One Never Makes the World Alone
Perhaps the most scandalous intervention of ‘kinship’ to modern anxieties about the future, about nuclear proliferation; ocean acidification; climate matters; pandemics; migrancy; science or how we come to know things in a verifiable way; the threat/promise of artificial intelligence; and, what it means to be ‘accountable’ in the age of ‘social’ networks, is that these matters were never human affairs to begin with. Kinship is not only the idea that we are never alone and have never been; it is the suggestion that what “we” means is still in flux, still changing. In short, kinship is exposure: exposure to the worlds microbial and vast that were once poised outside our skin; it is exposure to the elements we often seek to contain. A sort of humiliation, a shared wound that disciplines modern claims to independence. At a time when humanist ideals feel impotent against a slew of environmental and spiritual troubles, we need kinship to do other kinds of work beyond reminding us we are not alone. We need a way of meeting our modern impasses and colonial legacies that open up other spaces of power. We need modes of engaging and listening with traumatic flows that do not incarcerate transformation behind exhausted notions of healing. In this session, Bayo Akomolafe foregrounds some of his concepts: from the “ancestrome” and its odd members, to “Selah” as the ethnography of queer relations that flash up through traumatic openings; from “chasmagraphy” as a way of tracing ‘our’ bodies and finding the others through the gift of disability, to “alterphagy” as the observation that we will hurt each other - and that this mutual ‘eating of the other’ is a condition for emergence. With these helpful allies, Bayo frames kinship as inquiry, as a matter of care, as a cartographical quest for the monstrous limbs and senses we need to navigate endings and beginnings well.
This course is part of Week 8 of the KINSHIP Online Course. In Week 8, we dive into Being & Becoming Kin.
We will begin to draw the course to a close by asking, what next? How can we practise kinship in our own lives? How might we be able to help our communities, and those we don’t belong to?
We will look at how we can reconceive kinship in the context of modernity. After all these discussions and explorations, how have our notions of kinship blossomed? What can we embody going forward?