Crisis and economies of living (Kent Law School) – Marina Lathouri

Marina Lathouri

(Architectural Association, London, School of Architecture & University of Cambridge, School of Architecture)

Crisis and economies of living

Symposium: Crisis: Knowledge, History, Law
Date: 29/1/2016
Time: All day
Venue: University of Kent, Kent Law School


Reinhart Koselleck argues in Critique and Crisis that crisis is a philosophical construct, which came to signify “a permanent concept of ‘history’,” “a historically immanent transitional phase.” This reading of the idea of crisis suggests the present as possible moment of rupture and dis-continuity, as well as, a locus within which, new directions of thought may emerge. However, when being in crisis becomes a state of mind, the norm rather than its resolution (the latter thought of as essentially eschatological concept and temporal beginning), the concept of crisis loses its programmatic aspect and projective potential. Jacques Derrida in his Economies de la crise describes this loss (the crisis of the idea of crisis) as “the symptom of,” and at the same time, “the jostling attempt to save a world (kosmos) which we no longer inhabit”, where “there is no longer oiko-nomia, oiko-logia, inhabitable place in which we feel ‘at home’.”

In light of a new geography of movement – economic and social, of shifting forms of political authority and jurisdiction, what are the terms in which modes of inhabitation can be re-framed? How would invariants and everyday rituals of living stripped from embedded meanings and symbols be reinstated to produce forms of co-living and collective consciousness? At this point, Jean Luc Nancy’s idea of exchange developed in La Communaute affrontee and registered in the preposition ‘with’/’avec’ provides an exact and effective locus. “Neither communion nor atomisation, solely the partaking in a place” the ‘with’ (“L’ ‘avec’ est sec et neutre: ni communion ni atomisation, seulement le partage d’un lieu, tout au plus un contact: un etre ensemble sans assemblage,”) outlines multiple micro-economies of living, within which the intimate, both in the sense of proximity and the absolute interiority, is interwoven with the collective and the global. The boundaries of the personal, the political, the territorial and the constitutional often remain ambiguous, yet the singular is ceaselessly reconfigured within the inside of this indistinct (as for its boundaries) system of planning. This understanding unavoidably expands the signification of the material (and architectural) object.

The question thus to be raised is whether and to what extent these material and spatial micro-inventions alone can potentially claim political action, not in the sense of strategic planning and specific propositions, but by demarcating and offering a figure to the locus of exchange.

Marina Lathouri studied architecture and philosophy of art and aesthetics. She directs the Graduate Programme in History and Critical Thinking at the AA and lectures at Cambridge University. Lathouri’s current research interests lie in the conjunction of architectural history, the

city and political philosophy. She co-authored Intimate Metropolis: Urban Subjects in the Modern City, London: Routledge, 2008; and City Cultures: Contemporary Positions on the City, London: AA Publications, 2010. Lathouri has recently directed the Research project at the AA entitled City Cultures.

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