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Accepted Paper:

Thinking without the Box: Questioning the usefulness of "concepts" to the understanding of human flows  


Jana Al Obeidyine

Paper short abstract:

This paper will question the usefulness of theoretical concepts to the understanding of human flows and the formation of we(s). However, it will attempt to explore alternative solutions the potential problem.

Paper long abstract:

This paper questions the usefulness of concepts to the understanding human flows and intersectional points. During my MA thesis, I attempted to use creolisation as a concept to illustrate how hybridity, fusion, creativity and innovation became embedded in the Lebanese culture and identity. This paper will explain why I abandoned the concept and opted instead for Roberto Unger's theory of False-necessity to illustrate the peculiarity of the Lebanese case.

Unlike structures, flows are fluid streams in perpetual motion; they converge, diverge but rarely solidify. Although, 'we(s)' are formed at the intersection of flows, intersectional points (crossroads; super-diverse cities) aren't in themselves static. Being made of moving particles makes them mutable points. Theoretical concepts, on other the hand, are abstract ideas bound by their definitions. No matter how encompassing is a concept; it remains a static lens through which we examine a phenomenon. So, when we convert a fluid phenomenon into a theoretical concept we are essentially restraining its motion, and transforming it into a static abstract object. Any future mutation that occurs after the conceptualisation of a movement would seem then disruptive, dramatic, or at best, confusing. Thus, concepts may not be the most adequate tools to the understanding of human movement and the configuration of "we(s)."

This paper will conclude with an attempt to find alternative ways of looking at human flows and mutable "we(s)."

Panel P061
Creolisation and conviviality