a_sociality

research project and series of events, since autumn 2021

Being queerly social and cared for holds a promise of belonging. Belonging beyond heteronormativity and coercive normalcy. Yet social relations, no matter how queer they are, are never devoid of indifference, unpredictability, aggression, conflict, or the risk and reality of violence. It is illusory to hope for safe spaces, pure peacefulness or pleasure in bonding and care without aggression or messiness. At the very least, social relations carry violence as a historical legacy as well as a symbolic and structural dimension. Nevertheless, collective awareness strategies can foster new social practices.

A_sociality names sociality as being entangled with indifference, aggression, and violence. The term suggests blending transitions between sociality, anti-sociality, and asociality. Is it necessary to acknowledge these overlaps and simultaneities in order to challenge structures of domination and transform power inequalities? Is it through collective forms of practicing awareness, e.g. through awareness teams at parties or at political campsites, that we draw attention to a_sociality? And does that mean that the ambiguities of the term ‘wary’ become relevant, namely suspicious, distrustful, doubtful, observant as well as attentive, mindful, cautious – a_wariness? What is the role of aggression in this context? Do microaggressions need more attention and/or fresh consideration? Might aggressions be taken up in queer ways as tools or toys that support the struggle for nonviolence?

Embracing a_sociality means claiming, redefining, and queering the derogatory term asociality, countering its devastating and often deadly biopolitical use. Could it be that destigmatizing the so-called asocial helps turn aggression into political anger? Embracing a_sociality means attending to anti-sociality in the sense of indifference and self-sufficiency, yet also as a struggle for power and dominance. A_sociality overcomes the simplified either/or of social versus anti-social. Does the negativity of anti-sociality offer the political potential to undermine the false promises of integration, countering structural discrimination and discursive violence? A_sociality has awareness entering political movements. Could this open up possibilities that allow us to care for conflicts and transform them?

Antke Antek Engel (September 2021)

Acknowledgements: This text would not have been written without inspiration from: Leo Bersani, Judith Butler, Max Czollek, Elsa Dorlin, Lee Edelman, Fatima El-Tayeb, Jin Haritaworn, Mathias Klitgård, Laura Jung, Martin F. Manalansan, Robert McRuer, Jose Esteban Muñoz, Yv Nay, Elizabeth Povinelli, Eva v. Redecker, Emilia Roig, Sarah Schulman, Francis Seeck, Kath Weston, all of whom have written about queer sociality and care and/or the negativity, aggressions, conflicts, or messiness that go along with it, and/or the QTBPoC or queer crip collectivities that queer sociality.