Phenomenal time: a field philosophy for more liveable worlds

Project Details


Mid-Career Fellowship funded by the Independent Social Research Foundation

Around the globe, stories of environmental mismatches in timing are
demonstrating the complicated effects of climate change. Arctic
caribou are arriving at their feeding grounds too late for peaks in
vegetation growth with devastating effects on new mothers and
calves. Atlantic puffins and European woodland birds are also
hatching chicks outside of the best times for catching prey.Importantly, this ‘time out of joint’ applies not only to ecological
contexts, but social ones as well. Political cycles are thought to
encourage short-term thinking, when the climate crisis demands
sustained action, and our seemingly ephemeral everyday practices
are causing changes that will last into deep geological time.
Conventionally, the time of our lives has been studied separately
from the time of nature, but the climate crisis has shown that both
need to be thought together. In particular, we need ways of
understanding and responding to temporal mismatches in order to
address the fundamental question of how to better coordinate
ourselves in a time of climate breakdown. While the potentials of
geological time has drawn much attention (Bjornerud), this project
will explore a subfield of ecology — phenology — which studies
cyclical and seasonal phenomena in plants and animals. Studying
the ways that living beings produce complex temporal arrangements
with each other in order to make life possible — and the mismatches
that occur when things shift — phenology shows us the possibilities
and limits of recalibrating time when everything around us is
changing. Initiating a new conversation between the humanities,
social sciences and ecology, this project will draw on innovative
methods in ‘field philosophy’ to support collaborative enquiries with
professional and amateur phenologists. The aim is to explore how
new understandings of time can play a role in fostering an
awareness of interdependence in the hope of more livable worlds.
Effective start/end date1/08/2131/07/22


  • UK-based charities: £55,110.00


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