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Accepted Paper:

Owners and hosts: an ethnographic analysis of responsibility through Guna art  
Paolo Fortis (Durham University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper considers notions of ‘ownership’ and ‘responsibility’ - in kinship, politics and ritual - through looking at Guna ritual artefacts. Showing how relations are immanent in and modelled through objects it is argued that meaning is created through timely material and social processes.

Paper long abstract:

This paper is an ethnographic response to objects that provide a model for social relations of ‘ownership’ and ‘responsibility’. Through looking at Guna ritual artefacts I show that relations characterized by notions of ownership and responsibility are immanent within these objects central to ritual life and everyday practices of dealing with non-human alterity. By the same token, relations of ownership and responsibility are found in other aspects of Guna life, from kinship to politics. Looking at the manifold relations concretized within Guna artefacts and refracted through them allows a modelling of social life that escapes signification - the inscription of meaning on objects and relations – and foregrounds generativity – the creation of meaning through material and social practices. The style of objects, with Gell, is a relational matrix containing the possibility of transformation based on the virtually unlimited combination of limited elements. With this case study, I intend to further show that relations modelled in the object constitute the very essence of style as a dynamic system containing the preconditions of its transformations in time.

Panel Speak22a
Art, response, and responsibility I
  Session 1 Wednesday 31 March, 2021, -