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Panel 2. Improbable Commons: A poetics of urban sociality


  • Professor AbdouMaliq Simone, Faculty of Social Sciences, Senior Professorial Fellow, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.


Through what kinds of orientation, practices, affective intensities, political engagements, and technics does it become possible to inhabit contemporary urban conditions differently. Not as a matter of specific entities, categories, geographies or interests. But in an improbable coalescence of the disparate capable of touching each other, across the fragments and fractures of urban space and times. If the future as a horizon of multiple disjunctions and possibilities is captured by the reign of probabilities and adversarial networks, then what is the terrain of the improbable? A way of life not indebted to calculation, redemption, or culmination. A way of life not indebted to determinations of who counts, and in what ways; a life beyond constant assessment.

If the future as a specific realizable trajectory of promises has largely given way to the maneuvers through which financialization capitalizes on calculative relations between probability and uncertainty, gives way to seemingly interminable indebtedness, where one is always owing the future, and gives way to the dissipation of both national and global narratives of progress, then it is time which becomes intensely politicized. This is manifested in the various sentiments regarding the end of times, redemptive time, geologic time, time of the occult, the expendability of all of those not properly regarded as sufficiently human. Yet it also entails times that do not owe anything to external validation or accounting procedures, in what Stephanie Wakefield calls a “war of times”—a diverging of the very means of inhabiting present conditions—an opening for new gatherings, and ways of being together.

Presentations then might address some of the following questions:

What are the methodologies of emergent convocations, complementary deployments of difference, and circulations of bodies with and through each other that constitute a new substrate of urban life?

What might be an urban politics of exorbitance—forms of sociality that cannot be confined to conventional entities but exemplify forms of “flesh” that extend across different persons and non-persons going beyond what can be rationally thought?

What might be a politics of divergent temporalities in an urban world replete with different rhythms of intersecting practices, sensibilities, and livelihoods?

Keywords: multiple times, transversal collective life, blackness, urban bodies, inventive socialities

Centro de Estudios de Conflicto y Cohesión Social.

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