Miceli, Vanessa Nathalie.
Uncertain Grounds: Key Moves in the Making of Modernity, from Tudor England to the Globalized Present.
Degree: PhD, Social & Political Thought, 2020, York University
Which historical lens and what scope can capture modernitys complex social, political, economic, and epistemic permutations? Using an historical interpretive lens to explore contingent moments in its making, this work seeks to describe a core dynamic within modernity. In modernity, the assertion of freedom from rooted systems of meaning ushers in radical uncertainty. In response, new certainties are constructed for guiding human action, but being grounded upon indeterminacy these are necessarily provisional and open ended. Uncertainty thus grows in proportion to the expansion of freedom and the abstraction of foundations, making the drives to know and to control insatiable. To narrate a history of this dynamic, I frame it as a series of strategies for grounding upon groundlessness: surveying and mapping, enclosing and improving; risking and insuring. This narrative is largely set in the particular soil of British history, where the discourses surrounding efforts to ground property and knowledge upon new certainties uncovers the contingent nature of truth and legitimacy in modernity. In the Tudor period customary knowledge of the land was delegitimized as estate surveyors began to measure and represent land from the distanced perspective of geometry. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the discourse of improvement legitimized the practice of enclosure as the means of securing certainty of ownership in order to cultivate endless growth, while Baconian science pursued a parallel strategy. In the eighteenth century, risk was objectified in probability theory and traded in insurance and investment markets. Since the nineteenth century risk management has been applied to populations and has become the guarantor of security and the means of governing societies across the globe. But perpetual efforts to know and contain risks have only generated more insecurity. I conclude that while founded upon freedom, modernity is a compulsion that draws us ever further from the soil of particularity. Using an historical interpretive approach and drawing on the histories of science, capitalism and insurance, as well as theories of modernity, property and risk, this project is an interdisciplinary effort to understand the making of key dynamics within modernity.
Advisors/Committee Members: Canefe, Nergis (advisor).
Subjects/Keywords: Philosophy; Modernity; Property; Epistemology; Legitimacy; Abstraction; Objectification; Uncertainty; Open future; Groundlessness; Enclosure; Surveying; Mapping; Improvement; Risk; Insurance; Quantification; Social property; Statistics; Technologies of distance; Providence; Probability; Modern dynamic; Rationality; Boundary making; Critiques of modernity; Interpretivist methodology; Alienation; British history; Insurance as governance
to Zotero / EndNote / Reference
APA (6th Edition):
Miceli, V. N. (2020). Uncertain Grounds: Key Moves in the Making of Modernity, from Tudor England to the Globalized Present. (Doctoral Dissertation). York University. Retrieved from https://yorkspace.library.yorku.ca/xmlui/handle/10315/37448
Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):
Miceli, Vanessa Nathalie. “Uncertain Grounds: Key Moves in the Making of Modernity, from Tudor England to the Globalized Present.” 2020. Doctoral Dissertation, York University. Accessed July 13, 2020.
MLA Handbook (7th Edition):
Miceli, Vanessa Nathalie. “Uncertain Grounds: Key Moves in the Making of Modernity, from Tudor England to the Globalized Present.” 2020. Web. 13 Jul 2020.
Miceli VN. Uncertain Grounds: Key Moves in the Making of Modernity, from Tudor England to the Globalized Present. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. York University; 2020. [cited 2020 Jul 13].
Available from: https://yorkspace.library.yorku.ca/xmlui/handle/10315/37448.
Council of Science Editors:
Miceli VN. Uncertain Grounds: Key Moves in the Making of Modernity, from Tudor England to the Globalized Present. [Doctoral Dissertation]. York University; 2020. Available from: https://yorkspace.library.yorku.ca/xmlui/handle/10315/37448