Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Identity and Equity
Secondary Theme: Materiality
Value has been of central concern to anthropology since the discipline’s origin. While much of the early work was in the province of economic anthropology (Bohannan 1959; Munn 1976; Weiner 1976), a recent resurgence of interest in value has led a wide range of anthropologists to rethink and retheorize these foundational works in light of new economic and social systems, technologies, and increasing globalization (cf. Hau 2013). Yet these emerging conversations have largely overlooked the extent to which value, as a concept of relational difference (cf. Saussure 1959), has also been foundational to the subfield of linguistic anthropology. While not always speaking in the language of “value” per se, linguistic anthropologists have long been interested in examining questions such as how particular ways of speaking become valued or devalued (Hill 1993; Rosa 2016) and the intersection of language and linguistic ideologies with other regimes of economic and moral value (Gal and Woolard 2001; Duchêne and Heller 2012; Woolard 2016). Most recently, a new generation of semiotically-inclined anthropologists have opened up these questions in new ways by bringing them into conversation with broader discussions of capitalism, aesthetics, materiality, and authenticity (Paxson 2010; Kratz 2011; Shankar and Cavanaugh 2012; Graan 2016; Nakassis 2016).
In this panel, we hope to build on these semiotic approaches to value and value-making through a focus on the idea of curation. By curation, we are referring to multimodal processes of assemblage and display of “things,” such as activities, demeanors, discourses, or material objects, such that their value becomes legible to others. This process of “curating value” requires, therefore, both the curator and their object of address to share a common ground of interpretation such that value becomes legible in the “right” way. Curation, in this sense, thus opens up the study of value to questions of legibility, modality, commensuration, translation, and transduction. Although curation is often imagined to take place at a particular scale, as in the curation of objects in a museum, we are also interested in how acts of curation-as-value-making can be scaled both up and down, from individual projects of self-fashioning and self-cultivation to larger projects of curation that take place at the level of city, region, or nation.