Smuts Memorial Lecture: Compression and Inoperable Relations

9 November 2017, 17:15 - 19:00

Large lecture theatre, Department of Geography, Downing Site

This lecture is part of the Smuts Memorial Lecture Series Afterlives of the South: Relations Across the Urban Postcolony, and is free and open to all. BOOK YOUR TICKET HERE.



Smuts Memorial Lecture Series
Lecture Two: Compression and Inoperable Relations
Speaker: AbdouMaliq Simone (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity)


For Alexander Galloway, compression is a mode of appearance that need not constantly “announce” itself and its networked positions; a mode of appearance that circumvents the imperative that everything must relate. As such compression is not the simultaneous folding in of the powerful or the weak; neither one thing nor another, but a withdrawal from distinction. Overarching narratives, acts of subsuming in urban life are inoperable. Details may carry the traces of the relations that constituted them; but the details are free from serving as locked-in evidence of particular dispositions and instead can be seen as secretions that may mix and congeal in ways that go beyond our available vocabularies. So the point becomes how to live amongst these details. It is a matter of adopting different ways of sensing that navigate through the details as weird alliances or inoperable relations. Such alliances refer to what might be going on without the obligation to marshal specific forms of verification. Cities have always been full of things existing side-by-side that obviously do connect but do not leave discernible traces; so many events acting in concert but seeming to concretize nothing. Inoperable relations reset the scale of the city by ceaselessly changing the modulations of social life as if they were always already in sync with a pulsating aesthetics that manage to “stay out of sight”. These reflections will draw upon work which explore the ways in which mega-developments of so-called affordable housing are inhabited across Southeast Asia.

• As there are three events in this Smuts Memorial Lecture Series, you might wish to attend the first and third lectures as well.