by Kate Carruthers Thomas
I’m sitting out the last plenary session to write this blog post. Earlier today, Mark Carrigan wrote about being alone at conferences and I’m writing this while sitting alone in the Cube. I can vaguely hear the muted conversations between Event Team members in the reception area. It’s the first time I’ve been alone since I entered the building at 8.15am and after such an active day, it feels like a luxury.
Time seems to travel more slowly in solitude than in company. And time is a significant element in the act of reflection. In the bloggers’ briefing this morning, Mark and Pat differentiated between the recording/reporting functions of live Tweeting and the reflective potential of live blogging. Is reflection then, an act of separating past from present?
I ask because a theme which has been particularly apparent for me today, looping through formal sessions and informal engagements, is that of temporality. Bev Skeggs’s manifesto for The Sociological Review was/is an intention to respond to the ‘now’. Social media has accelerated access and responses to research, writing and debate. Ayona Datta’s (fantastic) keynote on India’s Smart Cities movement invoked an understanding of space as inherently temporal; ‘the future as a spatio-temporality of power and knowledge’; the postcolonial moment as ‘marked by the simultaneity of rational and mythological time’. And all this within the temporal structure of the Undisciplining conference programme, session flows punctuated by refreshment breaks, talks about future possibilities …
Physically and mentally refreshed by my own change of pace in the last hour (yes, it’s taken that long to write this!) I am inclined towards a more nuanced temporality of reflection. Perhaps, in this context at least, reflection is less about separating past from present (and future) and more about slowing the pace at which present becomes past?