Reviewed by: General Anthropology Division
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Ethics
Secondary Theme: Resilience
Anthropology seeks to describe the human condition, yet emotion has been largely theoretically and methodologically absent from anthropological endeavors. While anthropologists have “long relied on emotional relationships of rapport, empathy, and compassion” (Lindholm 2008:30) to conduct our fieldwork, an explicit exploration of emotions both in “fieldwork” and “homework” has not emerged as a prominent object of study for our discipline. Although the anthropology of emotion has received attention within psychological anthropology (Levy 1983, Lutz and White 1986); and more recently on affect, emotion and embodiment(Ngai 2005, Martin 2013, Gould 2009, Mazzarella 2009); emotion remains on the margins of anthropology. As other disciplines begin to attend to emotion and affect as fundamentally political and cultural (Berlant 2007, Ahmed 2004, 2013, 2010, Wilson 2015, Cvetkovich 2012), what can an anthropology of emotion do? We argue that much work still needs to be done, for “emotions are inextricable elements of thinking, speaking, and acting; and that we ignore them at our peril” (Beatty 2014:546). This roundtable critically explores the ways in which emotion, within our methodologies and our theoretical considerations, has been absent, and in which ways its presence can be fruitful. What kinds of knowledge can be produced when we think reflexively about our own cultural contexts of emotions as they influence our research? What do we lose when we exclude emotions in the name of ‘objective’ research? What is the epistemological place of emotion in our discipline? How might emotion reflect and reproduce the cultures to which we generously dedicate our scholarly attention? What are the methodological, ethical, and theoretical ramifications of engaging emotion as an object of study, and engaging emotionally with our research?