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Reframing intentional action: a linguistic anthropological approach [Linguistic Anthropology Network (ELAN)] 
Yazan Doughan (London School of Economics (LSE))
Chelsie Yount-André (University of Leiden)
Anna Weichselbraun (University of Vienna)
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Jack Sidnell (University of Toronto)
Friday 26 July, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Madrid
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Short Abstract:

This panel aims to reframe anthropological debates around intentions and intentional action away from psychological notions of 'mind' and mental states by focusing on how intentions are encoded in language structure and use.

Long Abstract:

Long discredited as a product of Enlightenment thought and Western language ideologies (e.g. Rosaldo 1982; commenting on Searle 1969), ‘intentions’ are back at the centre of linguistic, and broader, anthropological debates. Recently, some anthropologists have taken interest in claims of “mental opacity” which are said to exist in South Pacific and other cultures (Robbins 2004; Throop 2010; Stasch 2009; Duranti 2014; 1988). Others, by contrast, have insisted that inferences about other people’s minds are central to all human action and inter-action (Keane 2016; drawing on Grice 1991). The papers of this panel share an interest in questions of intentions and intentional action but seek to reframe the discussion away from notions of mind and mental states (which is a necessarily speculative endeavour) to how actions are described and variably indexed, and thus how intentions are encoded in language structure and use. Taking our cue from Elizabeth Anscombe’s seminal work on intentions (Anscombe [1957] 2000), and its uptake in anthropology (Enfield and Sidnell 2017), as well as earlier anthropological studies of the encoding of action in language (Goldman 1993), the participants in this panel ask: How might an understanding of intentions as socially and linguistically produced allow a reformulation of anthropological literature on (mis)trust? How do moral expectations and demands inform justifications for actions and the framing of intentions? What implications do frames of social accountability have on agents’ own self-understanding and, hence, rationality? How do semiotic ideologies of human actions and intentions inform folk theorizations of non-human agents?

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Friday 26 July, 2024, -
Session 2 Friday 26 July, 2024, -