Accepted Paper:

The crisis of crisis: ethnographic explorations of a failed concept  

Author:

Nikolas Kosmatopoulos (American University of Beirut)

Paper short abstract:

The paper will explore some epistemological and technocratic uses (and abuses) of the concept of crisis by sketching a virtual, investigative tour in a multiplicity of fields and sites. Finally, the paper will argue for the abandonment of the concept altogether.

Paper long abstract:

The paper will explore some epistemological and technocratic uses (and abuses) of the concept of crisis by sketching a virtual, investigative tour in a multiplicity of fields and sites. Starting off with the insertion of the failure of crisis as an analytical concept in recent ethnographic accounts, the paper will ask why and how "crisis works" in other domains of academic production and in selected fields of international action. Based on ethnographic research among global experts of peace making and crisis prevention in the Middle East, but also on critical inquiry in various neighboring fields of international action, such as natural disaster management and prediction of violent outbursts, the paper will analyze how the concept operates today as a catch-all phrase that seeks to define our common humanity in particular ways. This operation generates detrimental effects on populations and spaces, enables unequal and exclusionary forms of knowledge and power and disables critique. Faced with the paradox of the ubiquity of crisis amidst constant failure to advance critique, the paper will argue for the abandonment of the concept altogether.

Panel P012
Crisis as ongoing reality: perspectives from different anthropological locations (European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) and the Committee for World Anthropologies (CWA) panel)