Notions of Failure in Art and Anthropology 
Alana Jelinek (University of Hertfordshire)
Jennifer Clarke
Jennifer Clarke (Gray's School of Art, Robert Gordon University)
Anthony Schrag (Queen Margaret University )
SOAS Senate House - S113
Sunday 3 June, 13:30-15:00 (UTC+0)

Short Abstract:

Inter-disciplinary work is fraught misunderstandings. Assumptions are made about common values and common language, that each shares a vocabulary, or goal. This panel examines discipline-specific notions of failure and reflect on failure as one of the outcomes of inter-disciplinary work.

Long Abstract

Contemporary artists engage with ethnography as method and anthropology as theory in a variety of ways: Some short and superficial, others in-depth and critically engaged. Sometimes, projects fail in artistic terms. Inter-disciplinary work is fraught with misunderstandings. Assumptions are often made about common values and language, that each shares a vocabulary. This panel examines discipline-specific notions of failure and reflects on failure as one of the outcomes of inter-disciplinary work between art and anthropology.

In 1976, Historian of Science, Hugh G. Petrie argued of inter-disciplinary work in science, that because so much of it fails to recognise the significant differences in cognitive maps between the disciplines, much of it is relatively naïve. To pursue excellence in inter-disciplinary work, he argues for minimal constituents: 'First one must learn the observational categories of the other discipline, and second, one must learn the meanings of the key terms in the other discipline.'

This panel addresses specifically the differences in ideas of failure across art and anthropology. Framed through practice, this panel invites both practitioners of any discipline and anthropologists working with practitioners to reflect on notions of failure, either in the abstract, or to reflect on instances of failure of specific projects between art and anthropology.

What is failure to the artist, and to the anthropologist? What value does failure have, and how is this value manifested in the two disciplines? Are there instances of inter- or multi-disciplinary work across art and anthropology that instantiate differences in understanding, failures to recognise the different 'cognitive maps', including differences in the understanding of failure?

Accepted papers: