This panel invites reflections on "emptiness" as an object of study and a lens for analyzing how people and places become disconnected from and attempt to reconnect with what they understand to be meaningful life.
From de-industrialized towns to depopulated rural regions, from war-ravaged villages to flooded coastlines, there is intensified circulation of narratives and images of emptiness in the global public domain. Emptiness is caused by war, disaster, and departure of capital, the state or people, or, on the contrary, by concentration of wealth or statecraft. Depending on the perspective, it manifests as a sense of incoherence, displacement, and uncertainty, or as a promise of future prosperity. On the one hand, emptiness marks a transitional state between a world that has ended and a world whose contours are not yet visible. On the other hand, the lived experience of emptiness becomes an enduring state of affairs that is governed by a variety of actors, some of whom try to manage emptiness while others strive to alleviate it. Emptiness is thus not merely physical emptiness or absence of life, but rather a reconfiguration of relationships between people, places, and things, as well as between pasts, presents and futures. This panel invites reflections on "emptiness" as an object of study and a lens for analyzing how people and places become disconnected from and attempt to reconnect with what they understand to be meaningful life. Submitted papers may engage with emptiness as an observable reality, a mode of experience, a discursive trope, or a commodified aesthetic. They may address emptiness as an ethnographic category or analyze imaginaries of emptiness in particular philosophical, ideological or historical projects.