EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST: Composting Compassion – a live action and online roundtable discussion
On 24th to 26th October, UNE’s node of the Centre for the History of Emotions is hosting a conference called “Compassion, A Timely Feeling”. In response to this CFP, Jennifer Hamilton is proposing taking the online reading group the the next steps in a more public presentation: a work in progress roundtable discussion. Details below. Get in touch with proposals and/or questions!
The prefixes of composting and compassion come from the same root: “com-“ signifies “together, with”. That said, composting and compassion are not necessarily complementary concepts. While compost’s etymology implies “to place together or with”, compassion’s suggests “to suffer together or with”. This EOI seeks short proposals for slow and careful reflections on the possibilities of compassion as a critical affect in feminist environmental humanities. Some questions to consider are: is compassion a necessary component of composting (Hamilton and Neimanis, 2018) or is it something quite different? Moreover, Haraway’s work on companion species (2008) made “becoming with” a key conceptual orientation in the field, so does co-becoming necessarily imply or require compassion? What other emotional states emerge in the mud of composting and how do they relate to the idea of compassion? Is compassion possible beyond the human sphere? How is the “com-“ of “compassion” the same or different from other “com-” words we like to use (e.g. compost, companion, common, community, complaint, complement)?
While much remains in question, one thing this EOI assumes is that despite a shared focus on companionate relations of all kinds (human and otherwise) and the strange experiment of placing things together that is composting itself, “compassion” is not a common keyword in our related fields. Thus, to get this conversation going, the roundtable will work as follows:
- 5-10 minute research presentations are invited in response to the following prompts: how does compassion currently figure (or not) in your research and thinking; and/or how does the prompt to consider compassion newly animate (or not) your key questions?
- The presenters are requested to read Lauren Berlant’s short 14-page critical parsing the term in “Compassion (or Withholding)” (2004).
- On top of our own understandings of composting, companion species and other concerns of the feminist environmental humanities, these short presentations and Berlant’s take on compassion will structure a shared work-in-progress, roundtable discussion.
Please contact Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org by September 10 with a short proposal (150-200 words) if you are interested in being involved in the mixed platform (digital/live action) composting feminisms roundtable “Composting Compassion”. Final length of presentations will depend on the volume of expressions of interest. You may propose particpate from Armidale or remotely via zoom.
- Berlant, Lauren. “Compassion (or Withholding) in Compassion: The Culture and Politics of an Emotion. Routledge, 2014.
- “Com-, Prefix.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/36719. Accessed 26 Aug. 2019.
- Hamilton, Jennifer Mae, and Astrida Neimanis. “Composting Feminisms and Environmental Humanities.” Environmental Humanities, vol. 10, no. 2, Nov. 2018, pp. 501–27, doi:10.1215/22011919-7156859.
- Haraway, Donna Jeanne. When Species Meet. University of Minnesota Press, 2008.
Image Credit: “Love is All Around, You Only Have to Seek It” by J. Michael Raby from https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmr-holdit/30905174334 Creative Commons: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/