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Nightmare Egalitarianism: Scales and Imagination II 
Florian Mühlfried (Ilia State University Georgia)
Hans Steinmüller (London School of Economics)
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Natalia Buitron (University of Cambridge)
14 University Square (UQ), 01/007
Thursday 28 July, -
Time zone: Europe/London

Short Abstract:

This panel is about the nightmares that haunt egalitarianism: What are they? And how do they relate to the scales of the imagation?

Long Abstract:

Whereas anthropologists take great efforts to understand how "egalitarian societies" operate without centralized power and institutionalized means of coercion, they have paid less attention to the nightmares that haunt these societies. We'd like to explore these nightmares and the ways they relate to, or maybe even underpin political practices orientated towards an egalitarian treatment of people. Instead of foregrounding an ethos of "keeping up with the Joneses" based on sanctioning wealth and individual success, we take nightmares literally and ask for their role in egalitarian worldmaking. Nightmares can have (at least) three meanings in relation to egalitarianism:

• Violent nightmares help maintaining a productive dynamics of autonomy and mutuality and prohibit the emergence of commensuration and scaling

• The core of these nightmares is 'egalitarianism', as commonly understood: a dialectics of freedom and submission, which is a zero-sum game where the freedom of some relies on the submission of others

• These nightmares are thus the flip-side of an autonomous imagination: that cannot be tied into hierarchies and scales, and instead engages with them productively and moves beyond them.

We are interested in ethnographic and theoretical explorations of the affective and generative dimensions of "real existing egalitarianism". Contributions should explore visions of doom, relations of mistrust, gratuitous violence, or any imaginative practice that is directed against the emergence of the "cold monster of the state" (Clastres).

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Thursday 28 July, 2022, -