Disjunctive Constellations: On Climate Change, Conjunctures and Cultural Studies
- new formations: a journal of culture/theory/politics
- Lawrence & Wishart
- Volume 102, 2021
- pp. 28-43
- Additional Information
The planetary scale of climate change challenges forms of conjunctural analyses that are based around the scale of national politics and culture. Global warming insists on planetary dimensions and invites us to treat humankind as a species that has developed a taste for fossil fuels. Critical cultural studies, and the human sciences more generally, seem founded on the principle that culture and society have historically worked to differentiate humans, and that the task of a critical practice is to investigate this process within and across specific geographical locales. How do we reconcile what seems to be an irreconcilable difference between cultural studies and climate change? Below I argue that, alongside the necessary work of conjunctural analysis, we should remember that the critical human sciences have other capacities that are more suited to negotiating the monstrous diversity of scales that global warming and the micro-cultures of the everyday articulate. Alongside conjunctural analysis I argue for the relevance of an approach that would posit ‘disjunctive constellations’ as objects for attention. While it might seem counter-intuitive, the disjunctive constellations I have in mind are at once more modest and (potentially) more expansive than a conjuncture. In my understanding, disjunctive constellations are not in opposition to conjunctures; they may well be the critical kernel at the heart of a conjunctural sensitivity.