The Ambivalence of Rootedness: Oppressive and Liberatory Potentials is an interdisciplinary reading group organized by Cynthia Quarrie and Mérédith Laferté-Coutu.
This will be a session on Emmanuel Levinas, “Heidegger, Gagarin, and Us.”
It will take place at the Mordecai Richler Reading Room in the Library Building (LB-655).
Metaphors of roots and rootedness, and their obverse — rootlessness, uprootedness, even “eradication”— are used across so many languages and cultures to describe fundamental aspects of the human condition. As Christy Wampole puts it, "roots are a site of extreme figuration," which suggests the extent to which humans are marked in one way or another by their connection (or lack thereof) to place.
In this interdisciplinary reading group, we will discuss texts that explore some of the ethical, political, affective and material dangers and affordances of roots, from the root-based mysticism at the heart of 20th-C German (and other) nationalisms, to the liberatory potential of Black and Indigenous writing and activism, and the contested politics at the heart of contemporary environmental thought. Our overarching questions concern the ethics of place, and how to care for the land as a people without this care depending on or turning into either land essentialism or nationalism.
Examples of texts and themes will be as varied as Édouard Glissant’s Poetics of Relation, Martin Heidegger’s account of rootedness (Bodenständigkeit), Vine Deloria Jr.’s God is Red, other works connected to the LANDBACK movement, and other literary, philosophical, political, material/environmental, and spiritual approaches to the importance and/or danger of taking root.
All are welcome to join for some or all of our meetings. The full schedule and list of texts will be finalized at our first meeting on September 22nd. Email us for a link to the pdfs. A hybrid option is available as well, though we prioritize in-person presence.