Everyday Hybridity

Dr Paul O'Connor
Anthropology/Sociology/Cultural Studies/
Hong Kong/Ethnicity/
Skateboarding/Everyday Life

Lecturing in Anthropology at CUHK

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cuhk.academia.edu/PaulOConnor
@peejayohhsee
everydayhybridity@gmail.com

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  1. I have a new paper  "Applying hybridity: rhythms of the Hajj, Tumblr, and Snowden" published in the first issue of the new Journal 'Glocalism'. This online peer reviewed journal also has contributions from Zygmunt Bauman and Roland Robertson. 
All the papers in the new issues tackle the theme of hybridity.
It looks to be an interesting new place of debate and interaction.

    I have a new paper  "Applying hybridity: rhythms of the Hajj, Tumblr, and Snowden" published in the first issue of the new Journal 'Glocalism'. This online peer reviewed journal also has contributions from Zygmunt Bauman and Roland Robertson

    All the papers in the new issues tackle the theme of hybridity.

    It looks to be an interesting new place of debate and interaction.

     
     
  2. "We already have - thanks to technology, development, skills, the efficiency of our work - enough resources to satisfy all human needs. But we don’t have enough resources, and we are unlikely ever to have, to satisfy human greed.
    — Zygmunt Bauman"
     
     
  3. "His acts provided a factual foundation to our suspicions of being monitored and controlled – their lesson is global, reaching far beyond the standard US-bashing. We didn’t really learn from Snowden (or Manning) anything we didn’t already presume to be true. But it is one thing to know it in general, another to get concrete data. It is a little like knowing that one’s sexual partner is playing around – one can accept the abstract knowledge, but pain arises when one gets the steamy details, pictures of what they were doing …"
    — 

    Zizek on Snowden, Manning, and Assange - The Guardian

    An interesting opinion piece about recent events. He makes many key points, highlighting not so much the surprise, but the humiliation of proof surrounding global surveillance. The embarrassment he duly notes is both that of the surveillor and the surveilled.

    Zizek rounds of his commentary by calling for a global network to respond to the likes of Snowden, rather than the stand-off played out between the U.S. and Russia in this particular case. It responds to broader issues of globalization. As Bauman notes we find people seeking local solutions to globally generated problems. It seems the next step, and it is both unclear and precarious, is finding global solutions, to local problems, with global origins.

     
     
  4. "The key message is that through our fears of being left out and excluded, we have gleefully taken the responsibility of our own monitoring—always available, always able to be monitored. Perhaps the more subtle theme of the book is that we, too, whilst being watched, are also always watching."
    — 

    I just finished submitting my review of the Bauman and Lyon book for CSR. I thought I would include these final comments here as they are just so topical in the light of the Snowden affair and continued revelations of the U.S. and U.K. government, and NSA.

    One thing I mention in the review is that the book doesn’t talk a great deal about how the same technologies are being used to cast critique back at, and undermine, governments, businesses, and individuals that are doing the surveillance. This has been picked up nicely in Cyborgology with the humorous subversion of online surveillance. The ludic tweets they note, force the issue that although we remain complicit in using these technologies, we also know what is going on. Resistance through play, like Axel Foley and the Banana in the tailpipe!

     
     
  5. I have had this on the shelf for a while and have just started to read it. It is a nice change of tack for Bauman and starts out surprisingly personal. The first entry is penned at 5am in the morning with nothing particular to say and a weight of loneliness in the air. Always a compelling writer.
I have no doubt that some excerpts will be posted here in due course…

    I have had this on the shelf for a while and have just started to read it. It is a nice change of tack for Bauman and starts out surprisingly personal. The first entry is penned at 5am in the morning with nothing particular to say and a weight of loneliness in the air. Always a compelling writer.

    I have no doubt that some excerpts will be posted here in due course…

     
     
  6. Bauman Posits Solidarity
An interesting, and optimistic article by Bauman on solidarity In Eurozine. It covers some very familiar terrain, but at the same time we see Bauman venturing a little further with ideas about how to tackle our contemporary problems. He notes…

Do you want solidarity? If so, face and get to grips with the routine of the mundane; with its logic or its inanity, with the powers of its demands, commands and prohibitions. And measure your strength against the patterns of daily pursuits of those people who shaped history while being shaped by it.

Highlighting that there are some serious challenges for us as liquid modern beings, to actually cope and deal with the dullness of commitment to political change. Our solidarity comes with the burden of the mundane.
Setting out a schema for what we do need for solidarity, he turns to Richard Sennett, who has proposed ‘informal, open-ended, co-operation’. This strikes me as being very much aligned with the notion of prefigurative politics. The focus being on the method, rather than the result. Bauman also leaves us with the notion that co-operation, solidarity, and functioning community, all leave us with increased knowledge. We become enriched not because of what we gained, but because of what we experienced. Wisdom becomes knowing how little you know.

    Bauman Posits Solidarity

    An interesting, and optimistic article by Bauman on solidarity In Eurozine. It covers some very familiar terrain, but at the same time we see Bauman venturing a little further with ideas about how to tackle our contemporary problems. He notes…

    Do you want solidarity? If so, face and get to grips with the routine of the mundane; with its logic or its inanity, with the powers of its demands, commands and prohibitions. And measure your strength against the patterns of daily pursuits of those people who shaped history while being shaped by it.

    Highlighting that there are some serious challenges for us as liquid modern beings, to actually cope and deal with the dullness of commitment to political change. Our solidarity comes with the burden of the mundane.

    Setting out a schema for what we do need for solidarity, he turns to Richard Sennett, who has proposed ‘informal, open-ended, co-operation’. This strikes me as being very much aligned with the notion of prefigurative politics. The focus being on the method, rather than the result. Bauman also leaves us with the notion that co-operation, solidarity, and functioning community, all leave us with increased knowledge. We become enriched not because of what we gained, but because of what we experienced. Wisdom becomes knowing how little you know.

     
     
  7. I am currently reading Liquid Surveillance by Zygmunt Bauman and David Lyon. It is another one of Bauman’s conversational books where we read a dialogue, this time between him and Lyon. This format actually works quite well in this debate as Lyon tries to lead Bauman into areas where he has not made unambiguous declarations. Such forays aren’t always as successful as one would hope, alas we are fascinated by Bauman not because of what he doesn’t say but because of what he does say.
The points I wanted to make about this text resonate with its focus on technologies of surveillance. From an academic point of view the development of the network as something more important than community is really key. The Social Sciences are paying serious attention to social networking sites, but it almost seems that there needs to be an overarching  critical academic approach to it. something like ‘networkology’, that works with the foundations provided by sociology, anthropology, psychology and media and cultural studies, and then uses it to take account of how central social networking and media sites are in everyday life.
Bauman makes the point that the network is not like community, there isn’t a shared outlook, or similar geography, a shared culture or national perspective. Think of your Facebook friends or your Tumblr followers, you are the only thing that all of them share in common. Accordingly with such fragile ‘liquid’ bonds, network nodes work with a shady individualisation. The truth of the matter is that they are a series of disconnections that can be interconnected, but need not. Quoting Robert Dunbar, the human brain is suited for knowledge of up to 150 people, or 150 ‘meaningful relationships’. Facebook friends are thus a collection of acquaintances, unknowns, old friends, and intimates, muddled up with family too. Sharing information with such a vast array of people models an uneasy truth about the world…we know that we readily give ourselves over to methods of DIY surveillance, our phones, our loyalty cards, our Facebook accounts, but at the same time the fear is not ‘big brother is watching you’, it is the fear of exclusion, of being redundant, wasted, or forgotten that haunts the contemporary denizens of Bauman’s liquid modern world. This visibility is key and the network (both virtual and real world) is now tended with greater care than our community and cultural ties.
There is much more to this book. Some excellent debate on drones, remote surveillance, and even some revisiting of concepts from Modernity and the Holocaust. Notions of the value of technology, of the capacity for it to reflect human strengths and weaknesses, all provide stimulating reading.

    I am currently reading Liquid Surveillance by Zygmunt Bauman and David Lyon. It is another one of Bauman’s conversational books where we read a dialogue, this time between him and Lyon. This format actually works quite well in this debate as Lyon tries to lead Bauman into areas where he has not made unambiguous declarations. Such forays aren’t always as successful as one would hope, alas we are fascinated by Bauman not because of what he doesn’t say but because of what he does say.

    The points I wanted to make about this text resonate with its focus on technologies of surveillance. From an academic point of view the development of the network as something more important than community is really key. The Social Sciences are paying serious attention to social networking sites, but it almost seems that there needs to be an overarching  critical academic approach to it. something like ‘networkology’, that works with the foundations provided by sociology, anthropology, psychology and media and cultural studies, and then uses it to take account of how central social networking and media sites are in everyday life.

    Bauman makes the point that the network is not like community, there isn’t a shared outlook, or similar geography, a shared culture or national perspective. Think of your Facebook friends or your Tumblr followers, you are the only thing that all of them share in common. Accordingly with such fragile ‘liquid’ bonds, network nodes work with a shady individualisation. The truth of the matter is that they are a series of disconnections that can be interconnected, but need not. Quoting Robert Dunbar, the human brain is suited for knowledge of up to 150 people, or 150 ‘meaningful relationships’. Facebook friends are thus a collection of acquaintances, unknowns, old friends, and intimates, muddled up with family too. Sharing information with such a vast array of people models an uneasy truth about the world…we know that we readily give ourselves over to methods of DIY surveillance, our phones, our loyalty cards, our Facebook accounts, but at the same time the fear is not ‘big brother is watching you’, it is the fear of exclusion, of being redundant, wasted, or forgotten that haunts the contemporary denizens of Bauman’s liquid modern world. This visibility is key and the network (both virtual and real world) is now tended with greater care than our community and cultural ties.

    There is much more to this book. Some excellent debate on drones, remote surveillance, and even some revisiting of concepts from Modernity and the Holocaust. Notions of the value of technology, of the capacity for it to reflect human strengths and weaknesses, all provide stimulating reading.

     
     
  8. "The messages addressed from the sites of political power to the resourceful and the hapless alike present ‘more flexibility’ as the sole cure for an already unbearable insecurity - and so paint the prospect of yet more uncertainty, yet more privatization of troubles, yet more loneliness and impotence, and indeed more uncertainty still. They preclude the possibility of existential security which rests on collective foundations and so offer no inducement to solidary actions; instead, they encourage their listeners to focus on their individual survival in the style of ‘everyone for himself, and the devil take the hindmost’ - in an incurably fragmented and atomized, and so increasingly uncertain and unpredictable world."
    — Zygmunt Bauman (2007). Liquid Times: Living in an Age of Uncertainty. Polity Press, p. 14. (via silentlucidities)
     
     
  9. "Our lives, whether we know it or not and whether we relish the fact or bewail it, are works of art."
    — Zygmunt Bauman (via theprospectoflove)
     
     
  10. These are some photos from the Chinasmack blog. They show Sanya beach in China the day after the mid-autumn festival. A huge amount of rubbish was left on the beach. 

    It is especially worrying when we see our waste in a natural setting like this. Go camping for a couple of days, and it is quite horrifying how much waste we produce.

    Zygmunt Bauman’s (too often overlooked) Wasted Lives, focusses on the nature of waste in the contemporary world. He equates our propensity to discard things as clearly an environmental and economic ill. But he goes further and draws a number of parallels between this tendency to throw out what has been “used” and our wasteful and careless regard of fellow humans. The commodification of all life has thus rendered people as disposable. Here he looks not just at the idea of collateral damage in war, but also redundancy, how the welfare state has been rescinded, body parts cut off-reshaped-or augmented, and also how relationships have been cast aside if they no longer measure up to our individually crafted “life projects”, current trends, and desires. It fits the schema of his liquid modernity quite aptly, and follows on from his Individualized Society.

    Sanya beach, our humanity?