EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

(W035)

Joining phenomenologies and political economies of 'the Global'

Location JHT6
Date and Start Time 26 Aug, 2010 at 11:30

Convenors

Patrick Neveling (SOAS, University of London) email
Valerio Simoni (The Graduate Institute, Geneva) email
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Long Abstract

In recent years, several concepts have emerged that aim to reconsider notions of "the global". Burawoy's "global ethnography" establishes a methodology to cover the global's experience and production. Tsing's effort to capture the "global situation" calls for theoretical approaches covering the global both in its spatialised political and economic and in its imaginary and constructed dimen-sions. Thus, our discipline has come to understand "local" social phenomena in terms of entangled hierarchies of economic and power inequalities and dis-ciplinary regimes of citizenship. However, few studies have attempted to de-velop a theoretically-informed perspective that reveals the ways in which such inequalities are successfully recreated and requalified.

This panel invites contributions that aim to close this gap between advanced methodological approaches and less sophisticated theoretical approaches and seeks to understand the experience and production of presumably universal value regimes or presumably universal economic regimes from the perspec-tives of phenomenology and political economy.

Discussant: Stephen Reyna (University of Manchester)

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Creating other options: negotiating Israeli nationality through imagined mobility

Author: Noa Leuchter (Ben-Gurion University)  email
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Long Abstract

My research examines Israeli citizens' applications for a second citizenship from countries belonging to the EU. These applications for ‘European Passports’, which have become increasingly common and widely desired in recent years, are made by persons who do not intend to leave Israel. Therefore, they don’t simply fall under terms such as 'Mobility' or 'Immigration'. However, they do create the opportunity for these, and thereby offer an interesting perspective on what may be referred to as 'imagined mobility'.

In this paper, I will explore the meanings of this ‘imagined mobility’. As I will show, by creating an ability to leave, or rather, a possibility not to stay, these citizenships represent an active reexamination of Israeli citizenship and national identity. This shifting perception of what it means to be ‘Israeli’, reflects a change in historical and political understandings of both Israel and Europe, further complicating their role within the Israeli national narrative of salvation.

Ethical modalities of being and humans rights discourse in Yap, FSM

Author: Jason Throop (UCLA)  email
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Long Abstract

In this paper I seek to interrogate from a phenomenological and ethnographic perspective discourses of human rights as articulated and experienced in Yap, Federated States of Micronesia. Tacking back and forth between an existentialist orientation to ethics as explored in the writings of Emanuel Levinas and the experience of moral life in contemporary Yapese communities, I will attempt to provide an experientially grounded account of how so called "global" discourses of human rights are at times taken up, contested, and transformed in the concrete everyday worlds of Yapese social actors. In particular, I am interested in thinking through how the notion of inalienable rights, which are often discursively constituted in terms of entity-like, present-at-hand, attributes that people possess, are positioned in relation to everyday moral experience in Yap. Traditionally, such ethical modalities of being were primarily understood to be dynamic and dispositional sensibilities that were always embedded in, and defined by, an individual's concrete interpersonal relations, responsibilities, and activities.

Agrarian tolerance in Eastern Europe: community, market, and politics under global crisis

Author: Juraj Buzalka (FSES Comenius University)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper investigates patterns of coexistence in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) I call agrarian tolerance. Despite modernisation attempts, state socialism reproduced and even strengthened the role of kinship, community and religion that remained influence post-socialist "great transformation". Agrarian tolerance today is manifested in the activities of those ordinary people who resist radicalization and employ actions that are 'embedded' within community, religion and kinship. Inspired by Gudeman´s approach to economy, I suggest to analyse patterns of tolerance as an interplay of community, market and global politics against the background of present-day crisis. Such analysis can reveal one path that renders earlier practices of tolerance vulnerable to populism and neo-fascism whereas another creates the basis for genuine socially sensitive agrarian tolerance. The combined perspective of political economy and phenomenology is crucial to understand macro- and micro-scale changes of coexistence and conflict that strengthen and/or oppose radical politics in CEE.

Globalising relational idioms and the trials of inequality: Friendships in touristic Cuba

Author: Valerio Simoni (The Graduate Institute, Geneva)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper considers how in the context of touristic encounters in Cuba the relational idioms of friendship are brought about and challenged by ubiquitous manifestations of inequality. On the one hand, tourists and Cubans strive to frame their relationships as friendship, relying both on verbal declarations and on pragmatic reassurances. On the other hand, their enactments of friendship are repeatedly challenged by indications of inequality. These continuous trials prompt people to re-qualify their relationships, and in turn generate various ways of silencing, composing with, or highlighting asymmetries. Moving from the particular to the universal, tourists and Cubans reposition their relationships in wider contexts by mobilizing political economic and socio-cultural rationales as explanatory devices. What emerges are different 'globalist' approaches to these relationships that bring into effect notions of homo economicus, of converging cultures of sociality and their universal features, and of the wider geopolitical context of inequality that informs them.

Mobility as crisis: the political economy of migration and the phenomenology of movement

Author: Thomas Widlok (University of Cologne)  email
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Long Abstract

The need to join phenomenological and political economy approaches emerges in a variety of contexts. One of these contexts, the teaching of anthropology of mobility courses, is the starting point of this contribution. In this situation "mobility" is understood by students and by neighbouring disciplines primarily in terms of the current political economy of global migration while anthropological theory has made particular advances with regard to the phenomenology of subjective movement. In this paper I lay out some of the principle ways of understanding human agency and decision making underlying these two perspectives and I seek to outline to what extent the two can be productively merged and where they remain incompatible. The ethnographic examples considered are taken from the hunter-gatherer ethnography and from the situation of "academic nomads" in higher education (as part of what is now called the precariat).

Some remarks on the scalar structurations of capitalism and the anthropology of the twentieth century global system

Author: Patrick Neveling (SOAS, University of London)  email
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Long Abstract

The paper is based on fieldwork research on the Indian Ocean island Mauritius during an economic crisis in the early 21st century and archival research on the early neoliberal restructuring of the global economy after World War II. It is argued that core concepts of anthropology such as culture and reciprocity are better understood as inherent features of capitalism arising from within this economic system's contradictory nature, than as alternative arenas inhibiting resistance and opposition. The concept of scale, which I introduce, is informed by Tsing's call to analyse the era of globalisation as a prolongation of evolutionist modernisation. The talk will show that it provides a useful tool to unite the analysis of capitalism's political economic and phenomenological structure.

Global beauty: attractiveness as a form of value in capitalist peripheries

Author: Alexander Edmonds (University of Edinburgh)  email
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Long Abstract

Drawing on fieldwork in Brazil, as well as examples from other developing nations, this paper analyzes the global circulation and consumption of beauty industries. Much scholarship on beauty has viewed it as a domain that mirrors other social inequalities. For example, cosmetic practices have been analyzed as a means for the social control of women in the West, or else as a reflection of larger color hierarchies. Such approaches have neglected how female beauty can become a sign of the modern -- whether seen as a threat or lure -- in capitalist peripheries. Seeking to understand the local significance of female beauty in relation to the larger psycho-social transformations of consumer capitalism, this paper considers both how attractiveness acquires value within symbolic and material economies as well as what beauty means and does for social actors in different market positions.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.