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In/finity is now: Temporality and Impasse in the Time of Precarities

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Organizer: Toshi Tomori

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In a lecture given in 1996, the late novelist Toni Morrison postulates, “Infinity is now, apparently, the domain of the past…Twenty or forty years into the twenty-first century appears to be all there is of the “real time” available to our imagination…(In) the late twentieth century (unlike in the earlier ones) it seems to have no future that can accommodate the species that organizes, employs, and mediates on it. The course of time seems to be narrowing to a vanishing point beyond which humanity neither exists nor wants to. It is singular, this diminished, already withered desire for a future.”


The seminar seeks an open-ended discussion from interminable or ongoing projects that concern the working throughs of the present and future in the absence of a legible futurity. Accepting the impasse as a productive opening, the seminar welcomes previously impossible ideas, associations, and solidarities that concern potentials and limits of cultural and scholarly productions that deal with or affected by the multiple catastrophes of the era, from climate crisis; adjunctism and the gig economy, and surging xenophobia and fascism. Of interest is the vexing issue of temporality: In the absence of future, what can we do in the time being? On one hand, a voluntary withdrawal from the current state may engender formulations and discovery of discourses from unexpected elsewheres. On the other, embedding oneself in the struggles of the moment (time-being-ness) may result in discovering solutions or building upon existing concepts and communities.


The seminar welcomes papers that show how literature, film, and activism are engaged with thinking about a future that is, as all indications show, impossible. Also invited are papers that look into how artists and writers dissented or negotiated their ideals through repressive political and economic regimes that, at that time, seemed inevitable. Papers that deal with texts that are and were pregnant with ideas and messages for belated readings are encouraged too. Welcome are papers that also deal with their own impasses or blockages.


Topics might include the following but are not limited to them:


Non-linear temporalities

Incommensurability of texts

Photography and filmed images of repression and protests

Gaps and opening in films and literatures

Time embedding in texts

Against the grain readings


Adjunctism and the neo-liberal university

Dismantling fascism and racism

Underrepresented and repressed subjectivities

Being inside or outside one’s time

Art and scholarship in totalitarian regimes

Precarious identities and communities


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