Posted on 9 December 2021
Dr Indrajit Roy (Politics) has been awarded departmental funding to develop and consolidate an interdisciplinary York Hope Consortium alongwith Professor Claire Chambers (English) and Professor Sanjoy Bhattacharya (History and Centre for Global Health Histories). It builds on Roy’s current project at York and will explore with colleagues at WHO and elsewhere the ways in which hope is understood by actors in institutions and societies across scales and geographies.
Towards that end, this interdisciplinary consortium will investigate the following interrelated topics:
Much public discourse is about optimism rather than hope. Not being optimistic is often disparaged, but being optimistic can be simplistic, reckless, and lacking in fact. The consortium distinguishes hope from what Lauren Berlant calls ‘cruel optimism’, Sara Ahmed terms the illusory ‘promise of happiness’, and Arjun Appadurai refers to as ‘aspiration’. By contrast, drawing on Les Back, Tia DeNora, Steff Jansen and Indrajit Roy, the consortium understands hope to be more relational and political, collectively advancing the idea that something can be done about even the most difficult circumstances. A global comparative frame in their consortium will help highlight how different structural forms of inequality take shape in different parts of the world. This comparative perspective is essential to consider in the context of global pandemic and the uneven timelines and experiences of crisis, intervention, and hope for a better future. Careful hope, rather than reckless optimism, lies at the heart of this consortium.