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Dematerialization and Immateriality: the impact of intangibility in pedagogy and ethnography 
Claudio Pinheiro (Rio de Janeiro Federal University)
Subhashim Goswami (Shiv Nadar University)
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Monday 29 March, 11:15-12:45 (UTC+1)

Short Abstract:

This panel foresees discussing how immateriality and intangibility are affecting society including our relations to regimes of time, whether or not resulting from processes of dematerialization, corrosion or extinction.

Long Abstract

The world is dematerializing. Sounds no novelty that ordinary life is becoming immaterial and intangible, impacting our relationship with time. Understandings of de-materialization relate to the future, through ideas of progress, efficiency and immateriality, and to the past, through concepts of deterioration, corrosion or undoing. Most of these transformations have been accelerated by Covid-19 pandemic, a triggering event that helped readdressing regimes of time. While banking and judiciary systems move online, our contact with currency, stamps, certificates or paper, vanishes. Distant learning expanded, paired by a substantive reduction of knowledge being produced or circulating in printed format be it the absence of books, articles, notebooks, syllabi or prohibitive costs of such material leading to its extinction - especially in the global south. Coupled with this is the new sociality of the online/virtual space which has placed a challenge on ethnography to draw from a loss of the material and the tangible.

What kind of futures can we envision in the wake of immaterial worlds, and how are anthropologists poised to inhabit and study such futures? Is the process of dematerialization a productive void fostering new forms of sociability? What possibilities are enabled or disabled within our pedagogic/research frames? How to produce ethnographies of inaccessible or intangible sites; of what we cannot reach, see, smell, listen to or interact with? This panel invites papers addressing how immateriality and intangibility are affecting society including our relations to temporality, whether or not resulting from processes of de-materialization, corrosion or extinction.

Accepted papers: