Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Cultural Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students
Primary Theme: Inequality
Secondary Theme: Anthropocene
This panel critically engages with the concept of “extreme anthropologies” (Kuldova 2017) in terms of theories, field sites, and method(ologies). By grappling with the boundaries of extremity in arguably extreme times, panelists explore the potential for “the extreme” to clarify, subvert, and even dismantle oppressive power structures that pervade everyday life from ethnographic encounters.
Idealistic extremity is revealed in the navigating of everyday life within our neoliberal world of bureaucracy (Graeber 2015; Gupta 2012). Extremity makes sensible the often invisible politics that underlay the processes and aesthetics of our social worlds (Ranciere 2004). Extremity can take shape in engagements with hyperobjects (Morton 2013)—entities that exceed spatiotemporal specificity, such as conceptualizations of nuclear deterrence, interplanetary encounters, or global atmospheric politics. And by examining the boundaries of the extreme, we consider ways in which life is lived “otherwise” (Povinelli 2011), either through relegation to or by carving out seemingly extreme “exilic spaces” at the edges of capitalism (Grubačić and O’Hearn 2016).
Further, panelists grapple with extremity in the production of ethnographic knowledge, in their site selections and method(ologies). By engaging in experimental and/or multimodal ethnographic methods and presentation (Collins et al. 2017; Elliott and Culhane 2017), we reveal how engagements with the extreme may serve as what Foucault (2005) described in his Hermeneutics of the Subject as “paraskeuē.” In other words, we ask: how might articulating “the extreme” as a site or method for research serve as our “ethnographic equipment” with which we use to do “work” on ourselves as anthropologists?