25/11/2017 Temporalising Mutuality: Explorations in the Workings of the Promise


The promise, as a cultural mode of relating to each other, has been studied from diverse perspectives: philosophy, literature, rhetorics, law. Besides its performative nature, its contractual value, and its social bonding capacity, it is its specific temporal structure that makes the promise interesting if we want to understand mutuality – and its conditions. The promise implicates multiple temporalities: it makes a cut with what was before the promise, it creates situations of duress, and makes the future present. How do these temporalities shape mutuality? In this presentation, I will explore these multiple temporal operations within the workings of the promise with reference to literature from urban studies and material from my own fieldwork as an urban anthropologist in Berlin. This exploration of the promise and its related modes of mutuality is a first step towards a more general conceptualisation of the city as promise.


Keynote at the Annual Conference – Varieties of Cooperation. Mutually Making the Conditions of Mutual Making – University of Siegen | 23-25 Nov. 2017
Further information here


Prof. Dr. Alexa Färber


Professor, Urban Anthropology and Ethnography