Melancholic repetition and hope in beginnings again
Updated: Oct 4, 2019
This post is still - by October 2019 - in the drafting... I have decided to let it go out as it is at the moment....
As I take some rest this weekend and start to slow down a bit after what has been a hectic few months of new teaching, admin and feeling my way into my new institutional space at Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett University I am reflecting on the success of last week's #DisorientRace.
8 months in the planning and organising, celebrating 10 years of WhiteSpaces and inaugurating new openings out to the world in this work, the event cemented new and hoped for collaborations and provided nourishment and sustenance for longstanding connections.
This tweet from The Public Meeting articulates beautifully and simply the ways in which my aims on organising the event were met at least for this person.
And yet I have an 'ugly feeling' a 'sentiment of disenchantment' (Sian Ngai, 2005) a mind-body state of betweenness and undecidability that I have written about before in my work and that I liken there to Ranja Khanna's (2012) 'unpleasurability'. This 'unpleasurability' is a function of the melancholic neoliberal institutional context that frame my anti-racist activities and desires and which means that
'identifying what to be for and what to be against is a complex, if not impossible business' (Hunter, 2015:126). .
This challenge of ambiguity, this suspended state between hope and despair is part of what makes the work so tiring which feeds into and off this suspended state and round again.
It gives me great pleasure to be involved in the collective effort to provide spaces for people to do the collaborative work of talking, thinking and challenging together. And this pleasure is reflected back in engagements.
As much as contributors - audience and speakers - enjoyed the evening there is tiredness which relates to feelings of 'unpleasurability' that it is important to recognise and honour in these activities too. The conversation between the event's Chair @Anj Handa and some interested colleagues on linked in are testament to these affects and effects.
But it is really important to be specific about what if anything is new in WhiteSpaces and in our collaborative work and part of the point of #DisorientRace was to challenge lineal colonial temporalities of progress challenge the newness of pp132
Indeed for me it is not new, but it is relatively unique and distinctive and there are important reasons for that.
some of the questions stand out for me - around labels and institutional naming - debate over diversity as a dilution.