Which Autonomies?
Seminar accompanied by workshops devoted to Care-giving and Collectives, originated by Josep Rafanell i Orra

Self dis-integration. Or workshops for commonality.


                                              It is precisely
                                              the most solitary people
                                              who are the most deeply embedded
                                              in the community.
                                              Rainer Maria Rilke,
                                              Notes on the Melody of Things, 1898

In a lecture given in Tunis in 1967 under the title "Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias" Michel Foucault began with the following somewhat enigmatic statement: "One could perhaps say that certain ideological conflicts animating present-day polemics oppose the pious descendants of time and the determined inhabitants of space."

Here we are going to follow up on what Foucault meant when he said – all of fifty years ago – that one of the features of our age is the networking of space: "We are at a moment. I believe, when our experience of the world is less that of a long life developing through time than that of a network that connects points and intersects with its own skein."  Space is henceforth conceived of as an interconnection of sites linking all beings, both humans and things. We must, then, make a distinction between occupying space and inhabiting places. Tim Ingold: "By habitation I do not mean taking one's place in a world that has already been prepared in advance for the populations that arrive to reside there. The inhabitant is rather one who participates from within in the very process of the world's continual coming into being and who, in laying a trail of life, contributes to its weave and texture."
The adjective "determined" can be taken here as referring to this insatiable compulsion to "occupy" space. But what of the adjective "pious" attached to the "descendants" of time? Maybe we need to move on if we are to find a way of thinking through our ways of affecting time.

So what might inhabiting time mean today? If we have to contrast the space within which populations are administered and the places in which forms of community life are affirmed, the latter also presuppose an irreducible plurality of times: of times relative to the relationships between human beings. We shall try to test out the following assertion: that we must counter the furiously accelerated time of economics by focusing our attention on experiencing the "other" times of our attachments; and that these may become ungovernable – the breeding ground for fresh rebellions. Somewhere.

It is as an extension of the previous years' seminars that we are pursuing our exploration of ways of bonding. If care-giving as we propose it is nothing other than a communisation of experience, it is because the care focused on relationships between human beings coincides with the attention focused on the places where these relationships manage to develop. Care-giving is nothing other than a manner of secession and, following the same momentum, of affirmation of life forms. Let's call this establishing workshops for commonality.

This is a matter not of reverentially invoking the common, untraceable as a general notion, or the abstraction of a common good hinging on integration of all human beings into the governed social space of the economy; but rather of working for the emergence of situations in which encounters between singular experiences become possible again. There is no common world that precedes forms of communisation. We could also say that it's a matter of being attentive to forms of secession from the total integrated world, with a view to the advent of the fragmentary worlds of the community and the possibility of new associations. Care-giving is a conscious decision to combat neglect of the community's first steps towards existence.

Nothing is political, everything can be politicised, said Michel Foucault. Does not the political raise its head when the existence of singular worlds challenges those who deny its possibility? And so we're faced with a new understanding of political autonomy, an affirmation of forms of life that challenge the negating of their possibility. But this autonomy will involve the establishing of new codeterminations, new dependencies between ways of being. Autonomy is what causes one existence to determine other existences, while itself being determined by them as part of the same process. An appropriation. As David Lapoujade has pointed out – and the paradox is only apparent – "to appropriate is to confer autonomy on something which does not exist in itself and which, given its inherent incompletion, needs someone else in order to exist better or differently." _ D. Lapoujade, Les existences moindres, 2017. We exist only by bringing other beings into existence.

For two years now we have been proposing encounters with people and collectives engaged in singular experiments with relationships between beings human and non-human, and paying particular attention to the recomposition of contexts in which these relationships manage to take shape.

However, reconfiguration of experience is inevitably confronted with the issue of the institution. Ignoring institutions is not enough for us to shake off their effects. How are we to bring into being new forms of subjectivation of what is called madness or illness if we disregard the medical and psychiatric institutions which for centuries have served as vectors for their modes of existence? How are we to test out methods of appropriation of places in big cities without coming up against the economic enhancement of space by institutions of governance? How are we to practise hospitality towards the foreigner and accept the foreignness of his worlds without calling into question the world we ourselves live in and the institutions that turn hospitality into hospitalisation?

This year's agenda will include what is to be understood by "collective practices of autonomy", taking into consideration that such practices, given their inherent rejection of a certain world, cannot escape attachments that enable the bringing into being of collective forms of living. And what if autonomy were nothing other than the invention of new heteronomies?

This is how we intend to examine the legacies of the struggles and the practices of autonomy underpinning what we will provisionally call forms of dis-integration: multiple modes of secession, processes, so to speak, blazing trails towards new ways of inhabiting the world. What we propose is not a political programme, but rather a sharing of creative contributions to a compositional plan (among other plans) that will help stand in the way of the world "as it is" – which is also the En Marche world "as it should be" for those who claim to govern us.  We propose either that or a commitment to worlds to be made.


The dates for the seminar events, whose content will be announced later, are as follows: Thursdays 26 October, 23 November, 21 December 2017 ; and Thursdays 25 January, 22 February, 29 March, 26 April and 31 May 2018.

This third season will be punctuated by workshops devoted to the worlds of psychiatry, childhood and what constitutes place in our big cities as seen from the multiple viewpoints of cohabitation between humans and non-humans. Through these workshops and their work of political investigation we intend to contribute to an intensification of the singularity of practices and to the processes of interconnection and reciprocal influence between them.


The encounters making up the Care-giving Practices and Collectives are thus scheduled for the last Thursday of the month at Laboratoires d'Aubervilliers, beginning at 7 p.m:

Thursday 26 October 2017 :
Discussion of the organisation of the different workshops, whose dates will be decided as and when they fit with participants' possibilities.

Thursday 23 November 2017
Regarding forms of transmission of psychoactive experience and resistance to institutions.
Alessandro Stella, former member of Potere Operaio, then of Autonomie Ouvrière, director of research in historical anthropology at CNRS and a teacher at EHESS in Paris, will talk about drugs and the paradoxes of urging individual autonomy as a counter to addiction in a context of criminalisation and psychopathologisation created by medical, psychiatric, police and judicial institutions.

Jeudi 21 décembre 2017 :
Sébastien Thiéry, political scientist, teacher at the Paris Malaquais National School of Architecture and activities coordinator at the Pôle d’Exploration des Ressources Urbaines (PEROU), will talk about noncompliant lifestyles in metropolitan settings and the emergence of forms of hospitality despite negative administration of public space.

Jeudi 25 janvier 2018 :
Gabrielle and Thomas,  respectively a nurse and a psychologist from the Collectif de Soins Intercommunaux care collective, will follow up their contribution from the previous season with an outline of their initiatives for autonomous care practices in hostile environments and contexts of police violence, as well as for the administering of care in the face of the ongoing undermining of caring systems. Self-management experiments in Greece will also be looked into.

Jeudi 22 février 2018 :
How to generate beneficial environments, including in schools, by laying the groundwork for an ecological concept of childhood, a re-enchantment of technical objects and a personal exploration of the transindividual and the collective so as to counter the ravages of capitalist rationality?
Artists Fanny Béguery and Adrien Malcor will talk about their experiments in creativity with children in schools in the Dordogne Valley.

Jeudi 29 mars 2018 :
Jérôme Baschet, medieval historian and on-call teacher at EHESS in Paris and the Universidad Autonóma de Chiapas in Mexico, has been engaging with the Zapatista experiment for over 20 years. He will talk about his research into the genealogies of the concept of the person in the West, and experiments with political autonomy in other contexts. His core concern is the question of the plurality of worlds as opposed to capitalist standardisation.

Jeudi 26 avril 2018 :
Marcello Tarí,  is a writer, freelance researcher specialising in the history of Italy in the 1970s, and a former participant in Italian experiments with insurrectional autonomy. He will talk about an apolitical communism and, in the light of the political economy models that structure today's cities, the changes of forms of life central to a politics of autonomies as multiple types of insubordination.

Jeudi 31 mai 2018 :
Alexis Zimmer is a biologist, philosopher and member of the political science faculty at Université de Paris VIII. He will share with us his research into concurrent transformations of bodies and environments and production of the scholarly discourse that shapes perfectly ordinary experiments in environments devastated by industrialisation and its technical systems. One of the questions his research invites us to examine is "What does it mean to live among ruins?"

Caterina Rafanell, Ville fantôme, 2017 _ engraved copper plate