Post-Session Discussion #1a: The vulnerability of doing things differently
By Will LaFleur
Dear Presenters, Discussants, Attendees and Participants-otherwise,
We thank you for your energy in generating last week’s discussions, debates and explorations. Hopefully your experiences in the sessions still have you thinking into this week, and the blog/discussion here will continue stoking your engagement over the next months. This will be our first of several post-workshop discussions over the next few months, and we ask that you please join us in advancing the discussions we began last week. Discussion prompts will be posted nearly every week from now until the end of May. We don’t mean to be overly ambitious, but if we can get a good running dialog here we hope to organise and publish them as part of the workshop series at a later point in time. But first, let’s quickly go through some practicalities for the discussion. The discussions will work something like this:
- In the following 2-3 weeks after a workshop we will aim to post one blog/discussion prompt to extend the dialog on issues that arose in the previous workshops.
- The blog posts will take a theme and ask a selection of questions aimed at collecting your reflections, opinions, positions and blind-alley thoughts as we continue digesting the workshop discussions and developing our thinking.
- In order to begin a discussion, simply click on the “Leave a comment” button on the top right side of the blog post, (or else scroll to bottom of page to reply to previous posts). If you have a WordPress, Twitter or Facebook account you can log in with one of them to comment. If you do not wish to log in with one of those accounts, you can still comment, either anonymously or by typing your name in the appropriate box. You can also choose to enter your email so that you can receive notifications if another person replies to your comment. Your email will remain private, but your social media picture will appear if you choose to use it.
- To reply to another user’s comment, simply click on the “Reply” tab that appears on each comment. Your reply will appear indented underneath the comment you replied to. New comments will appear flush to the left.
- If you want to delete your comment, please contact us ASAP, as only the website moderators can remove comments.
As a reminder, don’t forget to check out our “Library” section for reading lists based on last week’s presentations. We’ve also added a bonus list of recommendations that Kanishka Goonewardena provided during his time as discussant. Be sure to have a look!
Right, now that the basics are covered, let’s begin the discussion!
Different, vulnerable, uncertain
In one of the final discussions last week, Jens Kaae Fisker and Letizia Chiappini took an avant-garde approach to platform urbanism in their presentation with Serres and Lefebvre. In the ensuing discussion, they remarked: “When you decide to do things differently, you open to a new set of vulnerabilities”. Considering the overarching theme of “learning from theories outside the canon”, questions of vulnerability and uncertainty seem inevitable if we take our learning to then ‘think’ and ‘do’ from outside the canon, perhaps daring to be epistemically disobedient. What might thinking and doing from outside the canon look (sound or feel) like when it comes to, for example, breaking with or ‘re-reading’ trusty binaries (North-South, centre/periphery, etc)? How can we reconcile or justify the messiness that may follow from doing things differently from the Eurocentric canon (perhaps John Law’s “Mess in Social Science Research” is instructive)? Should we even have to? A new dialectic seems necessary if we allow ourselves to turn down the blind alley, while nonetheless maintaining the ability to call on the knowledges that have led us there when necessary. With these considerations, we invite you to comment, provoke, stake out positions/movements, and engage on the myriad pathways from here. Question prompts given here are an amalgamation of thoughts drawn from presenters, discussants and participants of last weeks workshops, but these should not strictly delimit the discussion.
- How do we think/do/make from “outside the canon”, without losing sight of what it means to be critical? Do we want/need theory to be transformative?
- What is the role of a researcher? To be close to the official subaltern way of thinking? Or is it to think of different ways that identities are structured? Do the examples from the South help us to understand the globe in different ways?
- What do we understand epistemic disobedience to be, and how can it be enacted? How can settler colonialisms, Black geographical thought, decolonial praxis or other such frames advance this work? How can memory be brought into force in research and theory building?
- Did your thinking alter, change, remain or otherwise after your workshop experience? How? Why? In what direction? Engage us in the comments!