Immanent obligations of response: articulating everyday response-abilities through care

Lydia Baan Hofman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The geological epoch of the Anthropocene provokes the reconceptualization of responsibility as response-ability. Going beyond bounded individualism and human exceptionalism, this notion emphasizes the constitutive relationality of heterogeneous more than human beings that allows for response. Feminist STS scholar and biologist Donna Haraway has developed response-ability primarily as an epistemological notion with ontological and ethico-political aspects, crucial in the context of professional technoscientific research practices. This article articulates a nonprofessional, everyday response-ability, by rereading it as a combination of forms of care that are worldmaking, an etho-ecological practice, and experimental in nature. Thinking through María Puig de la Bellacasa’s multispecies care and Isabelle Stengers’ etho-ecological practices, I articulate everyday response-abilities. Response-abilities, like Puig de la Bellacasa’s worldmaking care, are ubiquitous. They constitute multiple, conflicting worlds in need of sustenance. Response-ability is self-reinforcing, which is both promising and problematic since it leads to unequal burdening and overburdening. Relaying response-ability as Stengers’ etho-ecological practice lays out its immanent obligations that both limit and allow for agency to respond beyond self-reinforcing appeals and amid conflicting obligations. This agency in response-able practices requires careful experimentation. Everyday response-abilities are something we are all engaged in yet need cultivation in times of crises through careful tinkering.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I thank my colleagues from Erasmus School of Philsophy participating in the PhD seminar, as well as the anonymous reviewers, who provided me with important comments on this article. Especially thanks to Sophie van Balen, Dennis Prooi and Marli Huijer for their enthusiasm throughout the writing process. This project has received funding from the Erasmus Initiative ‘Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity’.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


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