Roundtable - Invited Status Awarded
Invited by: Society for Cultural Anthropology
Of interest to: Students
Primary Theme: The Political
Secondary Theme: Ethics
Since 2017, the Society for Cultural Anthropology has hosted a Lights Out roundtable at the AAA, shutting off the fluorescent conference-room lights to enable unconventional modes of narrative and storytelling to emerge in the darkness. This year, we imagine that dark space as a darkroom, where darkness is the theme, the method, and the sensory context. In a black & white darkroom, red light makes visible images that would otherwise be destroyed by sunlight or incandescent light. The red wavelength, in this case, negotiates between the visible and invisible. It allows for a liminal spectrum that does not negate darkness but works within it to illuminate a trace, a memory, an unstable chemical reaction that would otherwise remain imperceptible. Darkness not only occludes; it reveals. And the darkroom as space and as method enables a certain seeing, a telling.
Darkness is also a political trope for today, the age we live in. Democracy, as they say, dies in darkness, and these are dark times, marked by “black sites” where unspeakable, hidden horrors unfold, outside public visibility and beyond the law. And yet, if power hides in the dark, what can darkness reveal about power? How might we take the dark of the darkroom as space and as method to interrogate the politics of darkness, darkness as politics? How, in other words, might the revelations of the darkroom have critical, political purchase? What other sensory modalities might enable a similar method of revelation, of dis-invisibilization? These other attunements to darkness might take form as acoustic traces, tactile encounters, photonic emissions, olfactory reminiscences, or performances of an inter-realm of the imagination or the spiritual. How, then, might the sensory, the extra-sensory, and the political come together?
Presenter-performers will engage darkness as theme and method to produce the roundtable as an anthropological darkroom of sorts, using non-visual or unconventionally visual sensory engagements as an opportunity to tell a different kind of story, where darkness becomes a space, a passage, toward oblique ways of knowing.
Featuring: Aisha Beliso de Jesus; Franck Billé & Elizabeth Dunn; Aimee Cox; Abou Farman; Mayanthi Fernando; Eduardo Kohn & Manari Ushigua; Lucinda Ramberg; Lisa Sang-Mi Min