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Accepted Paper:

Interlocutors and anthropologist in and out of cosmopolitanism  

Author:

Narmala Halstead (University of Sussex)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, I consider that encounters with Guyanese East Indians and related experiences demonstrate problems and challenges of ‘being cosmopolitan’ vis-à-vis overt forms of othering. In disentangling these forms, I also reflect on my positioned presences and certain knowledge debates.

Paper long abstract:

Drawing on case studies from the field and other lived encounters, I consider how understandings of ‘cosmopolitan persons’ materialise or shift vis-à-vis specific voicing for and of others. These understandings occurring in tandem with the anthropological privileging of research participants’ voices are implicated in forms demarcating identities and othering. Such forms also relate to a symbolic violence suggestive in ‘our’ study of other humans and certain publicness of anthropology as exotic or less contemporary. That the ideas of voicing and violence are in tension – of empathy while traversing a boundary as one to be retained - upsets an embedded notion of anthropological ‘sameness’ with others to suggest that the messiness of field relations from joined vantage positions includes interlocutors’ dialoguing against particular located primary identities. This relates to how a notion of co-presence retains boundaries between anthropologist and participant as problems of othering. While various anthropological self-critiques and revisionist approaches mark the discipline – from interrogating the historical gendered ‘Western anthropologist’ in the remote single field location to examining the ‘entry’ and certain problematic defining of native anthropologists – the other remains invoked in and out of field-sites. The paper considers that certain exchanges, starting with some interlocutors questioning my project and linking anthropology with the colonial past, allowed for an overt focus on their cosmopolitan identities. This also related to positioned presences of anthropologist and interlocutors and provided for spaces to overturn implied views of cosmopolitanism as new or contrary to ‘being human’.

Panel Speak03b
Cosmopolitan interiority, cosmopolitan responsibility II