P024
History as lived reality and the future of anthropology

Convenors:
Christina Toren (St. Andrews University)
Richard Irvine (The Open University)
Stream:
Panels
Location:
U6-3
Start time:
21 July, 2016 at 9:00
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

Puts aside our taken-for-granted analytical distinctions and looks to ethnographic attempts to render analytical the categories used by the people with whom we work to describe and understand their environing world. The idea is to show how history inheres in the present, in what we are, do, and say.

Long abstract:

The objective of this panel is to put aside our taken-for-granted analytical distinctions (for example, biology-culture, individual-society, structure-process, language-speech, ontology-epistemology and so on) and look to ethnographic attempts to render analytical the categories used by the people with whom we work to describe and understand themselves and their environing world. The anthropologist/ethnographer may hope to demonstrate how these same categories come to have a purchase on the world, and in so doing likewise demonstrate their lived reality. This panel explores the idea that anthropology can be at the very heart of the human sciences, provided we re-think the analytical and political implications of the ideas of history and historicity that inform our analyses. Along with an awareness of historicity as an epistemological problem goes the realisation that one's own cherished theory is almost bound to be replaced by another (not necessarily better informed and thus more adequate, but certainly for the time being more fashionable). It follows that many (though by no means all) contemporary anthropologists are highly conscious of the historical nature of all our categories - that is, our own theoretical categories as well as those of our informants - even while we hold to the necessity of, and strive for, valid explanations of how the extraordinary multiplicity of human being has its source in what we all have in common.