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care

Until the dust settles

Waiting

For years, Emily Dickinson had been sitting alone in her room, watching the world outside through the window. Taking notes, writing beautiful lines. Words about trees and flowers, rain and the wind, death and living. Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was an American poet who spent most of her adult life confined to her house and it seems also for long periods staying in her bedroom. All but four of her over 1800 poems were published posthumously when they had been found by her relatives among her belongings. Who was she writing to? Why did she write?

Resources of history and hope: Studying left-wing political parties through loss

Introduction: Everything goes heavy…

Our insider study of resistance leadership from the left wing of the UK Labour Party was published online on 25 November 2019, two and a half weeks before the party was soundly defeated by a surging Conservative Party in the general election. Reams of seats previously regarded as bastions of the labour movement fell. As the exit poll was announced at the close of voting, a nation of Labour activists and supporters gasped.

Being on standby: On maintenance work in chronic disease management

Introduction

Since the proliferation of portable meters and insulin pumps in the 1980s, an intimate relation with battery-powered technologies has been a key feature of living with type 1 diabetes, as poignantly described by a patient on Twitter: ‘My pancreas runs on AAA batteries’ (DSC Community, 2016). But over the last decade the technologisation of diabetic care has intensified and daily treatment is now woven into a complex web of digital technologies. New smart devices continuously record glucose levels and automatically transmit them to a monitoring device.

Pandemic times. A conversation with Lisa Baraitser about the temporal politics of COVID-19

Introduction

Lisa Baraitser is Professor of Psychosocial Theory at Birkbeck, University of London. In her research, she combines psychoanalytic and social theories to address the temporal, ethical and affective dimensions of care. In this interview, Prof. Baraitser helps us think through the temporal politics of COVID-19 and the ways in which pandemic conditions transform the affective dimensions of care work in Europe and US-America.

Infrastructural Standby: Caring for loose relations

Introduction

Slowdown is a mundane part of infrastructural operations and emerges in varying compositions (e.g. Harvey, 2012; Weszkalnys, 2017). Infrastructures rest while waiting for an emergency (e.g. urban emergency infrastructures or critical architectures, like bunker systems, banking architectures or information systems); flows of money, information and passengers are hindered and stuck in waiting architectures until further notice and technical compositions remain available for possible re-usage, e.g.

Revisiting precarity, with care: Productive and reproductive labour in the era of flexible capitalism

Introduction

The concept of precarity – a term describing the flexible and uncertain working and living conditions in the contemporary world – is often presented in opposition to the idea of stability. On the one pole stands the idea of a permanent job or career: a secure and stable life-long chain of economic pursuits and social relations that promise steady upward mobility across generations (Sennett, 1998: 9). On the other pole remains the hyper-flexible contractual labour and displaced life advanced by new forms of managerial capitalism. 

Reconfiguring work and organizing for post-pandemic futures

Introduction

The editorial of this open issue of ephemera is written against the background of a major global pandemic. The disease known as COVID-19 is believed to have started in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It rapidly spread across the world the following months, with various restrictive measures put into place to flatten the curve of contagion. Besides losses of lives globally, the pandemic has caused severe economic contraction on a historic scale (Hevia and Neumeyer, 2020).

Food repair: An analysis of the tensions between preventing waste and assuring safety

Introduction

Every day, food consumers in affluent societies throw away a great deal of food. The precise quantities are difficult to calculate. In Europe, estimates range from 95 and 115 kilos per person per year (Gustavsson et al., 2011). One of the reasons for all this waste, some suggest (Kneafsey, 2008), is that consumers are geographically and socially disconnected from production.

Repair matters

...

She said: What is history?

And he said: History is an angel

being blown backwards into the future

He said: History is a pile of debris

And the angel wants to go back and fix things

To repair the things that have been broken

But there is a storm blowing from Paradise

And the storm keeps blowing the angel backwards into the future

And this storm, this storm is called Progress

Laurie Anderson – The Dream Before (for Walter Benjamin)

Album: Strange Angels, 1989

Coding gender in academic capitalism

Introduction*

We love the Internet, digital media and all the options that techno-social life makes available to us. Our collaboration as academic workers, for instance, has been made possible for decades by email and collective writing platforms. Digital connections are, after all, an important affordance for intellectual work for all who have a job far away from the village centres of international academia.

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