Virtuous (im)mobilities: the good life and its discrepancies

Sonja Trifuljesko (University of Helsinki)
Heikki Wilenius (University of Helsinki)
Jakob Williams ├śrberg (Aarhus University)
Start time:
15 August, 2018 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel explores aspirations towards the good life and moral discrepancies these might engender, both on a collective and on an individual level. We welcome ethnographic contributions engaging with classical or more recent anthropological discussions on ethics and morality.

Long abstract:

Fischer (2014:2) defines the good life as "an ongoing aspiration for something better that gives meaning to life's pursuits". Such aspiration varies culturally, but it has two common features: its future orientation and moral connotation (ibid, 12). Thus, aspirations, by definition, entail a temporal move towards a life deemed to be worthy. In other words, aspirations are virtuous mobilities. The occurring move, however, is not only that of individuals or collectives. Aspirations, as discourses, move as well. At the same time, the profound ethical aspect might not be only discernible in the nature of aspirations, but also in the juxtaposition of potentially incompatible strivings. For instance, from those to be a good parent and a good academic, or from aspirations of anthropologists and their interlocutors. Another set of ethical issues pertaining to the good life comes from a possible disjuncture between aspirations and obligations. While having aspirations might be deemed as valuable in certain contexts, in others it may be the opposite: it can be the upholding of present obligations at the expense of aspirations that is considered virtuous. This panel invites ethnographic contributions exploring aspirations towards the good life and/or moral discrepancies these might engender. What kind of life is to be aspired to? Where do these aspirations come from and how do they travel? How are conflicts between divergent aspirations negotiated? How are aspirations and obligations balanced? Finally, how does the activity of aspiring itself get established and/or challenged as the righteous thing to do?