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Time, Precarity, and The Nights of Occupy

Friday February 8th, 3:30-4:30pm in Saunders 220 (Refreshments served at 3:15pm)

Sarah Sharma; Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Studies

While much of Occupy’s political power is rooted in its spatial tactic, the movement’s temporal realities are also significant to understanding its complexities. This talk considers those realities, specifically turning to the night: a time when the spatial practice of occupying and the temporal contours of of precarity find each other in a strange embrace. To be precarious means to live in something akin to a permanent state of night with no guarantee of dawn. In the dark, new and unheard of demands emerge for the first time. In these darknesses, what is revealed about the conceptual vitality and political possibility of ‘generalized precarity’ and the power of space as the determining ‘ground’ of politics? It is at night where fault-lines of the movement rupture to the surface in new ways. It is also during the night when the spatial tactics of resistance reveal themselves as most limited.

This talk turns to the Occupy movements as a way to introduce a broader argument that I engage with in my forthcoming book, In the Meantime. In it, I examine what I see is the problematic dominance of space as the ultimate site of political life. Since the “spatial turn,” cultural theory has paid close attention to how space is imbricated in games of power but temporal power, it would seem, is more subtly and quietly asserted and as such has gone unremarked.

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