Troubling Hope: Performing Inventive Connections in Discomforting Times
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In what follows, we revisit the most promising conceptions of “hope” while following Haraway’s admonition to “stay with the trouble.” Thirty-five years after Haraway’s (1991) opening to the Manifesto for Cyborgs where she states that “irony is about contradictions that do not resolve into larger wholes” (p. 149), we move with her ceaseless task to eschew resolution and certainty, urging instead a radical contingency that is fundamental to thought itself. The radical contingency recognizes the limits of what any one individual or one species is capable of unto itself. Any such exceptionalism is spurned. The possibilities of thinking-with, and making-with, are the necessary path of the troubled present. And there is no escaping the present, a present that is thick with affliction but is still unfinished and ongoing. We enter into the thick presence of our ongoing conversation around hope by revisiting the concepts that help us to think our thoughts, exploring how these conceptions worked and did not work for our collective thinking. We then build on the concepts’ appendages, their attachments and detachments to our conversation around hope, by sketching Haraway’s materialist challenge to hope (and despair), and her refusal of futurism and contingency that raise some questions about the potentialities of “critical hope.” Finally, we situate our work within an understanding of the “pedagogical work of the concept,” drawing a line from Haraway to Stengers to Deleuze, which allows us to explore resonance between concepts and posit a “pedadogy of the concept” to situate the limits of hope and potentialities of “staying with the trouble.” To work towards a pedagogy that “stays with the trouble,” we extend Haraway’s critique that it matters “what thoughts think thoughts” by suggesting that it also matters which feelings we feel with, highlighting the vital necessity of feeling to the project of staying with the trouble.
KeywordsHaraway Critical hope Feminist new materialism Pedagogy of discomfort
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