It's gone - an anthropology of loss 
Stefanie Lotter (SOAS)
Robert Thornton (University of the Witwatersrand)
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Friday 29 August, 9:00-10:45, 11:00-12:45 (UTC+0)

Short Abstract:

This workshop explores 'loss' as a conceptual frame to analyze change and to seek to understand it as constitutive of meaning rather than simply as absence.

Long Abstract

We wish to re-imagine the apparently ´missing' as paradoxically present by exploring loss as an absence that is also a defining presence. We would like to examine loss as in decline and undoing of relations, the unlearning and forgetting of abilities and the loss and destruction of objects.

In general we tend to describe change with the beginning of a new paradigm, epoch or possibilities. However, loss may happen at the beginning, middle or ending of processes. For this workshop and a subsequent publication we would like to invite papers that focus on:

The loss of personality, mind, identity, for instance:

• loss of a past through the decline of memory or the loosing of ones


• loss of a future with its missed chances or closed options

Loss as central/defining absence, for instance:

• Loss of a parent, virginity - redefining your kinship role,

• loss of love in rejection or death

The loss of objects, values, knowledge and goals, for instance:

• loss of knowledge about material culture

• loss of 'heritage' objects as loss of culture

• loss at games or of money and the experience of defeat

The loss of past or future for instance:

• decolonisation as the undoing of colonialism rather than a state of


• finality of loss in war or violence as loss of an expected future and

condition for alternative futures, or the unrecoverable future.

Accepted papers: