berlant terms 'paramnesias,' in which images 'organize consciousness, not by way of explicit propaganda, but by replacing and simplifying memories people actually have with image traces of political experience about which people can have political feelings that link them to other citizens and to patriotism.'"

Saturday, October 2, 2010

generations of material feminisms

Tuesday, 5 October – the new and the on-going in critique
Hekman, Material: Chaps 4, 5 (“the fourth settlement”)
• (xerox) & Ahmed & Davis
• explore online the reviews of Hekman’s book and of the earlier edited collection Material Feminisms.

What is at stake in the varying chronologies of innovation, disciplinary travel, constructions of multiple materialities, bodies, and the new circulating around the so-called "new materialist theorists"? Investigate the debate opened up by Sara Ahmed 2008 in the European Journal of Women’s Studies and a reply by Davis the following year 2009. What transnational issues are indirectly involved? How are feminist concerns put into conflict with each other? Why are these feminist politics “the fourth settlement”?

How does one enter a set of concerns (debates?) for the first time? It's already going on, where do YOU come in? One way is with a guide, but notice how "interested" your guide is likely to be: their version of the principle players, what is at stake, how many discourses are being collapsed together, and the histories, timelines and genealogies will be shaped by their own memberships in various communities of practice. To some extent I am your guide here, notice how interested I am! In another sense, I too am entering these concerns as a peripheral participant: much of this material is new to me, or at least new in this debating relationship. In that sense, I can model some of my own ways of approaching this set of materials as a newbie. But notice that my forms of "learning to learn" are already structured as well! 

I offer you some "meta" analysis: ways to think about the knowledge worlds involved, how to frame the timelines taken for granted, how to make visible some generational and disciplinary agencies involved, and how to trace some of the literatures -- which are held in common across the debating partners, and which are not. My own first book sets out these intentions, although many tools I share come from work I have done since then. (King, 1994, Theory in Its Feminist Travels.)

So, some ways of thinking about such thinking: I have especially found helpful the work of Susan Leigh Star and Geoff Bowker (esp. Sorting Things Out), and in turn, the methods of science studies, particularly feminist technoscience studies, for mapping who is who, where is where, what is what, and why. (See also Clarke's Situational Analysis.) Notice the irony here: the very methods I find useful for considering these concerns are some of the objects in dispute, some of the agencies shaping and being shaped here, and some of the players in the action! (For me one genealogy includes: Haraway's Primate Visions, "Situated Knowledges," Modest Witness, How Like a Leaf (with Goodeve), and When Species Meet; as well as Latour's Laboratory Life (with Woolgar), We have Never Been Modern, and "How to talk about the body.")

So, what counts as the material anyway? Wikipedia: materialism ; Dictionary Philosophy of Mind ; Feminist Theory website: Materialist Feminism .

Personally I think of materiality in terms of extent, range, connectivity and infrastructures; necessarily economic and otherwise caught up in worldly processes of many sorts. So the work of folks like Keeling, Tsing and Hayward are examples of what I personally take as also "at stake" in material feminisms and their practice. Focus doesn't come at the expense of connection. It is not narrower but actually broader. One needs a sense of range in order to bring things into focus.

the feminist settlement? (K:969) "the feminist settlement is the most comprehensive. It addresses epistemological, ontological, political, scientific, and technical issues simultaneously. It is concerned, not just with science, knowledge, or power, but with all these at once, and most importantly, with the interaction among them. More clearly than any of the other settlements it indicates the direction that further critique will take."

some terms for this? Hekman names (K:973) "the new materialism," Tuana's "interactionism" or "viscous porosity," Barad's "intra-action" and "agential realism."
what does lack of common label indicate? newness? building consensus? (K:975)

social constructionism ; realism  
movement from? epistemology to ontology ? emergenceembodiment 
representation vs. performativity vs. assemblage
onto-epistem-ology ; postepistemological ; ontological politics 

Hekman (K:1242): "some aspects of the settlement, most notably the analysis of science, are more developed than others.... glaring omission...few theorists discuss the implications of this approach for the social world."

Some players here: look up: Hekman, Alaimo, Ahmed, Davis 
Everyone claims Haraway. Why? Bridge from old to new? (K:975)
Harding, Longino, Code, Keller, Fausto-Sterling, Wylie, Hankinson-Nelson, Butler      
Searle, Latour, Rouse, Davidson, Pickering, Derrida, Bohr          
Braidotti, Grosz, Gatens, Mol, Wilson       
two Cloughs: Sharyn (cited by Hekman) and Patricia (cited by Ahmed)   

(K:1010) "it is precisely in the application of this new approach that its strength lies."
We have already seen some possible "applications" (are they part of all this?) from our readings of Haraway, Tsing, and Hayward. What connections do they make and on what terms in practice? 

=Hekman describes Tuana's "array of forces" in her analysis of Hurricane Katrina as including "the economic, the political, the ecological, the biological, the historical, and the racial." (K:1027)
=Hekman notes that Barad's analysis of the sonogram "not only reveals the multiple elements of this practice but examines their intra-action in a practice that matters on multiple levels." technological, apparatus, perception, scientific/medical, discursive, political. (K: 1113) 

• Hekman quotes Barad's "entanglements": "to lack an independent, self-contained existence... individuals emerge through and as a part of their entangled intra-relating." (K:1043)
• Hekman declares Barad's goal is "giving an account of materiality as an active and productive factor in its own right" which "is essential to the future of feminism." (K:1051)
• Hekman sees "For Barad, Bohr's agential realism has the advantage of bringing matter back in, and specifically matter as agential, without denying the role of theory in the constitution of what will become 'reality.'" (K:1055)
• Hekman positions Barad critiquing Butler's "how discourse comes to matter" to Barad's own "how matter comes to matter." (K:1095)

(K: 1124): "the 'fetus' that the scientist sees through the sonogram, the objective object of the scientific gaze, is the 'fetus' that the law has defined as a free-floating subject.... We cannot 'see' the fetus in the sonogram without 'seeing' it as an autonomous subject under the law." The fetus is a "phenomenon constituted and reconstituted out of historically and culturally situated intra-actions of material-discursive apparatus of bodily production." Hekman quotes Rouse saying that Barad does all this "without reducing or subordinating scientific knowledge to predetermined structures of power." (K:1131)

Barad 2007: 361: "scientific practices do not reveal what is already there; rather, what is 'disclosed' is the effect of the intra-active engagements of our participation within and as a part of the world's differential becoming." (K:1138)
Barad 2007: 390: "We are responsible for the world of which we are a part, not because it is an arbitrary construction of our choosing but because reality is sedimented out of particular practices that we have a rold in shaping and through which we are shaped." (K:1141)

Compare Hekman's understanding of the work of Elizabeth Grosz to Ahmed's understanding of it, with attention to what is at stake for each of them in invoking or critiquing it.

Ahmed 2008: 26: "One must wonder who is being evoked by this ‘we’, and to what extent this ‘we’ functions to interpellate the reader into a community that shares a common horizon (Have you forgotten where we have come from? Have I?). If you inhabit the ‘we’ of feminism, then you become implicated in this ‘we’ by virtue of your inhabitance. After all, this text is very much addressed to feminists and others who share feminist interests, suggesting that feminists, and ‘all theorists interested in the relations between subjectivity, politics, and culture, need to have a more nuanced, intricate account of the body’s immersion and participation in the world, if they are to develop political strategies to transform the existing social regulation of bodies’ (Grosz, 2004a: 2)."

Hekman 2010: K: 1212: Grosz understands Darwin to mean that "'culture produces the nature it needs to justify itself, but nature is also that which resists by opening according to its own logic and procedures' (2004:72)." (K: 1213): "She wants feminism to embrace what she calls 'a politics of affirmation of difference' (2004:72). Central to that goal is a reconfiguration of nature as dynamic, of matter as culturally productive.... (K: 1220): "She asserts that it is the resistance of the world to human wishes, its capacity to make us want, that makes us produce and invent (2005:128)."

Hird on "new materialism" as in 2004 Feminist Theory and/of Science,
special issue journal Feminist Theory: 2: "a momentous shift in the natural sciences in the past few decades to suggest an openness and play within the living and non-living world, contesting previous paradigms which posited a changeable culture against a stable and inert nature."

Do feminist approaches to animal studies fit in here too? Consider this upcoming conference at Wesleyan: sex/gender/species: "The growing field of animal studies has turned critical attention to the real conditions and stakes of human-animal relations. It has also become a new and important focus for debates over identity and difference that have embroiled academic theory over the past quarter century. Recent scholarship on animal otherness as well as discussions of how to traverse boundaries of difference often draws upon a history of feminist theory and practice even as this borrowing remains unacknowledged. The purpose of this conference is to foreground the relations between feminist and animal studies and to examine the real and theoretical problems that are central to both fields of inquiry."

Conferences, special issues of journals and collections of scholarly articles such as Material Feminisms can be thought of as intellectual/political projects that involve relative ranges of collaboration and the instantiation or creation of communities of practice.

some considerations for discussion of conversations as units of political agency in action in theoretical discourse (the contention in my first book): 

• how to work with differences between complex intentions and analysis in works and authors understood at a fine grain of analysis and the ways these become mobilized in shorthand bits traveling, used in translations across knowledge worlds, appropriated for (overly?) clear pedagogical purposes and so on in more general terms without the same investments in precision and technical specificity?

• how to think about differences between what a text/author says complexly and how the text/author is used as an object in political debate and in the production of generational and other interests over time, in the construction of time frames, histories, genealogies?

• how to account for disciplinary and other differences in what counts as an argument, what counts as evidence, and what counts as good intellectual/political/technical practice?

• how to take into account the affects that manage knowledge worlds, their boundaries, memberships, trajectories of naturalization, peripheral participation, and urgencies of action?

• how to consider generously that naming a problematic clearly and courageously at one moment in time may later on appear inadequate to address that problematic, later on when the messy, difficult work of even perceiving these problematics has become taken for granted, and the urgencies of action are felt with renewed frustration and concern.

• how to describe the absorption into infrastructures of thinking and institutionalization that belie textual and authorial intentions, with effects that are distinct from texts and authors?

• how to account for divergent experiences of communities of practice with materials, discourses, objects and institutionalizations such that they generalize very differently as their horizon of experience is materially distinct?

All these make it only too easy for those "in debate" to talk right past each other, to actually have experienced their work and others in ways that are directly counter to those of the folks they debate with, to set up the terms of their concerns in ways that are hidden to themselves as deeply held and unquestioned assumptions that also anchor their reputation and expertise. Are these so divergent that real engagements are impossible? Far from it. Some of these divergences are actually in themselves productive: they may be misunderstandings but they may also create and build new ways of thinking and interaction anyway. Or they may result in effects that reinforce boundaries between communities of practice. Or they may create affects that enable or disable difficult negotiations with and among identity groups, institutional agents, intellectual generations, or disciplinary and transdisciplinary meanings.