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: Resilience
Secondary Theme: Persistence
‘How do we endure?’ has emerged as a central question of late liberalism, but what do we mean when we say endurance? While the term conveys a sense of persistence in transformation – even tirelessness – it can also invoke a contrasting image of inertness or resignation. The term echoes both the triumph of resilience and the possibility of collapse, invoking projects and forms of life that are worked and re-worked in dialogue with trouble. This encompassment of temporal multiplicity is methodologically productive for thinking conditions of experiences, as well as possible futures, but what limits may it contain? In this panel, we explore variations of endurance in anthropological work to assess the concept’s capacity to multiply time and interweave events and afterlives across diverse anthropological terrains—ecological, medical, salvific, and political. We experiment with the concept’s use in spaces of extraction and exhaustion, and evoke its methodological potential by thinking through fragments, traces, and recursions across chronological and spatial plains. How can endurance be used to think about the presence of absent objects? How might durability provide a platform for survival while simultaneously producing its eventual improbability? What to make of duress in anthropological writing, our anxieties about belatedness, and the ephemerality of our own accounts and theory? We think though these questions in diverse contexts: the secrecy surrounding cancer in Delhi, political homophobia in Indonesia, shifting notions of citizenship in the Iraqi Diaspora, born-again living amid duress in Malawi, and place-making practices in the highland frontiers of South-Central Asia. In doing so, we interrogate the limits and capacity of the concept by means of its ethnographic variation. Within endurance there is: endurance as lived achievement/skill; durability as quality or characteristic; enduring as that which lasts; duration as the condition under which things exist in the world (often, in this context, in opposition to nonexistence); with duress a kind of cloud hanging overhead in an atmosphere dotted with precarity’s forms. In sum, we aim to juxtapose variations on endurance in the hope of assessing the status of the concept in general.