I wonder how to work in already broken worlds. I explore repair as a critical method, in four chapters: reconstruction, refuge, reparation and rescue. Reconstruction, reassembly, retrofitting, are techniques for producing new or improved worlds and infrastructures. Zones of refuge offer fragmented counterworlds, cracks for living in the midst of disturbance and ruin. Reparations attempt to compensate for historic debts and past injustices. Relations of rescue maintain stability by shoring up damaged structures. In a time of violent and visible deconstruction – of human and other living bodies – what tools are right for the job? Reparative scholarship offers a positive orientation, a hope to live more fully and feel better. But critique can sometimes ingest and reassemble dominant modes of thinking and being. Could reparative scholarship end up rebuilding what it was designed to take apart?
Dana Simmons is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of California, Riverside. She is the author of Vital Minimum: Need, Science, and Politics in Modern France (2015) and is currently working on a project tracing the contemporary science and politics of hunger.