WORKSHOP SERIES – Precarity: Poetic and Aesthetic Explorations – Workshop 2: 4 March 2022

Online Rolling Series of Workshops Convened by: Louiza Odysseos, University of Sussex & Ritu Vij, University of Aberdeen

Workshops will last approx. FOUR hours and will take place on Zoom (links TBC). Please email the co-organisers at and to be added to the list for zoom link circulation.


These workshops offer critical-reconstructive avenues into thinking about precarity, disposability and fungibility. Contributors aim to pluralise and re-orient scholarly and activist analyses into realities, categories and analytics of ‘precarity’ and ‘precarisation’ – the always-differential governing of populations through precarity – away from conventional labourist and governancecentric approaches that centre the loss or re-inscription of sovereignty (of state, self, and capital) as their primary object(s) of inquiry. Conventional analyses re-establish being-in-secure-work as normative, whilst failing to consider the post/colonial and slavery specificities of historical and ongoing disposability and fungibility, which unwittingly erases diverse global experiences of permanent insecurity, obscuring the historical geopolitical and subjective conditions of enslavement and colonialism that enabled Euro-American conditions of work/er security through regimes of extraction, land expropriation and native genocide. Drawing on poetic and aesthetic archives and methods produced in the midst of being epistemically known and ontologically constituted as precarious life, they engage wide-ranging artistic production and practices of sociality that rupture precarity’s grammar of representations. Working in co-production with artists and communities, contributors take precarity/disposability/fungibility as generative sites for reimagining life, politics and resistance and recuperating the psychic-social lives of non/postliberal subjects beyond normative sovereignty of self, state and capital.


Chairs: Ritu Vij | Discussant: Louiza Odysseos

Newcastle, NSW, Australia: 00.00 5th March
Hyderabad/Delhi, India: 18.30 4th March
Germany: 14.00 4th March
UK: 13.00 4th March
Rio de Janeiro/Minas Gerais/Bahia, Brazil: 12.00 4th March
Florida/New York/Maine/Ontario: 09.00 4th March
Illinois: 08.00 4th March
Hawaii: 03.00 4th March


1 Shiera S. Malik, DePaul University

Unlearning with Poetics, Aesthetics, and Profanity

This paper starts with Sam Opondo’s Diplomatic Para-citations to explore how experimental aesthetics and poetic creativity opens up space for us to center the stakes of conceptions of precarity as well as what is at stake in the possibilities that they foreclose. With others (Minh-ha, Sharpe, Azoulay, Singh), the paper examines this profane academic-speak on questions of a new precarity for some in the face of permanent precarity for others. These thinkers push aside, disregard even, claims for or against humanism, humanity, legal-liberal institutionalism and against any notion of pastness. They use pictoral images, images in verse, narratives, and various forms of analysis and argumentation in order to interrupt closures and to remain focused on politics and the beings, knowledges, and ecologies that are at stake in contemporary struggles. From their insights, this paper takes from Opondo’s conception of amateur diplomacy and concludes with a set of provocations for thinking about how to identify sites of struggle and productive spaces for critical analysis.


2 Farai Chipato, University of Ottawa

Precarity in a Black Anthropocene: Dispossession and alternative temporalities in Black Speculative Fiction

Precarity in global politics is increasingly being understood through the framing of the Anthropocene, a new geological era characterised by destructive human impacts on planetary life. However, theories of the Anthropocene have been critiqued by Black and Indigenous scholars, who highlight the ways in which environmental issues disproportionately affect marginalised people. These perspectives also note the ways that Anthropocene theorists either ignore or co-opt important ontological and epistemological critiques of modernity that have been developed by those outside the West. In this paper, I wish to build on these critiques, by engaging with the Black speculative fiction of N.K. Jemisin as a form of aesthetic theorising that opens up new ways of thinking about precarity in the Anthropocene. It will explore Jemisin’s post-apocalyptic fiction, and her depiction of the entanglement of precarity, geology, and environmental destruction in the production of speculative worlds. By reading her work as theory, we gain a new perspective on debates about race, climate change and mass extinction, as well as gaining new ways to destabilise the linear temporality of modernity and Anthropocene notions of the end of the world.


3 Emily Merson, McMaster University

The Climate of the Uncanny: Embodying Precarity in Amitav Ghosh’s “Gun Island” and “The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable”

Decolonial speculative fiction writers are truth-tellers who name the injustices of patriarchal colonial impunity through world-building that foregrounds creating new relationships of accountability and care. International Relations scholarship on Cold War era science fiction has demonstrated the intertextual authority of colonialism as a metaphor for understanding the global hegemony of the United States and the neoliberal world order. Decolonial feminist intersectional analyses of embodied hierarchies of precarity in the planetary condition of climate change also call attention to hierarchies of authority in knowledge claims about priorities for climate action, from evidence-based scientific research to Indigenous peoples’ land and water-based knowledge systems. Drawing on Dipesh Chakrabarty’s “The Climate of History in a Planetary Age”, my analysis of decolonial speculative fiction storytelling focuses on characters and communities’ embodied relationships with land and water. In Amitav Ghosh’s book of essays “The Great Derangement” and speculative fiction novel “Gun Island”, transnational uncanny encounters in the planetary condition of climate change are a poetic-aesthetic technique of confronting the dehumanization of the colonial violence of dispossession and the neoliberal abandonment of human dignity in order to envision creating new relationships of decolonial care and accountability.


4 Zeynep Gülşah Çapan, Universität Erfurt

Unwritable Pasts Written: Sociogeny and the Poetics of the Past

Historical IR has approached history in a predominantly uncritical manner as a repository of truth and it has been presented as an additive model whereby more history, more facts and more perspectives included within the story of the international will remedy the shortcomings identified. The article argues that the additive approach has been the result of approaching history unproblematically and framing the issue of Eurocentrism through an absence of history, facts and perspectives. The article will focus on one specific aspect of problematizing history and ask not what is history but rather what does history do, in other words what is the function of history? The focus on the function of history paves the way to discuss its ordering role in the maintaining of narratives of the self. The first part of the article discusses the functions of history and the questions that line of inquiry opens up. The second part of the article focuses on Sylvia Wynter’s discussion of homo narrans as a way to further unpack what history does. The third part of the article building upon the previous discussions discusses the work of Edouard Glissant and Maryse Conde as examples of ‘historical writing’ that work to unsettle the narratives of the Self and functions of history.

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Instagram