In what ways is belonging negotiated along material lines? This panel will explore the fleshy, embodied and sensorial ways that communities are imagined and perceived across various geographic and socio-historic contexts.
In his seminal piece on nationalism, Benedict Anderson traces the social construction of "the nation" to which a group of people are imagined to belong, especially highlighting the role of the media in projecting such images. Over the past few decades, the concept of imagined communities has proven fertile thinking ground for modeling the ways that, as opposed to static, self-evident units of social analysis, groups emerge in "relational, processual, dynamic, eventful and disaggregated terms" (Brubaker 2006: 11). In what ways might such collectivity formation take place through material processes? This panel explores the fleshy, embodied and sensorial ways that communities are imagined and perceived (inextricable processes in the Kantian sense) across various geographic and socio-historic contexts. What exactly is gained by fore-fronting material culture in analyzing the ways in which community formation is envisioned? What claims to authority, to same-ness and difference does attention to processes of materialization afford? This panel will focus on collectivity-making that occurs through processes of object- and place-making. Such embodied and emplaced practices - ritualized or otherwise - are envisaged to bind groups of people together just as they delineate borders of exclusion. The manifold and mundane ways such group delineation occurs underscores the consistent work that it takes to secure conceptual stability, be it based on nation, ethnicity, religion or species.