Rel01
The social formation of wonder

Convenors:
Jaap Timmer (Macquarie University)
Matt Tomlinson (CHL/CAP, Australian Natl Uni)
Chair:
Jaap Timmer and Matt Tomlinson
Discussant:
Michael W. Scott
Stream:
Religiosities
Location:
Old Quad-G17 (Cussonia Court Room 1)
Start time:
2 December, 2015 at 11:00
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

This panel focuses on political and religious projects wherein wonder becomes central. What happens when a futurist's wonder evokes a process of institutionalisation and traditionalisation and the wondrous new world enters into worlds of existing institutions and current values?

Long abstract:

If "wonder" is understood as the experience of radical alterity, then wonder's relationship to hope, risk, and the ethical becomes central to many key anthropological concerns: the depth of sociocultural difference, the betrayals of translation, the nature of fieldwork. This panel focuses on political and religious projects in which wonder (articulated with hope, risk, and ethical concerns) becomes central. While there is much literature on prophets and futurists in religion and politics, wonder has often been treated paradoxically as both integral and ungraspable (for example, the classic literature on charisma and its routinisation both depended on a concept of wonder and sidelined it). Little attention has been paid to how the production and proclamation of new doctrines, renewals of religion and national spirit, divine commandments and political monologues, or visions about a wondrous new world work as strategies for constructing, authorising, and maintaining social formation. What happens when the futurist's wonder evokes a process of institutionalisation and traditionalisation and the proclaimed wondrous new world enters into worlds of existing institutions and current values? Any investigation of this dynamic should, we think, start with exploring the wondrous worlds produced by the futurist and prophets and explore why and how that wonder appeals to others. As a touchstone for our discussion, we ask contributors to this session to engage with Michael W. Scott's chapter in Framing Cosmologies (edited by Abramson and Holbraad, 2014) on wonder and how it leads to ontological transformations among the Arosi of Solomon Islands.