Boredom as the inverted field
(University of Helsinki)
Paper short abstract:
Boredom is an intense sensation greeting us at foreseen and unforeseen contexts - the UN, the law firm, the activist campaign. This paper explores its multiple significances. Is it a break-through in empathic understanding, or the ultimate test distinguishing the anthropologist from ‘the native’?
Paper long abstract:
Boredom is not a concept that we started out with - it chose us. It became an intense sensation greeting us at both foreseen and unforeseen contexts - the UN, the law firm, the activist campaign. There it loomed, enwrapped in excessively tight formal agendas, standardized presentational formats, pre-choreographed interaction, excessive jargon. Amazingly, it captured us also in the academia, embodying the lack of objective 'otherness' between ourselves and our informants - only, it was not 'out there in the field' where we found unexpected sameness, but 'within' the domain we used to call our professional home. What is the significance of boredom? Does it alienate, suffocate, destroy? Is it a necessary evil of global collaboration that is only possible through the lowest common denominator - a shared space of forms at the expense of diversified content? Is boredom a prerequisite of self-sacrifice in the road toward a greater good, improving the world perhaps? Is it comforting, predictable, a source of continuity? What of boredom & the anthropologist - is it a break-through step toward empathic understanding of informants, or the ultimate test setting the anthropologist apart from 'the native'?
Boredom, intimacy and governance in 'normalized' times of crisis