Serres Paper Presentation - May 12 in London

Wednesday, 12th May, 5-6:30pm
FW101, Founder’s Building, Royal Holloway University of London

Prof. Jane Bennett (Johns Hopkins University)
“Michel Serres, A Topography of Becoming, and the Practice of History”

Abstract: There is a group of political theorists today who affirm one of the various ontologies of “becoming” that philosophers such as Nietzsche, Bergson, Whitehead, Deleuze and Guattari, and Michel Serres have articulated. For these thinkers, the cosmos is best characterized not as a fixed order but as a flow, generative process, creative evolution, or ontological ruckus. While a focus on the fragility and changeability of orders has received much attention, it is also important, I contend, for political theorists of becoming to try to characterize, to give some specificity to, the strange systematicity proper to a mobile and protean world. My essay draws upon Michel Serres to address the question of how it is that forms manage to appear amidst the general hustle and flow of life. Serres, I contend, offers a rich conceptual and metaphorical repertoire for thinking about the formativity of becoming and for mapping the course of its congealments. I first consider Serres’ metaphysics of “noise,” I then turn to the distinctive phases he discerns with it, and I conclude by drawing out some implications of his topography of becoming for the practice of doing history and political theory.

A one day conference on “The Margins of Citizenship” is planned for November, in collaboration with the Department of Politics, University of Leicester.