Accepted Paper:

Dreaming and the Other  


Adriënne Heijnen (Aarhus University)

Paper short abstract:

Departing from ethnographic material of Icelandic society, this paper explores implications of dreaming and dream narration for the establishment and maintenance of social relationships.

Paper long abstract:

The investigation of different conceptions of 'the self' is eminent in anthropological studies of dreaming. In societies, where the dream is viewed as a creation of the mind, self-conceptions are related to the notion of the individual. On the contrary, in those societies where the self is conceived as a multiple self, dreams are often considered to be a true source of knowledge. In this last case, the relationship between the dreamer and other beings in the dream is anthropologically interpreted as a process of identity-making by the dreamer through the inclusion of others.

This paper seeks to explore dreams and 'the other' in the light of 'the other' and not only of 'the self'. I will depart from ethnographic data from the Icelandic society, where dreaming involves two main elements: A partly integration of 'the other' and 'the self', specifically of the dead and the living, and, secondly, various interactions between the dreaming-self and other actors appearing in the dream, whereby each actor's identity is sustained. Upon waking, dreamers might initiate or amend relationships with the people they have dreamed of and know from waking life. Thus, my argument is that a psychological inspired approach, viewing the other as being significant for the dreamer's self in 'making identity', does not appreciate fully the implications of the dream for the initiation and maintenance of social relations and, more than that, for the life of 'the other'.

Panel W074
Imprints of dreaming