Radical Everyday Practice. Gillian Rose, Ernst Bloch, and seven activist- philosophers of Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Aotearoa

Author: Francis, Sasha

Date: 2020

Publisher: Victoria University of Wellington

Type: Scholarly text, Master's

Link to this item using this URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10063/8858

Victoria University of Wellington


How are we to live? How do we sustain our emotional commitment to utopia? Answering these questions necessarily calls for a reconceptualisation of subjectivity and sociality, in order to overcome the depoliticisation, resignation and despair captured by the neoliberal subject. Drawing together qualitative and theoretical research under Ruth Levitas’ framework for the ‘imaginary reconstitution of society’ – Utopia as Method – I argue utopia is the otherwise that we navigate, create and learn of, together, through every moment. Where the neoliberal subject signals a collapse of subjectivity that contributes to the depoliticisation and resignation of our contemporary times, I offer an alternative account of subjectivity through Gillian Rose and Ernst Bloch. In an original theoretical encounter, I connect Rose’s concepts of reason and ‘inaugurated mourning’ with Bloch’s concepts ‘the darkness of the lived moment’ and the ‘not-yet,’ towards imagining subjectivity differently. Further, through six conversations with seven activist-philosophers from Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington) – Jen Margaret, Jo Randerson, Thomas LaHood, Richard D. Bartlett, Benjamin Johnson, Cally O’Neill and Kassie Hartendorp – I make visible already-existing emancipatory practices and subjectivities from within radical Aotearoa (New Zealand,) from which we can learn and locally ground our imaginings. Combining the conversations held with the activist-philosophers with the alternative account of subjectivity developed, I move outwards – from the individual and the particular to the collective – to specifically name five key modes of radical everyday practice: embodiment, not knowing, trust, care, and imagining. Understood as an articulation of docta spes, or a praxis of educated hope, these five modes capture a sense of everyday sociality imagined otherwise, as well as articulate a collaborative, sustainable and localised account of the emotionally demanding pedagogical pursuit towards the realisation and experience of utopia. An answer to the first question – how are we to live? – is thus processually found within the second question – how do we sustain our emotional commitment to utopia?

Subjects: Utopia, Activism, Grass-roots