Uncertain memories, disquieting politics, fluid identities
Dimitra Gefou-Madianou (Panteion University)
Eftihia Voutira (Macedonia University, Thessaloniki)
Dr. Yael Navaro-Yashin
Salle du conseil (in B)
Wednesday 11 July, 11:30-13:15, 14:30-16:15, Thursday 12 July, 9:00-10:45 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

Uncertainty presupposes certainty, in modern constructions of the 'self'. We address the degree to which people respond imaginatively to situations of uncertainty and how uncertainty can challenge hegemonic discourses and destabilize identities in unexpected ways.

Long abstract:

Uncertainty presupposes certainty, a concept constituting for long a key-idea of 'self conception' of societies in modernity and a key epistemological category in the definition of 'knowledge'. In social sciences, the construction of social reality has been directed towards the production of evidence-based certainties at the exclusion of uncertainty. This was affected through widespread technologies of control and management (e.g. management of risk, of health problems and the body, of emotions and social conduct). In recent decades the narrative of certainty has exploded especially in the context of global socio-political and economic developments and turned to one of complete uncertainty.

Anthropology has challenged the binarism of the certainty/uncertainty narrative. It has addressed the creative -though politically subversive- potential of uncertainty in social and political fields, explored the disquieting effects of control oriented policies. It has shown that uncertainty may not constitute a problem for all societies and that the quest for certainty does not always lead to the desired aims. Thus, while people may respond imaginatively in situations of radical uncertainty - violence, catastrophes, civil wars, economic crises- this potential cannot be totally suppressed when attempts at restoring "social order" are imposed by technologies of power. Even if this process "succeeds" in making people subscribe to the dominant definition of 'reality' by suppressing memories, or muting voices, it will always remain open to uncertainty. It is this uncertainty which challenges hegemonic political discourses and destabilizes identities in unexpected ways.

The workshop invites papers exploring relevant issues from a broad ethnographic perspective.