From climate change to mushrooming authoritarianisms, natural disasters to economic and humanitarian crises, contemporary ontology is overwhelmingly problematized as a multiplicity of emergencies, which calls for faster and swifter modes of action, and ostracizes any other engagement as regressive, reactionary, and unrealistic. This talk puts a question mark to the political imperative of conceptualizing social and political issues on the basis of emergencies. For that, it resuscitates Dostoevsky’s idiot. As a figure of uninitiation (a la Deleuze and Guattari), who constantly reminds us to slow down in whatever task we are undertaking (a la Isabelle Stengers), the idiot opens up the possibility of a different political engagement. Rejecting both nihilist and moralist alternatives, it instead offers the aleatory prospects of encounter in transitory spaces, and suggests to suspend time through the unknown of radical empiricism.
Sanem Güvenç-Salgırlı is a Vancouver-based scholar, who currently teaches science studies inspired social-political theory at Emily Carr University of Arts and Design. Before moving to Vancouver in 2016, she was an assistant professor of sociology at Marmara University, Istanbul, Turkey; and before that a PhD student and an associate of the Fernand Braduel Center at Binghamton University. Lying at the intersection of science studies, political theory, and historical sociology, her most recent work explores the concepts of the swarm and the cloud, and is particularly inspired by, and a product of the social movements of the post-2010 period. She has published articles and essays in academic, semi-academic, and activist journals in English and Turkish.