EASA2016: Anthropological legacies and human futures
- Helene Risør (Universidad Católica de Chile/Copenhagen University) email
- Martin Holbraad (University College, London) email
This panel explores 'the radical' in contemporary Latin America; a relational term that may implicate a return to roots and origins, and/or a futuristic imposition of a new reality or transformation. We invite papers that engage in ethnographic description of what the radical might be.
This panel explores the legacy of 'the radical' in contemporary Latin America. Within the last decade the region has been characterized by profound transformations that have allowed for the emergence of new political categories and social groups. In this light, Latin America lending itself as an ethnographic laboratory for the study of intersectional sites and practices of social transformation that involve the production of radical alterity and radical subjectivities. Rather than thinking of an a priori definition of the radical, we consider it as a starting point of enquiry. We understand the radical as a relational term immanent to spatial and temporal social arrangements and realities, that may implicate both a return to roots and origins, evoking some kind of lost "tradition", and a futuristic imposition of a new reality or transformation (for example through revolution). In either case, the present is eclipsed and fade out of view or its relevance becomes magnified by enfolding the future into the present. While life is lived in present tense, it can be experienced as being "out of sync" with its time, either because forms of life appear as belonging to the past (i.e. indigenous life-forms within a modernist framework of the nation-state) or as being ahead of their time.
We invite papers that engage in ethnographic description and analysis of the production of radical alterity in Latin America, and particularly of the intersectional sites and forms of collaboration that enable its emergence.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
A radically self-different joint becoming: Yukpa modernity, ontological blindness and everyday interaction
The paper locates the radical in everyday interactions between the Carib-speaking Yukpa and non-Yukpa. Despite mutual ontological blindness selective communication and interaction is taking place with astonishing ease across cosmologies and reproducing radical differences in a shared single process.
Radical ontological difference is part of everyday interactions between Yukpa and non-Yupka and more generally as I will argue part of Latin American indigenous modernities. Interestingly, the differences between the cosmo-ontological conceptions are hardly perceived in the everyday interactions. The parties involved either assume mutual understanding or attribute irritations to the strangeness of the other rather without exploring the underlying differences and incommensurabilities everyday interactions are based on. Ontological blindness seems at work based on ontocentrisms that also become reproduced in anthropological writings.
Different ontologies that constitute different worlds do not imply that these worlds are irreconcilable worlds apart. On the contrary, communication and interaction may take place with astonishing ease across them and reproduce basic differences. The paper will focus on these processes by analyzing notions of space, time and humanity from interactions between the Yukpa, a Carib-speaking group of NE-Colombia and non-Yukpa. It will demonstrate the highly selective mutual perceptions, (mis-)understandings and ontological blindness that produce radically different conceptions of single processes. This joint 'single becoming that is not common to the two' but between them (Deleuze and Parnet 2002) allows communication across these worlds and mutual awareness of the other without fusing the one into the other. Joint becoming implies creolization as a two way process in which neither of the sides remain the same nor do they necessarily fuse into one. The radicality of everyday divergence leads to becoming an other without becoming the Other.
Invisible collaborations: witchcraft and the generative space in Afro-Cuban religions
This paper deals with a "collaborative" language (witchcraft) that jostles between three Afro-Cuban religious domains, producing controversies and tensions in their interstices, but ultimately power, religious subjectivity, and cosmology.
This paper will explore three distinctly developed yet internally articulated religious domains of "African" inspiration in Cuba: Espiritismo, Palo Monte, and Santería. Practitioners move between them, availing themselves of the ritual know-how and perspectives of the spirits or gods that speak through each. The interstices between these "religions", however, negotiated as they are by experts, produce controversies, tensions and moral judgments that fuel (and are fuelled by) more radical changes of register. One of these is witchcraft. As the "collaborative" language between the "corners" of such practices, witchcraft both refracts and expands all manner of anxieties, often occulted, bringing together actors in space-times often without full complicity or knowledge. It is not simply a derivative of the spontaneity of relational practices in and between domains, but inherently shapes them. This means, among other things, that subjects (sorcerers and victims) experience a radical "othering" of themselves, both in terms of space-time and self-constitution; this, I argue, produces cosmology.
The radical in Argentina: Slum dwellers' representations and actions
We shall seek to empirically and theoretically determine the idea of “radical” from an ethnography carried out within slums (villas miserias) in Buenos Aires and its periphery, and more precisely from a description and analysis of slum dwellers’ representations and actions.
Theoretically or philosophically, concepts tend to put forward universal definitions, to show the essential and necessary characters of things, and to overlook the particular, the accidental and contingencies. Should the concept of "radical" as any concept espouse these properties?
However, concepts that are solely defined in this way are abstract and indeterminate. They remain partial, poor and simplistic. Accordingly, should the concept of "radical" be determined or made concrete by the exploration of empirical cases?
For instance, what does it mean in Argentina? What are the collective representations and actions in this context that refer to this concept? What is the link with "radicality" in contemporary Latin America in general?
Drawing on an ethnography carried out within slums (villas miserias) in Buenos Aires and its periphery, this paper aims to empirically and theoretically determine the idea of "radical". It will show that, at the ideational level, "radicality" appears as a syncretism between an idealised past (a golden age) and a future reinvented by revolution, which necessarily determine the present, slum dwellers' existence.
Concretely, tutoring centres (centros de apoyo escolar) are one of the main centres of the manifestation of "the radical" in porteños slums. Alongside popular education influenced by different and sometimes converse pedagogical doctrines (liberal, Freirean) and provided for children in order to complement a lacunar public school system, they are one of the core places of slum dwellers' socio-political gatherings. Collective representations and actions are nurtured by diverse leftist political ideologies (Peronism, socialism, communism, Castroism, Bolivarism, Chavezism).
Rural Mapuche women and the state at home: radical collaborations and the other as destiny
This paper explores the ways in which a group of Mapuche women establish “odd” collaborations with the Chilean state, deepening in the radicalism that is present in the forging of their subjectivities and in the challenges they set to current developments on Mapuche personhood.
After two decades of a strong multicultural emphasis in the social policies oriented to indigenous population, the Chilean State's objectives towards indigenous people remain far from unambiguous, in a context of increasing implementation of ad-hoc programs and benefits which are articulated with policies principally tackling poverty. By deepening in the relations that a group of rural Mapuche women establish with State institutions and professionals during early motherhood -mainly with health and pre-school services, but also with poverty plans including cash transfers- this paper focuses on the multidimensional ways in which these women establish "odd" collaborations with the Chilean state, deepening in the radicalism that is present in the everyday forging of their subjectivities.
Anchored in but also questioning their self-identification with "poor-Mapuche", women, mothers, rural people and citizens, I suggest that in their experimentation through collaboration and friction these women negotiate with the neoliberal State assuming a pragmatic, perceptive and movable attitude that is constitutive of these women's subjectivities. I discuss the ways in which these collaborations suppose challenges and also continuities with what Boccara has described as an openness to incorporate the Other in the dynamic construction of the One-self among Mapuche in which "the other does not appear as a limit but as a destiny" (Boccara 2003:35); as well as to the centrifugal principle of creation of social relations that is considered a fundamental capacity of Mapuche personhood (Course 2010).
Radical relations in times of conflict?: non-mapuche approaches to indigenous realities and the question of interculturality in contemporary Chile
The paper analyzes relations among non-indigenous people and institutions with indigenous people in the context of the so-called Mapuche conflict in Chile. The paper asks what possibilities of life and social transformation are offered by engaging in the interstices in the context of a conflict?
The paper analyzes relations among non-indigenous people and institutions with indigenous people in the context of the so-called Mapuche conflict in Chile. The ethnography follows non-mapuche collaborators in Mapuche organizations in Santiago, and the implementation of the PACI, an intercultural community police force among indigenous communities in Southern Chile. The analysis suggests that the conflict both reaffirms notions of radical alterity and opens up for introspection concerning nationhood, history and the state among those involved in relations across difference. Following Tsing's (2006) notion of collaboration as a practice that does not necessarily entail sharing a common goal the paper offers a critical discussion of the notion of interculturality. It asks what possibilities of life and social transformation are offered by engaging in the interstices in the context of a conflict?
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.