EASA2016: Anthropological legacies and human futures

(P086)
The art of slowing down
Location U6-26
Date and Start Time 22 July, 2016 at 09:00
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Giulia Battaglia (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3 ) email
  • Jasmin Kashanipour (University of Vienna) email

Mail All Convenors

Discussant Jonas Tinius (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Short Abstract

Slowness needs protection" (Eriksen 2001). Yet, does anthropology encourage 'slowness' in its own practice? We encourage reflections around the neoliberal politics of speed and the notion of 'slowing down' as a useful practice to re-vitalise anthropological legacies towards a more engaging future.

Long Abstract

Slowness needs protection", says Thomas Eriksen (2001) implying that processes of slowing down emerge when being supported by the dynamics of collective action on various scales. Yet, does the academic world, and more specifically anthropology, encourage 'slowness' in its own practice? In antithesis with the way in which the discipline has emerged and historically constituted itself through its long-term engagement in the field, in the past years 'slowing down' in academia has become synonymous with inefficiency, augmenting precariousness. Thus, what does this mean for the contemporary social role of anthropology? This panel encourages reflections around the notion of 'slowing down' as a useful practice to re-vitalise anthropological legacies towards a more engaging future. We invite participants to present methodological, theoretical, and/or experimental papers addressing ways through which this notion may challenge the neoliberal politics of speed increasingly affecting the academic world.

Building on our respective yet complementary research centred on concepts such as 'living anthropology' (Battaglia) and 'gradual gaze' (Kashanipour) vis-à-vis classic methodological ways of doing anthropology through participant observation, "with a whole library in [our] heads" (Augé and Colleyn 2006) which mirrors "the discipline's agenda of the moment" (Starn 2015), we seek to initiate discussions that reconnect our discipline to its 'essence', which is, for us, its art of slowing down. Accordingly, we call for papers that reflect on alternative models of engagement in the field and beyond the field, aiming at processes of 'unlearning' scientific automatisms while constantly 'learning' to engage with local ontologies and (re)shape future anthropologies.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

We should not make it slow, it has always been slow!

Author: Giulia Battaglia (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3 )  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores the slow essence of anthropology understood within social science through its arts rather than through its methodology. In fact, in what way can we concretely think an anthropology of engagement vs. an anthropology of representation (à la Ingold)?

Long Abstract

This paper will consider anthropology as a 'social science of art' rather than the counter part of its 'methodology'. Accordingly, it will ask: is it possible to think anthropology beyond its classic dualistic tradition? Or more precisely, is it possible to think anthropology beyond its method yet not without its work in the field? Indeed, is there a way to go beyond the classic debate around 'ethnography' as methodology (à la Marcus) and 'ethnography' as theory (à la Ingold)? And if yes, would this not be a useful way to reconsider the legacy of anthropology for a much more engaging, slow, future that opens up to other forms of participation, collaboration, engagement between (art) practices?

Based on ethnographic encounters and self-reflections concerning the modalities through which we relate to our research (in the field as much as outside the field), this paper explores the meaning of what I call 'living anthropology'. That is, an art form which is constituent of the discipline of anthropology but is existent outside the dual division between methodology and theory. 'Living anthropology' is a concept not far from what in this panel is addressed as the 'art of slowing down' yet it expands its meaning beyond anthropology and thus to other art practices.

Slowing down in the tear dealer: fake-business and the ethnographic endeavor in Lublin, Southeast Poland

Authors: Tomasz Rakowski (University of Warsaw)  email
Ewa Rossal (The Ethnographic Museum in Krakow)  email

Short Abstract

In this paper we present a description of the Tear Dealer project, an artistic fake-business in the town of Lublin(Southeast Poland) that created unforeseen tactics of all participants to adapt to the emerging reality of crying, slowing down and thus building unexpected moments of self-reflective turns-on.

Long Abstract

In this paper we present an ethnographic description of the Tear Dealer, project conducted by the artists Alicja Rogalska and Łukasz Surowiec, in the town of Lublin of Southeast Poland, in an urban area with high unemployment; full of pawnshops, and loan sharks. The main purpose of this paper is to show a kind of faked, new-business set in an impoverished urban district as a particular artistic-ethnographic trap designed for producing the moment of slowing down faced an unexpected emotional work. Further on, we will focus on how the “Tear Dealer” project has opened and provoked a series of moments requiring slowing down within the situation of tear dealing, thus leading to the effect of “language stretching” and “meeting the reflective” among the coming tear-sellers. In this way, it was created the quasi-experimental research situation in which the socio-biographical reality of all participants could have been unfolded and opened to the unplanned expressions and experiences.

A microtemporality of ethnography as microethnography of temporality

Author: Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov (Higher School of Economics)  email

Short Abstract

In this paper, I address the assumptions about linear time that underscore current debates about fieldwork temporalities. Drawing on Siberian materials, I use a temporal multiplicity of my own research as a tool to explore a temporal multiplicity of the post-socialism.

Long Abstract

George Marcus' (2003) observations that the slowness of ethnography, absolutely necessary for an in-depth immersion in any research context, is nonetheless 'unbearable' in relation the pace of changes in the world today have put the temporality of contemporary anthropology into sharp focus (Rabinow et al. 2008; Dalsgaard and Nielsen 2013). But what exactly is the slowness in question? What are the assumptions of linear time that underscore the understanding of speed of processes against which it is measured as well as the very methodological search for adequate ethnographic means to account for this speed? In this paper, I argue that this debate overlooks that both the temporality of the practices that we explore and our own research are neither linear nor singular. I chart this double heterochrony by drawing on examples of Siberian ethnography, and consider analytical implications of acknowledging this multiplicity. I situate my own 'unbearable slowness' in the face of change in temporal complexity of waiting time for a good moment to ask, of the sense of being late to ask and to see, and to fail to remember what one saw and asked when finally having time to write this down. My goal is doing so is to use this microtemporality of ethnography as microethnography of temporality.

Just how fast is fast academia?

Authors: Filip Vostal (Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences)  email
Tereza Virtová (Czech Academy of Sciences)  email
Libor Benda (Institute of Philosophy, Czech Academy of Sciences)  email

Short Abstract

The paper confronts the increasingly popular plea for ‘slow science’ with the existing studies on the changing nature of academic temporality. It seeks to advance detailed empirically grounded topography of the intensification of academic life, which would inform various critiques of fast academia.

Long Abstract

The notion of 'slowdown' is at the center of - and accounts for notable antipode in - recently emerging debates about intensification of academia/scientific life. Probably the theoretically most advanced plea for securing a specific 'slow' temporal regime for academia/science that would differentiate it from faster cultures of politics, economics and media to date has been presented by Dick Pels in his book Unhastening Science (2003). While Pels supports his normative thesis by an extensive historical account of the development of science as an inherently 'slow' mode of knowledge production and of the gradual colonization of science's temporal culture by politics and economics since the latter half of the 20th century, his argument lacks a more detailed empirical scrutiny. Nevertheless, there has been a growing number of sociological and anthropological studies of closely related issues, ranging from empirical inquiries into contemporary 'publish or perish' culture, academic capitalism, the effects of commercialization of knowledge, exponential growth of published scientific papers and the growing number of predatory publishing practices, to analyses of the impact of ICTs on scientific conduct. The paper will confront the plea for the 'slowdown' of science with the existing studies and outline a more detailed and empirically grounded topography of the issue by identifying the key problematic areas and exploring the ways they are related to one another.

Sensing the perceiving: an anthropology of aesthetics

Author: Jasmin Kashanipour (University of Vienna)  email

Short Abstract

Proposing an anthropological notion of slowing down, the paper explores the role of an 'anthropology of aesthetics' and of 'gradual gaze' as contemplation and 'sensing the perceiving'.

Long Abstract

Based on my previous work on 'gradual gaze', I refer to slowing down as a process of both unlearning and learning, which is to say, discovering and deconstructing one's own automatisms and connecting with the environment. In this regard, slowing down does not mean slowness and is not the counterpart of speeding up. But "the art of slowing down is a way of attentive thinking and having an impact on the kind of knowledge development" (Kashanipour 2015). Elaborating further the concept of 'gradual gaze', this paper proposes an 'anthropology of aesthetics' which, unlike most aesthetic theories, is not concerned with art and beauty but refers to the Greek word (aisthanomai), meaning 'to perceive' and 'to sense the perceiving'.

Due to life conditions in neo-capitalism which define the human as 'homo oeconomicus' exclusively, the gradual loss of 'sensing the perceiving' makes one vulnerable to abstract structures of high speed processes and systematic McDonaldization of life (Ritzer). At the same time one feels the fear of being dropped out of this high speed train. Being trapped, but at the same time involved in the structures of the present makes it a challenge to break this entanglement. Considering the constant loss of 'sensing the perceiving' and its consequences, the paper explores the role of an 'anthropology of aesthetics' and of 'gradual gaze' as contemplation.

Dancing communities in India: slow ethnography in performance studies: personal engagement and multi-local research

Author: Svetlana Ryzhakova (Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology)  email

Short Abstract

An analysis of in-depth slow ethnography in performance studies, deals with the dancing communities of North India. The question under study is a methodological clash of the parampara conception as a long-term exploration, which produces a “slow knowledge”, vs today’s economical and political challenges.

Long Abstract

Ethnographic research of traditional dance and music in India requires personal engagement into the art, at least to some extent. The best model of a performance study includes the ethnographer's education in the art under study. In case of Indian traditional dances like Kathak, Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi etc. this means to become a part of hereditary teacher-disciple's interconnection (guru-shishya parampara). This demands years of discipline cum observation. My study of traditional Kathak dancers' world turned to be a long-term personal study of the skill under one performing family (khandani), masters of music, dance and acting. At the same time, since late 1990's I conducted a multi-local research (Marcus (1995), Clifford (1997), Hannerz (1998), Wulff (2007) and her "yo-yo fieldwork"), traveling extensively, motivated by the fact that various dancing communities and performance styles in India are related to each other.

In this paper I am going to discuss a methodological clash of Indian conception of long-term and in-depth slow exploration of the subject (parampara) vs contemporary market demands for fast art, aimed at product making. The question is, how do the Indian traditional professional communities (biradari, gharana) respond to today's economical and political challenges by using their own "art of slowing down". The concept of "slow knowledge" will be compared here to that of "fast knowledge" in the case of North Indian traditional dancing performance cultures.

Anthropology as slow social science: some personal reflections

Author: Felicia Hughes-Freeland (SOAS)  email

Short Abstract

My paper connects different notions of slowness, tempo and duration as integral to understanding and realization to different forms and phases of fieldwork in Java, including dance practice, and two kinds of slowness in filmmaking.

Long Abstract

My paper connects different notions of slowness, tempo as integral to practice (a la Bourdieu), and duration as integral to understanding and realization (a la Camus) to different forms and phases of fieldwork in Java. Non-Javanese Indonesians invariably refer to the slowness as being at the heart of Javanese culture, but slowness has been central to my research and film practices in different ways. The pace and timing of research within one's anthropological life also changes. These include dance practice in fieldwork, slow techniques in filming, and the protracted process of making a film with Indonesian, editing across time and space. I will refer to early research when embodied participation in dance classes to test previous claims about movement and meaningfulness; to attempts to impose an experience of performative slowness on film audiences through a style of shooting and editing; and to my last research project , a collaborative film lasting 6 minutes which took nearly one year to complete. I will conclude with some comments about anthropology as resistance in the marketised world of Higher Education in relation to other manifestations of slowness and transition in western society.

When I turned on the cam-recorder in the African Copperbelt: looking at heuristic values of videotaping in the field

Author: Manon Denoun (EHESS / LAIOS - IIAC)  email

Short Abstract

Recording video changes fieldwork interactions as well as the possibility for the informants to view rushes increases his interest;videos emphasizes indeed the quality of relationships and thus expresses the specific rhythm of field encounters.

Long Abstract

Anthropology can be seen as a social science that elaborates methods to think and act towards shifting points of views ( Abélès, 2008: 247) ; such a definition underlines the great possibilities of video for anthropology, especially as regards its capacity to embark the spectator in contrasted points of view. I focus in this paper on the relationships created and captured by videotaping while doing 2014 and 2015 fieldworks the African Copperbelt. If the concept of 'participatory observation' may be difficult to agree on as globalization blurs the lines between local and global, using video can develop a contextualized anthropology by showing the social environment within which is produced the research. Moreover, if linked to the concept of 'pleasure of speaking' (Bourdieu, 1993:1408), we can say that fieldwork interviews offer room to such self-affirmation, video is a device that can enhance such pleasure as it enables immediate replay of the interview. This technological improvement can encourage the informant to question the reason and act of research. Furthermore, the temporal properties of the medium can insist on the dimension of research as a process. Any video expresses a specific philosophy of time as rhythm is intrinsic to video (Viola, 1995). Research videos can show the everyday encounters and uncertainty of the field which challenges the chronicle value of time that western societies emphasize (Zarifian, 2001). Anthropology can be a collaborative process which transforms the scientist himself (Schumaker, 2001) and fieldwork videos can demonstrate this specific and temporal dynamic.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.