Exhaustion, Endurance and living on...I: theorising exhaustion

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Hampton Room, Omni, East
Organizers: Leila Dawney, Thomas Jellis
Chairs: Leila Dawney


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 (Nixon 2011; Baraitser 2017), wearing us down until we no longer have the capacity to imagine life otherwise. Or they debase us in addictive circuits that render us incapable of living on, where the human as it is currently formed has no capacity to thrive in a broken world (Gumbs 2018). The experiential modes through which this kind of violence occurs has been predominantly theorised in terms of exhaustion. Indeed, exhaustion is something that is increasingly attracting attention within the humanities and social sciences (Berlant 2011; Povinelli 2011; Fisher 2014; Pelbart 2015; Schaffner 2016; Chabot 2018), as well as within geography (Brigstocke 2016; Wilkinson and Ortega-Alcazar, forthcoming).

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 session addresses these concerns through the following questions: What does it mean to posit endurance as the means through which to live on? What are the temporalities that inform spaces of exhaustion and endurance? And what moral subtexts are at work in their demands to tolerate, withstand, or make the best of? In addition, what forms of critique refuse these totalising narratives, and what figures or forms can be put to work to counter them?


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Thomas Jellis*, University of Oxford, Leila Dawney, University of Brighton, Exhaustion, endurance, and living on... 20 8:00 AM
Presenter Anna Davidson*, University of Huddersfield, Futilities: exhausting (in)human energies 20 8:20 AM
Presenter Keith Woodward*, University of Wisconsin, Extraction and Exhaustion 20 8:40 AM
Presenter Vanessa Weber*, Hamburg University, Laura Kemmer, Center for Metropolitan Studies, Berlin, Annika Kühn*, University of Hamburg, Standby. Reconfiguring Modes of Endurance and Exhaustion 20 9:00 AM
Presenter Angharad Closs Stephens*, , Urban Atmospheres and Transversal Geographies 20 9:20 AM

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