Uneasiness, urge, participation: smelly, loud and altogether visceral stories of the home
Gabriella Szigethy (ELTE University, Budapest)
Paper short abstract:
This paper addresses the issues which a scholar faces when caught up in a network of uneasy obsessions of a socio-spatial nature, where personal stories mix with academic obligations. The work of Alfred Gell, Jacques Ranciere and a Hungarian novelist, Noé Tibor Kiss are invited to help.
Paper long abstract:
As a woman of white, urban, middle-class background whose main profession has been to lecture in higher-education in most of her adult life I moved to one of the most complicated and poorest districts in my hometown of Budapest five years ago. The incentive was already at the time of a mostly economic nature. What I have noticed is that my life has become an endless naive anthropological fieldwork; I call it naive because my academic toolkit comes from art-history, aesthetics and cultural criticism. While I have been conducting my researches into the Neobaroque recolonialization of the public space in the neighbourhood through state-funded art projects I also have become gravely immersed in my cultural, linguistic and social ambience to a dangerous degree: glass shards falling, overheated lard in pans, uncanny substances all over the place. To battle this continuing affective absorption I have started to do unpaid activist work in a number of civil groups in my neighbourhood. My activist work has become my essential source for teaching cultural criticism, and teaching has become my way of doing activism. In this paper I wish to address the checks and balances I have introduced into this fieldwork of a life to maintain a secure dwelling inside academia, and, at the same time, to build and promote active solidarity with fellow citizens. I shall do so with the help of the novel of a young Hungarian author Noé Tibor Kiss, Aludnod kellene [You Should be Sleeping By Now].
Experimenting with methods in critical affective research