P03
Exploring 'atmospheres': an anthropological approach?

Convenors:
Sara Asu Schroer (University of Aberdeen)
Susanne Schmitt
Discussant:
Tim Ingold
Location:
Playfair Building, Fellows Library
Start time:
20 June, 2014 at 9:00
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

This panel invites an engagement with the concept of 'atmospheres' and its relevance for anthropological research. Focussed on an exploration of atmospheres, we will discuss critically how affect, perception, sociality and actions are creative of and co-created by atmospheric spaces and bodies.

Long abstract:

The notion of 'atmosphere' has always been part of anthropological discourse. It often occurs in texts and conversations, as part of ethnographic descriptions and personal field notes. In these instances atmosphere seems to refer to something vague and diffuse, a phenomenon that stems from our affective engagement with the world - evocative and difficult to grasp in terms of rational explanation. Yet few attempts have been made so far to explore the value of the concept of atmosphere for anthropological inquiry. This panel will explore how the concept of atmospheres can inform and be made productive within anthropological and ethnographic research. We are interested in the questions of how atmospheres might be addressed and understood and whether their hazy and vague constitution might actually be inviting to further complicate the boundaries between the material and immaterial, presence and absence, individual and collective as well as body and place. Atmospheres seem to have an affinity to the in-between, the relational and situatedness. Like clouds in the sky they are ever forming and reforming, appearing and disappearing, never finished or at rest. Atmospheres can be sensed by a singular subject yet have collective affective qualities that evade the singular, can be created (e.g. for political, commercial, ritual purposes) but are also co-creating the ways through which we sense and perceive in the world. We would like to invite papers from a variety of anthropological fields to explore the affective and performative character of atmospheres through ethnographic, theoretical or methodological reflections.