in/vested, Sophie Mak-Schram

narrator Sophie Mak-Schram
term in/vested
published 4 April 2022,

Trinh T. Minh-Ha evocatively suggests a practice of "speaking nearby" to desist from reducing reality to representation. Her thinking, in turn, allows for a means of thinking away from a mode of solidarity that risks slipping into thinking mutuality before acknowledging difference, distance and dissidence.


Constituency, as a term or concept, is rooted in democratically political. I feel a slight discomfort in the glibness of "constituency". Like the poldermodel, where constituent groups are given voice but not necessarily agency beyond this, I am wondering about the structures that underpin the proposition of porosity, or remain elided by it. That is to say, what are the specific positions, commitments and dependencies of those of us (institutions and individuals) who propose constituent power with a generosity that might also function as oppressive or form-delimiting?


I propose the term in/vested as a means of thinking about one’s proposed proximity, embedded positionality and possible politicality when thinking of constituencies. Drawing back to the word’s pre-monetary meaning, investing refers to clothing or surrounding something. Vested in, or vested with, refers to an endowing of authority: this endowing implies a directionality but also a position. The power to, from one’s position with-within-against (per BAK’s thinking), to enable the voice or involvement of others. 


Investing’s subsequent financial associations - a recloaking of one’s existing capital - are associations that might also allow us to remain critical about some (museal) practices of constituency engagement. Inserting the slash as a moment of pause, a break that thinks along the lines of study and the undercommons (Moten and Harney), is a proposition to think in/vested as a future-oriented term: to think about how we might acknowledge power and positionality to become more politically proximate and co-constitute across institutional, representational and communal sites.