‘Arts of Noticing’: Learning, Writing, and Being Affected in More-than-Human Geographies

Type: Paper
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Organizers: Loren March, Timothy Bristow
Chairs: Loren March

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Description

“There is an urgent need to supplement the familiar repertoire of humanist methods that rely on generating talk and text with experimental practices that amplify other sensory, bodily and affective registers and extend the company and modality of what constitutes a research subject.”
- Sarah Whatmore, 2006

“The writers of the Anthropocene […] are seeking the meaning machines and desiring machines through which the dramatic, unknowable trajectory on which we are embarked can become a story and be lived.”
- Mary Louise Pratt, 2017

“We are moved by things. And in being moved, we make things.”
- Sara Ahmed, 2010

Geography’s attention has increasingly turned to questions of relationality, embodiment, affect, and more-than-human encounter in recent years (Lorimer, 2012; Whatmore, 2006). These shifts challenge us to “do geography differently” (Dowling et al, 2017: 824) by following new methodological pathways and engaging with the political and ethical questions entailed in such work. Contributions from a variety of disciplines point to the affective, relational and potentially transformative dimensions of this kind of research, and suggest that if we are to engage with more-than-human geographies we must start with the arts of “noticing” (Head et al, 2014; Poe et al, 2014; Singh, 2017, 2018; Tsing, 2015; Tsing et al, 2017). This session aims to explore geographical practices of noticing and translation, research and writing, attuned to affect, entanglement, liveliness, flux, complexity, and rupture. We seek transformative and generative ways of knowing and writing more-than-human worlds, ways of translating affective encounters, and ways of passing along messages.

Affect is defined variously as the differential capacity to affect and be affected, as a shimmer, or as a resonance existing between bodies that marks us with belonging or non-belonging in a world of encounters (Anderson, 2014; Clough, 2007; Massumi, 2002; Seigworth and Gregg, 2010). Affect entangles us, as both geographers and as beings, in more-than-human configurations and co-becomings with transformative potential. As Avery Gordon (2008: 8) tells us, certain experiences can “draw us affectively, sometimes against our will and always a bit magically, into the structure of feeling of a reality we come to experience, not as cold knowledge, but as a transformative recognition.” Ben Anderson (2012, 2014) similarly suggests that an attention to affect offers us a way of wrestling with moments of change, and of reorienting towards possibility, potentiality, and futurity.

As we conduct work in precarious presents, how might we “learn to be affected” (Latour, 2004; Lorimer, 2008), and how might the resulting research and representational practices generate new possibilities for world making? What are the implications of thinking with non-human kin (Todd, 2017), or of thinking of research as co-produced? How can our work in geography be attuned to the open-endedness of encounters? How might we approach contingent presents, altered spaces in flux, or fleeting ephemera without moves to purity or fixity? How do we research and write knots without untangling them? We are thinking about how to approach our work with “response-ability” (Haraway, 2016), humility, and respect, and how we might cultivate what Stengers (2005) has called an “ecology of practices.” If relational approaches not only uncover but make worlds, how are we to do these worlds justice in translation? How might we attend to and mitigate the threats of ontological and representational violence (Sundberg, 2014)? What sorts of methods or tools are required to unsettle Western, modernist views, or extractive colonial perspectives and ways of seeing? What might it mean to do our work, as Stengers (2005) suggests, “in a minor key”?

Queer, critical race, and critical disability theories of affect point towards its relation to bio- and necropolitics, and hierarchies of mattering (Chen, 2012; Puar, 2007, 2009). As both human and non-human populations are funneled towards premature death or forced life, accountability and change become imperative. Entanglement here might mean wrestling with questions of incapacity, violence, and complicity, as well as with how to support various forms of resurgence and flourishing. We are not simply unevenly implicated in, but unevenly chemically altered by these relations (Chen, 2012; Murphy, 2017). How might our methods be attuned to not only the responsibilities that arise from more-than-human entanglement, but also alternative world-making projects?

Examples of possible methodologies include (but are not limited to): arts-based practices; cross-disciplinary collaborations; decolonial Indigenous methodologies (Gómez-Barris, 2017; Kimmerer, 2013; Simpson, 2014; Todd, 2016; Watts, 2013); critical cartographies and counter-mapping (Buiani, 2018); experimental texts and fictocriticism (Stewart, 2007); visual methodologies (Gómez-Barris, 2017; Rose, 2011); film, video, and moving-image methodologies (Lorimer, 2010; Richardson-Ngwenya, 2014); soundscape practices (Gallagher et al, 2017); more-than-human ethologies (Hodgetts and Lorimer, 2015; Lorimer, 2007); atmospheric research (Hodgetts and Hester, 2017; Lorimer et al, 2019); multispecies and more-than-human ethnographies (Barua, 2014; Kirksey and Helmreich, 2010; Cruikshank, 2005; Lorimer, 2006; Pitt, 2015); multi-sensory ethnographies (Pink, 2015); visceral research (Sexton et al, 2017); and other self-consciously messy methods. Our session explores these approaches to fieldwork and dissemination, and many more.

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Agenda

Type Details Minutes
Presenter Bryan Mark*, York University, Worth the wait and hype? Gentrification, anxiety, and the hipster geographies of boutique ice cream 15
Presenter Maia Larsen*, University of Glasgow, Searching for a Shimmering Magic 15
Presenter Loren March*, University of Toronto, Toronto’s Green Line: Noticing the more-than-human in environmental gentrification 15
Presenter Timothy Bristow*, University of Toronto, Leaving a Trace: Learning to Be Affected in the Anthropocene 15
Presenter Caitlin Grann*, University of New Mexico, Going North to Get South: Navigating Jo Harvey Allen's Alt-Country 15

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