Tomás Usón: Beyond Place: Encountering Difference in Disastrous Times

11. Dezember 2023

Tomás Usón (Berlin)
Beyond Place: Encountering Difference in Disastrous Times

In the current times of political turmoil and climate crisis, the figure of the place has expedited a moment of profound questioning and destabilization. Strongly related to a sense of belonging to a common world that can be protected, secured, and maintained, place is now threatened by the inauguration of the Anthropocene as an unstable era without a future and without solid grounds. In this presentation, I seek to reflect on novel ways of creating planetary habitability beyond the security and stability that the commonality of the place provides by reflecting on the Quechua notion of tinkuy – or “to gather in the difference”. As a thing or moment of complementary antagonism, the tinku is a particularly helpful figure to explore situations where divergent – and sometimes conflictive – versions of the world coexist in space and time. By examining the case of the Callejón de Huaylas in the Peruvian Andes, a region marked by the legacy of colonialism and massive disasters that have unleashed the end of times, I aim to show what happens to our sense of the world when our spatial co-habitation is configured by difference. It is an invitation to move beyond the commonality of place and think of space as cosmopolitical conviviality shaped by multiplicity – and the encounters that such multiplicity arouses.

Tomás Usón is a PhD researcher at the Institute of European Ethnology and IRI THESys at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. His research deals with memory and anticipation practices amid climatic disasters and the configuration of past and future temporalities in the Peruvian Andes. He has previously worked as a research associate focusing on participative methods for flood-risk assessment and future land use scenarios. His main research interests include risk and disaster studies, science and technology studies (STS), political ecology, urban anthropology, and the anthropology of time.