P031
The balcony

Convenors:
Konstantina Isidoros (University of Oxford)
Árdís Ingvarsdóttir (University of Iceland)
Stream:
Panels
Location:
Aula Magna-Spelbomskan
Start time:
14 August, 2018 at 13:15
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

The Balcony invites anthropologists to flock back to balconies - defying Malinowski - and engage in "deep play" to create intricately rich and innovatively theoretical ethnographic magic about balconies and humans in their myriad interactions, like Catalan pot-banging and Danish hyggeligt

Long abstract:

Malinowski instructed us to get off armchairs onto the verandah, then off verandahs to get in amongst the 'natives', to feel as well as hear their 'imponderabilia of everyday life'. (1961: 25). Abandoned and ignored, balconies are rarely mentioned in passing in ethnographic texts. Yet balconies are prolifically everywhere in human life: novels, fine art, theatre, political speeches, royal marriages. Only four texts can be located where a balcony takes centre stage: Ghannam (2002) on gender and class from balconies, Pande (2012) on 'balcony talk', Srinivas (2010) on cinematic balcony seating and Cowan (2011) on urban gossip from balconies in 15th-18th century Venice. Otherwise Chopra's single sentence of male domestic workers locked on balconies (2006: 158) and Bille (2013) on candles and string lights on Danish balconies to create hyggeligt exemplify the briefness of balconies in anthropology. Existing theories easily promise limitless application, such as Bourdieu's 'the world turned inside out', Lefebvre's (1991) 'Seen from the window', Heidegger's notion of dwelling, yet there is no actual body of ethnography to analytically play with. The Balcony invites ethnographers to flock back onto the balcony in its myriad forms, as often invited into armchairs by our interlocutors to gaze upon and philosophise the 'imponderabilia of life' from their balconies. We seek intricately rich and detailed ethnographies in classical kula-esque tradition, supported by innovative, cutting-edge "deep theory" in the recent HAU tradition - we welcome anthropologists to "deep play" (Geertzian cockfighting, 1973) with us on balconies and make new theoretical magic.