Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Association of Black Anthropologists
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Ethics
Secondary Theme: Persistence
If the ontological turn and concerns about the anthropocene have foregrounded the entanglement of human and non-human futures in recent years, others have argued for a return to “the human” itself as demanding further scholarly attention (Wynter 2003, Iman Jackson 2013, Weheliye 2014). Following Christina Sharpe's call to become "undisciplined" (2016), and engaging with theoretical works which summon us to assess and transform our engagements within anthropology, this panel interrogates the concept of the human, and reflects on anthropology both as a relational practice and as a mode of knowledge production. What does it mean to “theorize in ex-centric sites”, (Harrison 2016)? And how can we do this in a way that does not simply constitute an “intervention” that acts as a corrective to ways of seeing the world that do not foreground intersectionality (Cooper 2015)?
This panel aims to generate cross-thinking amongst scholars attending to ways of being and enduring in the wake of historical and contemporary violence. Panelists all offer ethnographically grounded reflections that engage with modes of thinking and knowing otherwise. Papers explore the "frictive dimensions of engaged scholarship" in the context of the racialization of and anthropological engagement in US education (Liu), the "epistemic solidarity" of knowing as human/medicine in Central Californian healing practices (Raschig), "laughter and breath as an archive of knowledge" in an East African refugee camp (Surie von Czechowski), the epistemological stakes of diagnostic refusal in French-Caribbean rehabilitation (Rabanes), the "reconfiguration of notions of personhood and humanity" through the embodied knowledge of NYC subway dancers (Feliciano), and the work of "accomplice anthropology" to "actively build-together-what-could-be" in New Orleans Black feminism (McTighe).
Collectively, we ask: What does it mean to take “knowing differently” as an archive? How do we center our epistemological constructions on embodied, indigenous, non-dominant, relational, spatial, and affective ways of knowing? How are these questions of ‘the human’ engaged, refracted, imagined, transformed in the thick of our closest relationships with our colleagues and interlocutors on the ground? How are our ethnographic engagements marked by a search for living beyond the confines of the Rights of Man? How do the kinds of relationality and richness of life we engage in the space defined as “fieldwork” push us to question the supposed divide between the field and our lives as anthropologists? If terms like “radical alterity” always already demarcate a distance from “alternate” ways of knowing (Harrison 2016), in what ways can attunement within the thick of ethnographic relationships call into question this binary? Crucially, recognizing racialized violence as an ongoing structural condition, how can we attend not just to the suffering, but to the life within scenes of ruination - in other words, the “politics of living” (Feldman 2012) - as part of our ethical imbrication with our collocuters? What potentialities of being otherwise resurface in this de/re/centering? Our hope is that amplifying such practices can challenge the narratives of teleological progress or overcoming, and instead contributes to the building of possible presents.