This workshop will explore where anthropology has reached with respect to the self evident power of imaginative contents in times of crisis and changing human identities. We invite papers that, based on empirical study, address the complex relationship between imagination and enactment.
The imagination in day and night dreaming holds and often generates critical change in times of personal and collective crisis. This well of potentialities so emblematic of human inventiveness has held very different ontological statuses within and between cultures. In the west typically it is the doorway to the unconscious, a term redolent of imprecision and ignorance. Dreaming, then, is conceived as an activity of an isolated mind, while creativity is viewed as the outcome of individual genius or psychic and social disintegration. In contrast, in shamanic and many religious cultures the imagination is variously the portal to the spirit world, the worlds of myth and ancestors even to the heavens and hells of the Abrahamic religions, as in the Sufi concept of the Alam al-Mithal. But, whatever their ontological status and social consequences, night and day dreaming constitute a universe where alternative connections between places, persons and times are revealed and generated. This workshop intends to explore where anthropology has reached with respect to the self evident power of imaginative contents in times of crisis and changing human identities, whether individual or collective. We invite papers that, based on empirical study, address the complex relationship between imagination and enactment, as well as the constraints and supportive elements that direct this relation. We also welcome papers with a methodological objective, reflecting on the problematics of studying the imagination outside of the only case study available, the imagining agent themselves!