Querying the human/non-human divide and the ontological status of anthropology 
Akira Okazaki (Hitotsubashi University)
Multi Purpose Room
Start time:
16 May, 2014 at 17:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

This panel is concerned not only with the recent anthropological questions of anthropocentrism (culture-nature, human-animal, self-other, individual-dividual or nondualist ontologies) but also with the slightly awkward question about the ontological status of anthropological knowledge of the 'human'.

Long Abstract

If anthropocentrism was developed within the western epistemological history, it is not surprising that the message of anti-anthropocentrism is now disseminated mainly from the West. It is a kind of one-man show. Likewise, if the European Enlightenment successfully brought about a great change in 'our' ways of thinking about the world, it is not amazing that the IUAES conference is held in non-western countries. So it seems challenging to recover/fill the space/lacunae left by the 'Enlightened' side of anthropological knowledge. This panel attempts this by examining:

First; the possibility of applying Buddhist thought and Zenist Zeami's insight to the anthropological discussion of ontology/epistemology;

Second, the ontological notion of the 'shadow' among a Sudanese people compared with the 'man' who created his positivity in the human sciences as a project of the Enlightenment;

Third, ways of living in the plural world with non-human actors who participate in rituals among a Yunnan people of China;

Fourth, the possibility of reconstituting 'human' within the discourses of the Anthropocene by exploring the ways human existence hinges on the livelihoods of microbes though they are indifferent to human 'self'-interest.

In fact, anthropology has been recovering the invisible/shadow side of the human, rather than focusing into a conspicuously visible entity of the human. But our anthropological discursive tradition seems increasingly prone to turn to the Enlightenment project. This is why it is intriguing to reconsider, seriously and playfully, the ontological status of anthropology rather than the anthropology of ontologies.

Accepted papers: