Exhaustion, endurance, and living on...

Authors: Thomas Jellis*, University of Oxford, Leila Dawney, University of Brighton
Topics: Cultural Geography
Keywords: exhaustion, endurance,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Hampton Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Recent critical literature focuses on the way in which we are ground down by barbarisms: by the biopolitical modes of abandonment that confound us and block us at every turn; by the snares of cruel optimism. These forms of late capitalist violence are described as slow and attritional, wearing us down until we no longer have the capacity to imagine life otherwise. The experiential modes through which this kind of violence occurs has been predominantly theorised in terms of exhaustion. All too often, the response to exhaustion is simply to endure. This mode of response weighs down on us heavily: endurance as ‘living on’, as world-making in the context of structural and slow violences, or as simply being resilient in the face of it all. While geographies of endurance and exhaustion make visible enervating forms of contemporary power, we posit that more needs to be done to articulate precisely what is meant by such categories and to shed critical light on the concepts themselves. This introductory paper introduces the conceptual themes of exhaustion and endurance, providing an overview of how these ideas have been theorised in philosophical and critical literature, and posing some questions for discussion during the session.

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