Nadja Henß: Swimming in a world of Relationships: On Relational Entanglements / Spaces and Their Disruptions

 

Thesis Advisor: Grant Watson

August 2023

Abstract

This thesis is an investigation of how people relate (to each other). What exactly happens when we are relating? To get to the bottom of this question, this text explores the different relational spaces between, within, and around us, illuminating these spaces with references from philosophy, psychology, and in a figurative way. How essential relating is for humans becomes apparent at the moment when relationality is at risk, which was probably most evident during the period of isolation caused by the coronavirus pandemic. However, the prevailing “crises of connection” has not been averted; on the contrary, it is being further promoted by the current Western political and economic regime of “informal capitalism,” amongst other factors. What can be done against the advancing isolation of society when the Other is seen as a threat and no longer as a fellow human being? Next to academic voices addressing this problem, the text also presents statements from people who practise communal living in collectives on a daily basis. It becomes clear that relating does not simply happen by itself, but that it is an active practice that requires attention and time. This thesis aims to show the significance of our inherent relational existence and that relating can become a political act."