Boredom, intimacy and governance in 'normalized' times of crisis 
Miia Halme-Tuomisaari (Lund University)
Julie Billaud (Graduate Institute in Geneva)
Ghassan Hage (University of Melbourne)
Start time:
2 August, 2014 at 9:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

This panel explores boredom as an alarmingly prevalent feature of modernity, and relies on Ghassan Hage's notion of 'stuckedness' to discuss how it relates to intimacy and governance.

Long Abstract

What is boredom and how does it relate to intimacy and governance? This panel explores these questions by conceptualizing boredom as an alarmingly prevalent feature of modernity, produced by professional endeavours, routinized private lives and even popular entertainment. We depart from Ghassan Hage's notion of 'stuckedness' as something effectively negating what Tim Ingold describes as 'being alive', namely 'staying in motion'.

This panel invites ethnographic considerations to investigate how boredom elevates self-control into a type of 'spiritual nobility'. Through Lauren Berlant's notion of 'cruel optimism' we trace the polarities of boredom: discontentment, rebellion and resignation, versus compliance, docility and security. How does boredom contribute to a sense of alienation, a lost intimacy to oneself? What happens when optimism-sustaining versions of intimacy meet normative practices, fantasies and ideologies organising everyday worlds? How does boredom encourage social cohesion among those sharing the wait - real or imagined. What kind of collective identities are generated as corollary?

Finally, we ask: why - when the choice to depart exists - do people rather choose boredom than abandon institutions on which they have lost confidence, located as well within the global financial sector, international (aid) organizations or the academia? How does our collective 'cruel optimism' shape our shared subjectivities, transforming us into more docile 'subjects'? What kind of political, ideological and economic ends are served, and who benefits from the tacit acceptance of boredom?

Accepted papers: