Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Cultural Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Materiality
Secondary Theme: The Visual
This panel considers potentialities afforded by the image, the icon, and the body across religious, therapeutic, and forensic dispositifs. Here, the dispositif is revisited through sensorial modes of attunement and presencing. Recognizing the prevalent place of presence in defining the subject with relation to autonomy as well as singularity, how might we approach the question of presence not simply through the particularities of content, but through operations that render visible the labor of making presence? Perceived through its operations, presence never takes place in a neutral site, but is poised for the otherwise and the manifold. As a concept, presencing thus aims to emphasize the mechanisms of making presence. In this sense, presence can never be contained within a single place where it unfolds, nor entirely separate from it, but in the middle, midst, or medium that magnifies the here-else.
Moving beyond implicit bifurcations of the spiritual as a figure of depth and mass mediation as that of surface, the panel approaches the screen, the medium, and the corporeal as that through which a passage might be made available. We attend to techniques of presencing and praxises of emptying that reach to an elsewhere, manifest through a here-else. Such techniques often involve both capacitation and debilitation, through such temporalities as simultaneity, the unbidden, co-incidence, ritualization, circulation, and serialization. Topically, the papers range from the televization of the Eucharist in Charismatic Catholicism in Brazil, the human body as medium of cosmopolitical histories through spirit possession in China, the abreactive potentialities of therapeutic dispositifs in Argentinean systemic therapy, the ways spirits become present or absent for witnesses and for representatives of the British Society for Psychological Research, the capacity of poetic dispositifs in Iran to bring to presence an impersonal and fragmented here-else, and the impossible localization of danger and the unfaithful tracing of movement through GPS dispositifs in India. Through these disparate sites and registers, we explore how that which is conjured or hosted—spirit, affect, specter—manifests through movements of phenomenal presence and phantasy, and through animated materialities involving contact across human and non-human forms. Through these movements and contacts, we turn to the production and reception of the political, including politics of cosmologies, theologies, affects, and securitization. The political also raises questions of efficacy and metamorphosis, whether therapeutic, exorcistic, or divine. The papers thus also circle around the flights and limits posited by form, and the work of the limit that potentiates a screening cut, bringing forth glimpses of an otherwise.