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Caring is normally intertwined with the mechanisms of individuation. A prior understanding of who or what in principle particularly needs to be cared for in this world somehow presupposes the fulfilment of caring. This implicit clarity binds an ontological moment with an ethical one: the existence of ‘fragility’ (somebody or something to be cared for) in the world mingles together with the alleviation of possible harm and suffering for those in need of care. The exercise of care implies that the world is not homogeneous in terms of the needs of the beings that inhabit it, and that this heterogeneity imposes obligations on some beings to care for others. That said, the vocabulary of beings and actions is already at hand, so to speak. Each ontological position has a specific function, and this function is supported by a repertoire of corresponding practices: each participant engages into caring relationship in a fairly specific role or within particular template. How to conceptualise care when this 'folk' ontology is suspended?

Ellen Rutten is Professor of Literature, chair of the Modern Languages department at the University of Amsterdam, and editor-in-chief of the journal Russian Literature. Her research interests include Russian and global contemporary literature, art, and media. Among other publications, she is author of Sincerity after Communism (Yale University Press 2017; translated into Russian as Iskrennost’ posle kommunizma in 2022 by Neprikosnovennyi zapas), and Unattainable Bride Russia (Northwestern University Press 2010). She is co-editor of Memory, Media and Conflict (Routledge 2014), Poetins rechtbank: proteststemmen uit een autoritaire staat (Nieuw Amsterdam 2018), and Imperfections (Bloomsbury 2021).

Peter A. Safronov is currently a guest researcher for the Global Digital Cultures Project at the University of Amsterdam. He is also a fellow at the Netherlands Institute for the Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences which is a part of KNAW Humanities Cluster. His current conceptual and empirical research is focused on care and caring across offline and online environments. Mr. Safronov taught philosophy, education studies and creative writing in top-tier Russian universities up until 2018 when he deliberately quit his university professorship protesting against suppression of academic freedom. During recent years he worked as a schoolteacher. He also accomplished a number of visual essays in collaboration with artists and architects.