The panel engages critically with the processes of exotisation and self-exoticisation: how these inform anthropological theory and practice and how they shape the realities and identity of local communities in the periphery of economic power.
The panel examines the process of exoticisation and its many faces and contradictions. It explores tensions in the theory and practice of anthropology that revolve around the idealising trap of the exotic, the academic condemnation of popular exoticism, and its simultaneous reproduction in academic analysis. We look at the role of the exotic in colonial imagination and its consequences in post-colonial realities, the pursuit of the exotic as pure or authentic form and/or the celebration of the exotic in the hybrid. We also explore the process of self-exoticisation, paying careful attention to the transformative negotiation of local identities as these emerge in conversation with broader (colonial, post-colonial) visions of the exotic. Self-exoticisation involves an acknowledgment of the exotic in the familiar, a recognition that can inspire unpredictable and subversive cultural formulations. Our focus on exoticisation and self-exoticisation encourages a theoretical conversation that moves beyond the dualism of the exotic and the non-exotic, the West and the rest. Instead, we redirect analytic attention to how local agency and creativity shapes fluid, self-conscious exotic-identities in everyday life; and we seek to explore how local processes of self-exoticisation intersect with the expectation of the exotic in global imagination (and the inequalities or ambiguities that this expectation engenders). We welcome contributions that engage with exoticisation and self-exoticisation as processes that shape anthropology, culture, and social identities.