Accepted Paper:

Gleaning for Rhythm: Routine and Rupture in Volatile Lifeworlds  
Sandro Simon (University of Cologne)

Paper short abstract:

This contribution multimodally inquires mollusc gleaning, a sensory and emplaced practice, in the Sine-Saloum Delta, Senegal and how gleaners bring together attention and routinized skill, engagement and omission as well as plan and situated action to co-constitute rhythmicity amidst volatility.

Paper long abstract:

Life in the Sine-Saloum Delta is all about moving within movement (cf. Vigh 2009). Mollusc gleaners embrace the so called Mbissa, a recurring period of around ten days when low tides occur between the not-too-early morning and the not-too-late afternoon. The Mbissa sets the pace for the gleaners’ mobility and social relations, yet every Mbissa has breaks, ruptures, expansions and contractions, relating among others to feasts, individual needs or changing weather. The Mbissa is thus a malleable, multistranded rhythm that relates to tides, molluscs, spirits and human individual and communal actions.

As the organization of gleaning, also the practice itself relies on the intricate relation between routine and rupture: Between high- and low tide, gleaners have very different experiences in terms of gravity, wetness etc., with the wind, sun, soil and water all playing their part. And so, while working continuously, they at the same time have to be attentive to their own body and to the changing circumstances. Furthermore, their gleaning is never ‘complete’ or ‘perfect’, because there are always molluscs that slip, or stay out there to be eventually found another day.

By the means of words, image and sound, this contribution seeks to trace the ‘attentionality’ (Ingold 2016) of mollusc gleaners, which entwines attention and routinized skill and bridges engagement and omission as well as plan and situated action amidst volatility. Thereby, it also asks how to multimodally inquire and represent layered/multi-rhythmicity as well as action and pause beyond linearity.

Panel P22
Rhythm, sight and sound: work in times of uncertainty
  Session 1