Starting with the end…

Ruth Raynor (Newcastle University) and Nick Rush-Cooper (Newcastle University)

Supposedly, we are living in an ‘age’ of endings: the end of modernity, the end of liberalism, the end of countless species, the end of capitalism or the end of the world?  At the same time great scrutiny in the social sciences has been given to the ‘impasse:’ a slow and on-going crisis. This work points to acts of grasping or holding on, and to the collectively sensed impossibility of endings, even as they begin to unfold. This session seeks work that offers theoretical and/or empirically grounded interventions into the ethics and practices of ending (withdrawal, divestment, foreclosure…) This work might include but is not limited to end of life and end of life care, end of conflict and suffering, species decline, catastrophe and disaster, contingency planning, end of exploitation, loss of intimate relationships. It may also consider political and disciplinary endings, such as the ends of (or claims about the end of) certain ways of thinking, doing, and knowing such as the end of the dominance of representational approaches; the end of class; the end of positivism.

The session seeks to engage with and move beyond the rhetoric of ending as threat. It does not assume a direction to the morality of endings: they may both open and foreclose opportunities, they may be both hopeful and troubling, and they will be experienced unevenly and unequally. What does it mean, then, to start with an end? How do endings take place? How are they planned for, or not? What are the temporalities of endings: are they slow, sudden? What labours might be involved in enacting, or accepting an ending? What are the limits to our understanding of the end? And how might those limits become constructive? Who or what names, declares, decides, announces the end and what are the effects of this? Who plans for the end? How are they felt? What lingers and what might be salvaged or reclaimed after the impossibility of returning to business as usual?

The website for the Royal Geographical Society's History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group

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