Pluriversality and the problem of critique: ecology, care, and the work of thought

Authors: Mark Jackson*, University of Bristol
Topics: Geographic Theory, Cultural and Political Ecology, Social Theory
Keywords: difference, critique, care, pluriversal, decoloniality, ontology
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: 8201, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The discursive apparatus of post- and decolonial critique have long articulated themselves within and across grammars of difference. Most of their central questions resolve around the navigation of difference, its impossible translation, and the ethico-political imperatives that analyse, reflexively, the differences the question of difference makes to critical action. Difference and critique emerge as modern concepts, however, from an analytic tradition that frames both the question of difference, and the subsequent question of critically navigating a responsibility to difference, from a phenomenalist, epistemic practice rooted in universalising binaries: subject/object, nature/culture, thought/action, experience/world. Recent work in the social sciences and humanities suggests, however, that this normative tradition limits the decolonising capacities of criticism, in particular its ethico-political justifications, to adapt to the plural demands of entangled and incommensurable lifeworlds. Drawing from interdisciplinary work on pluriversality in anthropology, human geography, bio-semiotics, indigenous studies, environmental humanities, and political ecology, this presentation will argue for the need to re-think the epistemic problem of critique, and specifically its ethico-political significance, in light of ontologies of radical incommensurability. Instead of reflexively negotiating the limits of the sayable qua criticism, the paper will argue for how care, rather than agonism or impossibility, is the constitutive ground for thinking about, and with, decolonial difference. The paper will argue that critique must transform from reflection on ineluctable conceptual limits to immanent practices of mutuality. The paper concludes by exploring examples of mutuality that manifest care as an ontological form of critique open to vulnerability and affirmation

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