On Conviviality as Potentiality

The focal point of our research rests in the reworking of the notion of conviviality as potentiality, framed in decolonial and subaltern contexts.

Relevant and recent examples of theoretical work that critically illuminate the connection between conviviality and inequality in terms of race, gender and class relations, borders and migrations include the works of Lugones (2007), Gržinić (2018) and Pugliese (2015).

Another example of re-working the concept of conviviality was put forth in Achille Mbembe’s Critique of Black Reason. Mbembe (2017, 180) concludes his book with an epilogue titled “There is Only One World,” implying both what he calls the Becoming Black of the world as the paradoxical universalization of the Black condition in neoliberal global capitalism, as well as an idea Édouard Glissant named Tout-Monde, All world. “There is only one world […] composed of a totality of a thousand parts. Of everyone. Of all worlds” (2017, 180); we share the emphasis Mbembe puts on sharing the world with others as a system of exchange, reciprocity, and mutuality (181).

Conviviality and pandemic

The theoretical context of pandemic involves narratives of contagiousness which re-structure space, belonging and existing societal relationships. In our framing we will also look beyond the current COVID-19 outbreak, as historically every model of power had its own history of contagiousness. The wider context of the pandemic opens up our research on conviviality to structures of societal relationship in the neo-colonial world order that are being critically addressed by decolonial and subaltern theories and art practices. The theoretical frame we will engage with includes investigations of narratives of contagiousness, oppressive border regimes, biopower and necropower (Deleuze 1992; Gržinić 2018, 2016; Stanescu 2013; Esposito 2006; Foucault 2003; Mbembe 2003, 2019), and more broadly the critical works on the cyclical occurrence of crisis as states of emergency in capitalism (Agamben 2005; Mbembe 2003; Baneryee 2006).