What is the relation between processes of (historical, political, technological) emergence and the material/spiritual investments that attach bodies to power? (How) is authority generated when the world is experienced as perpetual process and creative force? (Why) are we bound to a fate in which spectacular violence subsumes the space of collaborative reason, affective attachment and justice? (Where) are there vital new practices of collective life that resist such violence or generate authority as a collaborative egalitarian art?

This symposium launches a new collaboration between the Authority Research Network and colleagues from Brazil, supported by the AHRC Connected Communities programme. We are working together intensively to reflect critically and hopefully on a range of contemporary sites of authority making. Together our research explores the experience of power in the present as well as practices/imaginations of making the commons. We see ‘emergent authority’ as the condition of political life in the present. We seek neither to condemn nor applaud forms of authority that are based on experiences of emergence per se, but rather to reorient critical/creative practice to these conditions and to insist on the continued urgency of questions of meaning, attachment and authority in an age of emergence.

The symposium is designed with conviviality and genuine discussion in mind. To enable this we are strictly limiting the numbers. We will also ask participants to do a little preparatory reading so that we have materials in common to discuss on the day. To register your interest in attending please email Suzy Armsden.


  • 9:30 -10:00 Registration and refreshments
  • 10.00 – 11:00 Introducing the Authority Research Network & the new project
    1. Leila Dawney (Brighton): Thinking about emergent authority – attachments and alienations
    2. Claire Blencowe (Warwick) : Benjamin’s Challenge: Authority Crisis, Violence & Common Life
    3. Aécio Amaral (Universidade Federal da Paraíba): ARN and the Brazil connection
  • 11:00 – 11:30 Break
  • 11.30-13.30- Selection of Working Papers
    1. Samuel Kirwan (Bristol): A State for the Commons: A look at the changing role of the state, the law and ‘the commons’ through the lens of advice work.
    2. Naomi Millner (Bristol): Soil and emergent authority: Materialising social change with the permaculture movement of El Salvador
    3. Joanildo Burity (FUNDAJ) Authority and the in-common in processes of minoritisation: Brazilian Pentecostalism
      Aécio Amaral (UFPB) – Algorithmic commons, social networks and disparate resistance
  • 13:30-14:30 Lunch
  • 14.30-15.30 thematic roundtable discussions involving all participants
  • 15.30-17.00 panel discussion on the importance (or not) of the concept ‘emergent authority’: what is at stake in understanding power through processual ontology; what is the importance of thinking about commons/commoning or resistance in terms of power and authority?


  • Julian Brigstocke
  • Patrick Bresnihan
  • Monika Krause
  • Helen Nicholson
  • Tehseen Noorani
  • Goldie Osuri

Drinks at a nearby venue


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