The Eisenberg Institute's 2021-22 programs will center on a new theme: "Recovery."
The meaning as well as the possibility—and even desirability—of recovery has long been up for grabs. Recovery from what, for whom, and to what? Previous norms may not deserve restoration. What is being presupposed by the term about the relations between the past, the present, and the future—or between the individual, the social, and the planetary?
We invite you to join us in-person in 1014 Tisch Hall or via Zoom as we explore "Recovery" in the lectures, workshops, and symposia that comprise the institute's 2021-22 program (link here for the full calendar of events).
Theme Statement: Recovery
This year the Eisenberg Institute has chosen "Recovery"—healing in the aftermath of disasters, crises, turmoil, and chronic pain—as the subject of its year-long exploration. What does it mean to recover? Is recovery sufficient? Given the structural nature of social injustices, is recovery even possible? We understand our theme as having empirical, methodological, ideological, and political purchase. We are interested in concrete studies of recovery; in recovery as a methodology; and in the political urgency of the possibilities of a sustainable and just recovery in our times. We invite considerations of case studies of post-crisis reconstructions, of different political visions of recovery, and of the various agents and stakeholders in projects of recovery. We also welcome investigations of the topoi of recovery itself, and its cognates such as renewal, reparations, remaking, rebuilding, rebirth, and reconstruction, both historically and in the present. By the same token, we are interested in the recovery of silenced pasts and acts of recovery that redeem history for radical praxis.
In these times of acute, multiple, and overlapping crises, the theme of recovery is on people’s minds. Long-established mores and structures of daily routine, along with political, economic, and social life are now being questioned in the face of increasingly urgent demands for transformative solutions to chronic injustices in the realms of climate, racism, economy, infrastructure, and the work of social reproduction or care work. Such critiques reduce the traction of an idea of recovery as a return to an “old normal.” Various governments, banks, and big corporations as well as environmental organizations and grassroots movements have taken up the slogan of “building back better.” Yet historical precedent shows that post-recovery is vulnerable to hijacking by private industries that have emerged to profit directly from large-scale crises, in what Naomi Klein calls, “disaster capitalism.” To the extent that trauma and loss form part of this reckoning, the stakes are precisely over competing visions of what recovery looks like, and of course, from what we consider ourselves to be recovering. The language of recovery also has a long history in mental health, disability, and medical communities. Here too, once the constraints of the normal are challenged, the interpretation of recovery is thrown open to debate. What might recovery or healing be for individual bodies and minds? Indeed, what notions of the individual are smuggled in, and what occlusions of the social (and along with it countervailing conceptions of mutual aid) are occluded by, the very notion of recovery? The contested terrain of “recovery” provides us with a shared and connected analytic to consider the meaning of renewal for individuals, collectivities, and, indeed, the planet.
We believe that historically informed considerations of the theme of Recovery, across time and place, have the potential to contribute to contemporary debates.