UN2026: On Precarity | M. De Abreu

Undergraduate Lecture
Tu Th 4:10-5:25PM

The topic of precarity is a growing field in the social sciences. The main purpose of this course is to explore the wide semantics and potentials of the term in relation to domains such as labor, law, ethics, technology, health, relationships, moods, shifts in opinion, in fashions or the durability of goods. Our interest in precarity is grounded in two interrelated key motives: the first addresses it as an object of study in its own right. Judging from recent unemployment rates of the industrialized west, the mass scale displacement of populations or the corrosion of security, there is enough reason to put precarity into context. Yet, we might also proceed by inquiring about its potentials as a methodology, one might even call it “a style of reasoning”. Given how much history relies on causation, sequence, and linearity how to relate to precarity as a temporal structure in light of the complexities of the present? How does such multilateral present redefines the very conception of that present, of the historical and the now?

We will be relating to precarity not just as a condition of existence but also as an infrastructure with which to think societies across space and time. The course will focus on narratives, practices, and structures that problematize and displace prima facie logics of the either/or. Instead, we want to highlight conjoined operations of the both/and which are changing the very nature of how we think norms, time and episteme. Taking a clue from the proliferation of forms of precarity, the course will be organized around specific themes. Within each two-week section, the first sessions will be a lecture and the remaining will combine lecture and discussion of the assigned items. As a whole, the course aims to sensitize students to the complexities and conditioning possibilities involved in the process of knowledge-making and to provide students with tools to better structure and critically access the information they receive and generate.

Link to Vergil
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