Accepted Paper:

The holographic world: movement, logics, and patterns for an anthropology beyond humans  


Vito Laterza (University of Agder)
Bob Forrester (Swaziland National Trust Commission)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the intertwining of two foundational logics at work in human and non-human life processes. In order to bring back movement in the craft of anthropology, a shift from a "straightlinear" emphasis towards an integrated "holographic" approach is called for.

Paper long abstract:

To focus on movement as such, one needs to abandon the search for essences, categories and fixed or fixable boundaries and identities. This shift calls for a qualitative change in the very logics to be employed for the task at hand. We will explore the intertwining of two foundational logics at work in human and non-human life processes, including what are traditionally defined as "observation" and "theory". One is what Tim Ingold calls "straight-linear" thinking and its basic operations are well exemplified by formal logic in the analytical tradition. Its main purpose is to identify and separate entities and domains. These can then be connected through straight lines to constitute formal models with explanatory and predictive value. Inspired by David Bohm, we call the other logic "holographic". In a hologram, each section of the photographic plate contains the whole three-dimensional image, viewable through various angles and perspectives. Similarly, holographic logic works on the assumption that any part of a system contains the whole it belongs to, in some form or another. It privileges interconnectedness, holism, and immanence and employs metaphors and metonymies as basic logical operations. Its main purpose is to dissolve domain-specific boundaries and to reveal part-whole connections and relations of contiguity.

We will draw on fieldwork-based examples from Swaziland, to show that anthropological knowledge is at the same time local, non-local, relational and distributed. Logics, as a kind of movement, belong to life-in-the-make, flowing alongside human and non-human entities, and contributing to patterning-in-the-world.

Panel P02
Whirls of organisms: forms and movements of life