Trespassing Journal

Preface: On Trespassing

Esra Atamer


Trespassing both as a concept and as a site of intervention addresses the increasingly evident inadequacy of humanities in finding home for a particular intellectual production that traverses across the borders of existing disciplines and that does not conform to their established criteria, nurse methods, purchase and protocols. Trespassing aims to demonstrate the homeless nature of this production and demands an onto-political and historical analysis of its status. As opposed to the inter or multi disciplinary paradigms that are limited solely to the knowledge-exchange between two or more disciplines and lack an understanding of the conditions and determinations of this emergence, Trespassing invites to think within the problematics of this novel production that cannot be conceived without reference to the social and cultural transformations entangled with and effectuated by global capitalism. It is our aim to develop a sense of what does not belong to any place, or rather belongs to a non-place, and thus resists any appropriation as such.

The academic works that utilize various concepts from different domains such as science, art, literature, and philosophy do not simply borrow from these domains, they rather re-invent by altering the very nature of these concepts while defying the purity of these domains all together. During the process they form a mental ecology that reveals the inadequacy of the notion of discipline and puts its status in question. The concept of mental ecology shares a kindred relation with what Marx calls the general intellect, which, in simple terms, refers to the abstract knowledge as the force of production. Mental ecology extends the question of scientific and technological production into artistic, literary, philosophical productions by entailing yet exceeding the acts of transgression and of crossing-borders towards that which is common. In that sense, Trespassing denotes not only an invasion but also an invention that withstands the capitalist appropriation and destruction of the diverse practices and knowledges.

On the face of such destruction, Trespassing points out the pressing need to re-articulate the constituents of an ecology that can evolve into the shared habitat of art, science, literature, and philosophy. However, is this concept sufficient to eliminate the established borders between these domains? In fact, it ultimately undermines this question by radically shifting its problematics. To reinscribe the argument: the ecology of thought in effect allows enterance into a new terrain such that borders themselves become the milieu of exchange among various domains. This is best demonstrated in Étienne Balibar’s incisive reference to André Green: “you can be a citizen or you can be stateless, but it is difficult to imagine being a border.” It is perhaps this uncanny status of the works produced at the borders that thematizes the social, economic, and politic complexity of their existence, and helps advance a habitat of thought in which border attains a new sense that simultaneously separates and unites as a metabolic fold.