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Accepted Paper:

Chaos and Connective Patterning: A Speculative Ethnography of Irish Traveller Counterfactuality  
Anthony Howarth (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

As with life itself, fieldwork and subsequent ethnography are each in their own way processes of imposing order on chaos. But what role does counterfactuality play in patterning chaos? This paper explores the counterfactuality of Irish Travellers as a means for them to pattern social relationships.

Paper long abstract:

As with life itself, fieldwork and subsequent ethnography are each in their own way processes of imposing order on chaos. But what if this order is reversed? If chaos is the void out of which order springs, then does it follow that anthropology and life itself must begin with chaos? And what role does counterfactuality play in patterning chaos? This paper tentatively explores the counterfactual narratives of Irish Travellers as a means for them to connect with and pattern relationships within their life-worlds.

More broadly, the paper suggests the legacy of structuralism, functionalism, and other allied paradigms continue to haunt anthropological conventions and ethnographic accounts, despite the turn to indeterminacy, uncertainty, and contingency. As an experiment in speculative ethnography and counterfactuality, the paper takes the chaotic messiness and inconsistency of life seriously suggesting that the connecting patterns of life are as rife with might yet be/maybe not visions as they are with order and instrumental action.

Panel P46
Looking forward, counterfactually: Visions of the might yet be/maybe not of marginalised people and their states
  Session 1 Thursday 9 June, 2022, -