Objects of mistrust. The relationship between material environment, culture, and beliefs
Radu Umbres (Faculty of Political Sciences, SNSPA)
Examination Schools Room 9
Start time:
21 September, 2018 at 16:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel calls for papers looking at things as created in and constitutive of social relationships based on mistrust.

Long abstract:

Things, places, natural or built environment mediate fundamental social relationships between people. Whether through mode of production, mode of transmission, property and exchange, the architecture of dwellings and public places, and in many other domains, the material world unites and divides people in various ways. Since at least Malinowski (1920), we have seen how things enter the trust relationships between people. However, they do it in many ways, since kula and gimwali objects follow different routes of social expectations, trust, long-term or short-term relationships (see Hart 1986 on money). Built environment is designed with an eye towards trust as we saw in Bourdieu's interpretation of whoe the material berber house divides world into kinds of social relationships and attitudes, from privacy and feelings to public exchange. The same Bakhtaman sacra provides either secret power or deceptive illusion depending upon the initiation stage (Barth 1975).

This panel calls for papers analysing the role of objects in representations and practices of trust between people. Following recent interests in the dark sides of trust (Carey 2017), what role do objects, sites and other tangible realities play in how people imagine the dangerous, polluting, unpredictable or aggressive intentions and behaviours of other people? How do things symbolically and practically divide between trust and mistrust? Why is material culture "good to think with" in matters of epistemic beliefs? Such questions kick off a conversation based on ethnographic or cross-cultural analyses focusing particularly on mistrust, deception, secrecy and other forms of epistemic uncertainty.