Monday, October 8, 2012


On October 12, the Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley and the Curatorial Practice at the California College of the Arts are partnering to host a live-streaming of the Creative Time Summit, an annual conference in New York that brings together cultural producers--including artists, critics, writers, and curators--to discuss how their work engages pressing issues affecting our world. To jump-start the conversation in advance of the event, attendees have been asked to submit a paragraph on a keyword associated with one of the summit themes: Inequities, Occupations, Making, or Tactics. This posting is by Jieni Li, American Cyberculture student at UC Berkeley.

Keyword: Provisionalism

I believe that provisionalism is a tactic utilized in many occasions such as rhetorical speeches, political campaigns and religious protests. 

Provisionalism is a dimension of a supportive communication climate that is committed to solving the group's problems by hearing all of the ideas; encourages the experimentation and exploration of ideas in the group. Provisional theory takes its starting point from the Kantian notion that the concept of provisional right applies to institutions which imperfectly mirror their own normative principles, and thus that practical politics must follow a rule of provisional rather than conclusive right. 

Provisionalism allows the theorist to focus on the midrange problem of maintaining the possibility of progress, rather than on determining particular policy or even regime type outcomes and expecting the practical problems to be resolved separately.  

A focus on provisional rather than conclusive right makes it possible to analyze institutions that do not make absolute pronouncements on what counts as just.  

In contrary, a conclusive perspective allows political theorists to focus away from attempts to influence decisions emanating from the traditional locations of authoritative judgment, and toward critical analysis of the places where political actors may gain or lose capacities for substantive self-rule.  

Provisionalism may seem like a positive reinforcement initially; however, it avoids concrete details in proposals, thus it is often inconclusive. This is used frequently in political speeches expressing idealistic goals such as “pursuing freedom and liberty”, “creating just decisions”, etc. 

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