Face to Face: Connecting Proximity and Distance
University of Witwaterswand
Plenary Session I
Re-defining Europe: Perspectives from Socio-Cultural
Convenor: Andre Gingrich, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Andre.gingrich(AT)oeaw.ac.at
Europe is going through complex and contradictory processes of transformation and re- definition. The current phase of globalization thus inspires creative creolisation and re-invention, as much as protective reaction and active adaptation. On this basis, recent developments - ranging from the war in Iraq to negotiations with new incoming EU member countries, on to debates about a European constitution- have indicated widespread concerns about the possible future of identities not only in Europe, but also of Europe in wider contexts. These concerns go far beyond the political sphere, they also relate to science and technology, education and the arts, gender roles and social status, minority rights and nationhood. It is thus high time that social anthropology considers anew some of the crucial fields in which Europe is being re-defined, and re-defines itself.
Marilyn Strathern, University of Cambridge
Europe, the Scientific Citizen, and the Anthropologist
Susan Gal, University of Chicago
"What's News: Media Circulations and the Politics of Truth in the East of Europe"
Jean-Loup Amselle, Ecole des Hautes Etudes, Paris
What is at Stakes with the Deconstruction of Europe?
Andre Gingrich, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Transnational Politics and the Reconfiguration of Europe
Plenary session II
The Dynamics of Peace
Convenor: Signe Howell
University of Oslo, Department of Social Anthropology
In this session we will ask to what extent a peaceful way of life is deemed possible. What kind of ontology is a prerequisite for such a belief, and which social and cultural means are employed in order to achieve it? Peace as a goal may be viewed as a dynamic process whose achievement requires concerted efforts which, in turn, needs to be constituted upon a shared understanding of the possibility of its achievement. To what extent do face-to-face interaction play a significant part? To what extent may different gender ideologies account for differences? How may we account for a recent popularity in processes of atonement and reconciliation? If aggression and violence are part and parcel of what it means to be human, then how can we account for the existence of societies where aggressive or violent behaviour is conspicuous by its absence? We shall explore some attempts at creating and maintaining peace and of handling conflict at a societal level. From domestic quarrelling to feuding, persecution and warfare, to peace and reconciliation tribunals, various socio-culturally embedded understandings challenge other’s (whoever and wherever they may be) entrenched notions of right and wrong, of rights and responsibilities and, ultimately, raise questions of ontology, psychology and personhood. Through empirical examples from very different parts of the world, and addressing very different situations of the dynamics of peace, the papers will seek to highlight how people seek to establish peace and how they resolve situations that threaten societal equilibrium.
Richard Fox, Wenner Gren Foundation
Nonviolence and Charisma
Bruce Kapferer, University of Bergen
Peace and the New Order
Fiona Ross, University of Cape Town
Reconciliation and Strategies of Peace-Making: Thoughts on South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Fernanda Pirie, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
A Delicate Web of Order: Maintaining Peace in Village Ladakh
Plenary Session III
Younger Scholars Forum
When Communication comes to an end...
Convenors: Penny Harvey
University of Manchester, Department of Social Anthropology
University of Vienna, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology
Since the times of Malinowski, anthropologists have assumed
that the quality of ethnographic evidence depends on the quality of interaction
and communication with our interlocutors, i.e. the building of relationships
over time, language proficiency, as well as sustained engagement with people
in their daily lives.
This panel wants to scrutinize this taken-for-granted assumption by looking at the "discomfort of proximity". By this notion we refer to the many fields/times in which ethnographers may feel the need to distance themselves from those they seek to understand, such as in research among those who hold radical beliefs with which they profoundly disagree, or in situations of violent conflict. The panel asks researchers to reflect on what can be learnt from the radical disjunctures that often appear between ethnographers and their interlocutors during fieldwork. Recent work on mimetic ways of knowing has discussed how hunters and shamans avoid total identification while seeking to approximate another way of being. Participant observation as a method also entails the drawing together of proximity and distance. How do such ways of knowing help ethnographers to approach beliefs and practices from which they simultaneously wish to keep their distance?
Possible topics to be addressed include:
- Truth claims of the interlocutors which conflict with the ethnographer´s experience;
- Contexts in which the ethnographer resists close relationships and feelings of empathy.
- Contexts in which the ethnographer deploys the interconnection of proximity and distance as suggested by other mimetic ways of knowing.