What Comes After Entanglement?

Friday 6th March 2020 | 4.30.00-6.30pm  
Margaret Macmillan Building (MMB) 220
Goldsmiths, University of London
London SE14 6NW

Part of the Pluralistic Variations Lecture Series
Organised by Martin Savransky (Sociology)

What Comes After Entanglement?

The Wrong Framing of the Question

Drawing on examples from environmental and vegan activism, this paper asks what possibilities for action and intervention might exist in the wake of theoretical narratives that have emphasised the entangled composition of the world. The purpose of centralising these entanglements is an ethical one, promising a means of moving beyond a worldview where the human is seen as exceptional, in order to find less anthropocentric ways of conceiving of and acting in the world. Recently, however, there have been growing concerns that these approaches might make it difficult to determine where responsibilities for particular environmental problems really lie, let alone how to meet these responsibilities. This problem has been compounded by the way that relational approaches have been critical of existing strands of animal and environmental activism, which have been depicted as offering insufficiently complex and overly moralistic solutions to ecological problems. This paper works to map some of the tensions between ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ and draws on activist narrative to complicate particular conceptual assumptions. In the process, explore the value of shifting the emphasis away from an ethics based on relationality and entanglement, towards an ethics of exclusion, which pays attention to the entities, practices and ways of being that are foreclosed as particular relations emerge at the expense of others. The paper is based on interview materials from an ongoing project about tensions surrounding contemporary vegan food politics, alongside work from my recent book What Comes After Entanglement?: a title that I ultimately suggest offers a less-than-helpful framing of the question.

Eva Haifa Giraud is a senior lecturer in Media at Keele University, whose research focuses on frictions and affinities between non-anthropocentric theories and activist practice. She has published (or has work forthcoming) on these themes in journals such as Theory, Culture & Society, Sociological Review, Social Studies of Science and New Media & Society. Her monograph What Comes After Entanglement? (Duke University Press) was published in 2019.