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Aspiration, Unrealised: Anthropological perspectives on reaching for that which cannot be grasped 
Raluca Bianca Roman (Queen's University Belfast)
Alex Archer (University of Cambridge)
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Mathematics & Physics Teaching Centre (MAPTC), 0G/017
Friday 29 July, -
Time zone: Europe/London

Short Abstract:

This panel invites ethnographic and theoretical contributions concerning the aspirational striving for that which cannot be realised. The aim is to understand the everyday experience of living in the shadow of hopes that go unachieved and the social consequences this effects.

Long Abstract:

The definition of 'aspiration' is 'the hope or ambition of achieving something'. To aspire, to hope, to want is common to people across social, geographic, and historical settings. But what of the failure to realise an aspiration? The experience of not quite succeeding, of not entirely living up to, of being less than one might perhaps wish, is similarly common. A failure to realise an aspiration should not simply be regarded as the opposite of its achievement, but as complementary to it: each may be seen, in fact, to derive its character and force from the other and to gain greater meaning from their interaction. In this panel, we explore that human experience of hopeful striving and the everyday reality of living with aspirations that go unrealised. We invite papers that examine ethnographically the nonachievement of aspiration and the sociality that ensues, from across any range of social-cultural contexts. How might we, for example, engage with situations in which people strive for that which cannot be reached, yet those aspirations nevertheless provide motivational force? What kinds of insights may be drawn from the interaction between such hopeful imagining and its everyday frustration? What is it to live in the shadow of unrealised hope and how might it be described ethnographically? The aim is that this panel will provide a forum to consider the experience of reaching for that which cannot be grasped and the wider theoretical and ethnographic implications in the study of unmet aspirations.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -