This panel seeks to further the discussion of imagination and creativity by focusing on anthropological approaches to innovation. How does the imagined become real? How might anthropologists move beyond ontological discussions of 'being' and onto exploring processes of 'making' and 'becoming'?
'The imaginary is what tends to become real', André Breton
Latour's actor-network theory emphasizes how the assemblage of systems of objects and information, rather than 'heroic' individuals, produces the novum (imaginative leaps that are scientifically plausible). In contrast, Deleuze and Guattari's original formulation of assemblage in their long essay 'On Kafka' celebrated the role of the individual in deterritorializing, re-assembling and creating new forms of knowledge, objects, and artwork. Deleuze and Guattari argued that such reassamblages can also reveal the social networks of power. Their analysis of Franz Kafka's writing, which went largely unpublished during his life, also acknowledges that not all creativity need be understood in terms of its perceived originality. Creativity can hinge on the recognition of others, on changes in political context, or within new formulations of knowledge and value.
By asking how creativity is evaluated and recognized across various cultural contexts we can trace the various forms of imagination involved. In this sense, the imaginary becomes real - not only though materialization, but by becoming a social fact. This panel seeks to further the discussion of the human imagination and creativity by turning its focus to the question of innovation: How are individuals or groups encouraged to be pioneering? When is an idea deemed ground-breaking? And how can/does anthropology explore innovation? More importantly, how might anthropologists from various sub-disciplines work together to move beyond ontological discussions of 'being' in order to explore the social processes of 'making' and 'becoming'?