Accepted Paper:

Dreaming, madness and the human sciences: a prehistory of anthropology  


Akira Okazaki (Hitotsubashi University)

Paper short abstract:

Early Foucault wrote for dream, madness and against the human sciences that created the positivity of 'man'. With his post-humanist questions and the ontological notion of the 'shadow' derived from my ethnographic study, I discuss how our anthropological discursive tradition was inevitably born.

Paper long abstract:

Among the Gamk people, living in the precarious borderland between Sudan and South Sudan, dreaming is the experience of events in the shadow (kuuth) side of this world, and it is not only a personal but social experience; a vital means of understanding elusive world events. Oddly enough, the Gamk term for 'dreams' also denotes a group of clowns or follies.

In Europe, the devaluation of dreams came about simultaneously as madness was being expelled from the society around the middle of the seventeenth century, and a new crystal-clear concept of reason brought about a great change in the European world, as illustrated by Foucault.

Sooner or later, the ontological status of dreams changed through invagination. It was no longer seen as being given by the external divine but belonging to, even generated by, the 'divinised' self. This followed by other divisions such as real world/illusory world, public/private and objective/subjective. It seems unlikely that, before such divisions were established, one could ask properly such a human scientific question as how 'history' and 'society' shape individual human minds or how 'history' and 'society' are shaped by human invention.

Foucault, then, argues, 'psychoanalysis and ethnology are rather 'counter-sciences' because they 'dissolve' man by perpetually exposing his own unconscious and historicity and ceaselessly 'unmake' that very man who creates and re-creates his positivity in the human sciences. I then discuss how our anthropological discursive tradition emerged to save our 'shadow' from the regime of positivity.

Panel P139
Querying the human/non-human divide and the ontological status of anthropology