Here we are, our social space has been preempted by a war rationale, and our solidarity spaces are enacted by official discourses about sacrifices to the benefice of a non-determined community.
Care and solidarity are not sacrifices, they are mutual relations at the basis of society, they enrich all participants. Advocating for a reevaluation of professions that are fundamental to society is important and does not preclude to acknowledge a political position that aims to clarify what we call our relation to the world, on the basis of caring practices, placing those at the heart of human organization, as they effectively always have been.
Organization is a strategy of alliances, it does not only engage humans, the construction of our systems happens across different species and all elements. Nonetheless current thinking of our relations to the non human do not always acknowledge its politics while, specific elements, like the virus, historically tend to be bothering. Elisabeth Povinelli explains the virus exists as a modality of the non-living to create alliances with the living (Povinelli 2018). She uses the virus as a figure in her Geontologies where she coins geontopower, as the capacity to define what is alive. Across her studies, she presents a relation to the world that engages many different physical states in different alliances, despite and across actual settler colonial domination and associated geontopower.
What form or geometry can those different alliances take? Many arguments have been held about their route within groups and the possible spheres of interference. Povinelli, in her “anthropology of the otherwise” presents them as embagged spaces, she reminds us that “all embagged spaces are the result of not merely two strings hanging from the end of an open, if concealed mouth, but many strings tying and retying the body and its contents.” The question then becomes, are our organizations woven? And if so, where are the existing alliances and transformative spaces? More precisely should we be asking in which liminal spaces do we situate our collective apprenticeship during the past couple months? What forms of organization are happening that counter the crisis and rather than claiming resilience, offer perennial propositions and open paths for research.
From past experience and exchanges (to be explained) we can maybe pull out a few possibilities:
- Knowledge sharing infrastructures, DETAILS
- Trust and solidarity, DETAILS
- TransBorder experiences. DETAILS
In the past couple months, relations did recompose themselves as we globally unite around this on line map presenting an absolute number of deaths, country by country, while each one of us in our own gaze considered this information distilled to us in an unreal fashion. But, relations also recomposed along our on-line communities, and an many important initiatives started and hopefully will last. In my gaze it felt that despite the almost omnipresent governmental presence, human networks recomposed themselves along the course of confinement along the lines of a solidarity network, not only because we benevolently provided necessary goods for each-other, but also because we shared opinions, information, and a lot of imaginations along the modalities of our existing independent infrastructures, trusting each other, across borders. These, like everything that happened, did not emerge now out of nowhere, those networks and their infrastructure existed before, they were intertwined and tied within the organization of liberal societies, in different forms and flux within our groups and though individuals.
Since this month of march, enclosed in our living spaces we join our different flux in a possible tentative to recombine information, apparently experts think this can be accounted for, and the famous imperial study models that drove many political decision counted that confinement augmented the contacts between people living in a same family by 25% increasing by as much the chances of contamination (they did not say what happened if people sharing the house were not from the same family), I do not know what kind of relational scheme they choose to get to this conclusion, but I am certain I do not feel any correspondence with it.
As physical flux recombines in our houses exacerbating existing hierarchies inequities, social constraints, as well as giving the occasion to some of us to confirm the richness of our differences and their life choices grounds new network organization exacerbate our need to share practices of care, maybe the virus can help us identify some models.
- Transmission or Contamination
“We are the Virus”, this meme circulated a lot over the past weeks, signifying: we are the ones who are a nuisance (in this case to ecology). Strangely enough to me it had a completely different connotation, in the XXth century, I remember a group of friends calling themselves “Les Virus” considering the possibilities to contaminate what they considered a society full of prejudice. Virus was a metaphor for the possibilities to transmit ideas across immunity borders of social structures. How did the metaphor of the virus transformed from penetrating into a system into transfering social responsibility to the individual who becomes responsible of the national well being. What type of agent transformed our relation to health in an individual responsibility detached from existing social organization. An agential cut (Barad 2007) in this systematic individualisation would be to rework our notions towards transmission of care, information and support rather than cutting contamination.
By these affirmations we continue to consider ourselves outsiders from the social and ecological systems we build. Indeed just like the virus, we, occidentals, will not be eliminated, even if access to an easy lifestyle is already constrained to an always smaller number of people, it seems it continues to adopt and promote the same protectionist discourse that promotes borders instead of solidarity. And where “contamination is definitely part of the equation.”
In the current situation we have been observing transmission routes and developing barriers to protect us from contamination, what would then be the other geometries and invisibility relational organizations that have been efficient in the past 2 months.
Following the mutating virus we could seek for the liminality of those mutations, where did we transform to the point that we accept to let our loved ones die alone because laws and regulations force us to do so. Where is it that while help and care are reliable infrastructures that prevent us collectively from contamination, we keep constrained by rules and regulations that only enforce separation and abandonment. The geometry of the relation marks the necessity of differentiated strategies to maintain our humanity and to continue accessing to different agencies.
This transformation started at a moment when many places in the world felt on the turning point as demonstrations were gaining traction with so many people involved. When suddenly our solidarity networks mutated like all of us it feels they have both relocalized and focused on the immediate needs of practical local solidarity and emergency needs, and created resonances accrossborders as strategies repeated everywhere. Maybe it is now the moment to look for new forms might be emerging that can help redefine our possibilities to address geontopower (Povinelli 2018) following the mutations provoked by the virus.
The sanitary discourse presents a unified corporeal view of our society where each identified atomic individual is equally responsible for the transmission of diseases. On the contrary, experiencing the world resembles more to interrelated intra-acting phenomenas that constantly reconfigure relations and individuals iteratively (Barad 2007). The formations that provide care are equally transformative and this has been seized by aparatuses that feedback to different communities, such as autonomous networks and resistance organisations.