13th November: Joonas Martikainen (University of Helsinki)

Fracturing in Political Agency as a Result of Experiential Damage

Time: 14:15–15:45
Lecture room 29, 5th floor, Metsätalo (Unioninkatu 40)

Marginalization from political engagement has lately been discussed as a form of ‘capability inequality’, or as the lack of capabilities required by public deliberative engagement. Capability approach theorists are right to call this a form of ‘political poverty’, a form of poverty separate from a lack of material resources. However, this approach does not go far enough in exploring the embodied experiential bases of political engagement. I claim that suffering political poverty can also mean suffering from ‘experiential damage’, or damage done to one’s very perception of oneself and the social world. I engage in a phenomenological diagnostic which attends to the ways political poverty is experienced as the damaging of the affective background of perception. Experiences of poverty and social marginalization can become sedimented in one’s lived habitual body, resulting in the loss of faith in one’s ability to effect any meaningful political change. I identify four different aspects of such experiential damage which seem relevant to public political engagement: loss of trust, loss of expressivity, loss of the public world, and loss of future temporality. This diagnosis appears to agree with a broad set of descriptions of how economically marginalized groups experience their exclusion from public engagement.

Joonas Martikainen is a doctoral student of Practical Philosophy in the University of Helsinki.