shared responsibilities

[working draft of] shared responsibilities in intellectual and affective labour

In our work we have created a list of seven “responsibilities” related to intellectual and affective labour to guide our collective experimentations. These responsibilities are to be considered in the practices of storying the past, living the present and weaving new futures. We hope that they will help us to balance our political mobilizations and existential entanglements:

· Relational responsibility: Recognizing the persistence of systemic separations and inequalities, and working toward healing, reimagining, and regenerating relationships and modes of social re/production that honour both interdependency and autonomy, so as to ultimately dismantle inherited social, economic, political and epistemological divides;

· Trans-local responsibility: Rethinking uni-directional flows of knowledge and paternalistic notions of progress and development by rooting practices in local, community-centred contexts, problems, and solutions, while also attending to global contexts and structures, and the interdependency of all beings, recognizing that a change in one place affects change elsewhere and that our ethical obligations are boundless;

· Pluri-vocal responsibility: Considering how to ethically engage and be affected by different ways of knowing and being while respecting the integrity of each, the unique gifts they offer, acknowledging limitations and potential tensions between them. Challenging the dominance of Western rationality, Enlightenment humanism, and liberal frameworks of justice that dominate in mainstream ethics traditions and theories of change, while recognizing the difficulties and complexities of doing so;

· Intergenerational responsibility: Cleaning up the literal and figurative toxicity of harmful and extractive social-ecological relations that compromise the possibility for life in the present and future, and fostering relationships and forms of social-ecological organization that can uphold and regenerate the material, intellectual, psychological, and spiritual wellbeing of present and future generations of all beings;

· Experimental responsibility: Recognizing that all strategies of transformation have gifts, risks, and limitations and thus should: be crafted and enacted with both short- and long-term considerations; be subject to thorough analyses of possible effects on different populations, but without utility-maximization and with a recognition of the role of uncertainty; be rooted in a commitment to depth, curiosity, and see failure as important and generative; be engaged with constant reflexivity and re-evaluation, rather than be understood as closed resolutions;

· Self-reflexive responsibility: Taking seriously the complexities, complicities, difficulties and paradoxes of doing this work by naming and denaturalizing power dynamics and structures of harm, tracing and historicizing different approaches to addressing shared problems, identifying points of tension and competing investments, and identifying and interrupting circular patterns of problem solving and critique;

· Improvisational responsibility: Being able to throw plans and manifestos out of the window and to rethink responsibilities from scratch in order to be present to walk, breathe and dance with what is in front of us, with sensitivity towards  different temporalities, sensibilities, and constellations of power and affect, and the unexpected, while remaining attentive to possibilities for mobilizing productive interruptions, and committed to deep listening and learning in order to make only different mistakes.