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Accepted Paper:

What is in the air?: from invisible spirits to atmospheric attunements [PANEL]  
Emadodin Mortazavi (McGill University)

Paper short abstract:

This essay is a philosophical gesture towards thinking about affects through the phenomenon of dust haze. Elaborating on the formal affinities of affects and dust haze, I investigate how affects work as visual apparatuses of capture and form particular modes of sensorium.

Paper long abstract:

In this essay, I take the phenomenon of dust-haze as a model that can shed light on the idea of "atmosphere," "affect," and possible forms of ethnographic attunement.

During my fieldwork in the southwest of Iran, I became interested in the occupation of the city by the dust-haze and people's encounter with it. The dust-haze has captured the face of the city and has claimed a new territory over all previous subjective and topographical objectifications of the city. The moment of encounter between the body of the people and the body of the city has turned into an "impersonal" arena. The dust-haze has fundamentally transformed the sensory experience of the citizens and their orientation in the day to day life.

Like affects, the dust-haze enfolds the local and challenges the detachment between inside and outside. By drawing a comparison between the dust haze and affect, I intend to reflect on the possible ways of thinking both materially about affect and material forces of affect.

In order to achieve this goal, I start from the traditional zār ritual in my field site, where people believed some "winds" are harmful and held wind-possession ceremonies, and I continue to new forms of capturing the affective force of weather through photography. At stake will be, on the one hand, the modes of ethnographic attunement with atmosphere, and on the other, the emergent forms of "impersonal" politics in this "in-between-ness."

Panel Body02
Affect and atmospheres in the ethnographic between [SIEF Working Group on Body, Affects, Senses, and Emotions (BASE)]
  Session 1 Wednesday 17 April, 2019, -