P35
Inner landscapes: ethnographies of interior dialogue, mood and imagination
Convenors:
Andrew Irving (University of Manchester)
Nigel Rapport (St. Andrews University)
Location:
Victoria Rooms G12
Start time:
7 April, 2009 at 14:30
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

Interior dialogue, mood, reverie and imagination are essential to everyday life, action and practice. Nevertheless, neither anthropology nor archaeology have a coherent theory of how interiority relates to public and social life, let alone an established methodology with which to to access people's inner worlds. Terrifying this...

Long abstract:

Interior dialogue, mood, reverie and imagination are essential features of human thinking and being and are integral to many types of everyday action and practice. Nevertheless, wariness about making claims about people's inner lives means they are often actively excluded from ethnographic accounts or alternatively their content and character is simply inferred from the surrounding social and material context. Consequently, anthropology finds itself without a coherent theory of how interiority relates to public and social life, let alone an established methodology with which to access interior states. However, unlike literary or artistic attempts to understand people's interior dialogues and imaginative worlds, an ethnographic approach presents various epistemological and methodological problems when attempting a truthful evocation of people's lived experiences. More specifically: 1. What is the relationship between inner experience and its expressive exteriority that is present to the eye, the ear and other sense organs that make the experience 'open' to anthropological documentation, classification and theorisation? 2. What counts as 'evidence' and what ontological status should we ascribe to inner dialogue, imaginative worlds, moods, urges, fleeting feelings, random thoughts, free association and emotional reverie without turning them into reified states or static properties? 3. How can we understand the ways that thinking incorporates exterior forms and people's surroundings continually elicit and provoke interior thoughts, emotions and sensations without over-determining the surrounding social, cultural and material environment? 4. Can archaeology or anthropology research and access people's trajectories of thought, emotion and imagination through existing methodologies or do we need to experiment with other ways of knowing and representation?