March 20, 2017: Troubling Time/s and Ecologies of Nothingness

Speaker: Karen Barad

“Troubling Time/s and Ecologies of Nothingness: Re-turning, Re-membering, and Facing the Incalculable”

World Art Centre

20 March 2017 at 6 pm

Free and open to the public

Reception to follow 

In this public talk, Karen Barad diffractively reads insights from quantum theory and Kyoko Hayashi’s first-hand accounts of Nagasaki bombing through one another, bringing to the fore a troubling of scalar distinctions between the world of subatomic particles and that of colonialism, war, and environmental destruction. Attempting to think through what possibilities remain open for an embodied re-membering of the past against the colonialist practices of erasure and the related desire to set time aright, Barad calls for thinking a certain undoing of time, a work of mourning accountable to those most profoundly affect by ongoing ecological destruction and by racist, colonialist, and nationalist violence, human and otherwise. This task is related to rethinking the notion of the void. Against its Newtonian interpretation as the absence of matter and energy, as that which does not matter and thus works to justify colonial occupation, Barad argues that the QFT void is a spectral domain where life and death are originarily entangled, and inanimate matter itself gives itself to be thought in its mortal finitude. The void is rather the yearning and the imagining of what might have been, and thus also the infinitely rich ground of imagining possibilities for living and dying otherwise.

Karen Barad is Professor of Feminist Studies, Philosophy, and History of Consciousness at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Barad’s Ph.D. is in theoretical particle physics and quantum field theory. Barad held a tenured appointment in a physics department before moving into more interdisciplinary spaces. Barad is the author of Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (Duke University Press, 2007) and numerous articles in the fields of physics, philosophy, science studies, poststructuralist theory, and feminist theory. Barad’s research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Hughes Foundation, the Irvine Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Barad is the Co-Director of the Science & Justice Graduate Training Program at UCSC.

Presented by the School for the Contemporary Arts at SFU, with support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.