Forskarseminarium: "The Revolutionary’s Two Temporalities?:.." med Elliott Prasse-Freeman


Datum: måndag 7 oktober 2024

Tid: 13.00 – 14.30

Plats: B600

Forskarseminarium: "The Revolutionary’s Two Temporalities?: Activism, Failure, and the Event" med Elliott Prasse-Freeman


Radical activists struggle to assess actions both for their relatively immediate effects, and for their potential longer-term consequences. Provisional failures can become resources for future victories, while erstwhile successes can dissolve after apparent achievement. Drawing from ethnography with Burmese revolutionaries, this article shows how activists entertain the perpetual possibility of defeat by appearing to engage two divergent temporal strategies divided by their respective orientations towards failure: in one, activists inoculate themselves against the possibility of failure by embedding themselves in constant struggles that efface ends by committing to means; in the other, activists embrace a contingent temporality vis-à-vis ultimate outcomes, thereby remaining responsive to evolving conditions. Yet, as activists oscillate between the two, the distinction dissolves, revealing that time itself is not manipulated, but various intersubjective renderings of actions’ efficacy. Ultimately, while time itself is not mutable, engagement with failure (partially) explains why activist subjectivity remains so. 


Elliott Prasse-Freeman, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at NUS, has conducted long-term fieldwork in Myanmar and it environs. His first book (Rights Refused, Stanford University Press, 2023) focuses on political activism in Burma, while his current book project examines Rohingya ethnogenesis amidst dislocation and mass violence. His work has appeared in American Ethnologist, Current Anthropology, Journal of Peasant Studies, Public Culture, and Comparative Studies in Society and History, and he's the co-editor of Anthropological Theory Commons, a place where you should consider submitting your short-form anthro theory writings!