Published in  
November 9, 2018

Let us slow down: Acting in turbulent times

Dr. Akomolafe speaks at the 2018 ColaborAmerica event in Rio de Janeiro shortly after Brazil has elected a new leader, whose antecedents have led many to despair about hope in increasingly fascist times. Bayo’s invitation is that there are cracks in the highway, and that there are openings to explore when one slows down to notice the invitations alive in the world today. Below is a summary of the talk.

There is wisdom in slowing down, because that shift in motion might allow us notice a different path hiding in the obviousness of the familiar. But what could it mean to slow down in times of urgency? And what are the conditions that make ‘slowing down’ a sensible (or sensuous) response to the many recalcitrant crisis events that are proving resistant to resolution?

Many scientists think our peculiar period of human-engineered landscapes deserves a specific label – one which emphasizes just how much the world has been irreparably altered by human activity. The name, Anthropocene, serves this alarming function of reminding us that we are in trouble, but more importantly the term asks us to rethink everything we imagined to be true or granted. We are learning that we are not only fully in nature, but that nature is fully in us; we are learning to see that humans are not discrete or solitary actors in the world, but immersed in, instigated by, and in touch with the environment. This realization constitutes a burden on neoliberal and humanist figures of the activist, and calls to question the assumptions associated with the confidence that we can unilaterally respond to our collective troubles or “save the day”.

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Bayo Akomolafe asks: “What if the way we respond to our problems is part of the problem?” What questions are possible today? What if the way we act actually serves to reproduce the same conditions we are striving to escape? And are there particular configurations of ideas and bodies that can open us up different modes of thinking and engagement?

This talk and ritual session is about a ‘postactivism’ that invites new practices by reconfiguring specific situations in post-human(ist) senses, thereby cleaving open new arrangements of power.