Shifting ontologies and contingent agencies
Paul Liffman (El Colegio de Michoacán)
Carlos Mondragon (El Colegio de México)
Martin Holbraad
Start time:
12 July, 2012 at 11:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

We examine how, in moments of radical doubt amid ongoing tensions between prescriptive but contradictory existential principles, creative acts generate new values and forms of agency. We therefore view ontology as a generative field of value production rather than an orderly set of propositions.

Long abstract:

We explore how moments of radical doubt provide insights into the emergent qualities of ontological values. We take ontology to be a shifting, historically contingent, open-ended and multidirectional relational matrix for identifying subjects, their agency, creativity, mutual relations, states of being and classes of experience which permits the sudden, simultaneous emergence of new values. Specifically, we examine the generative relationship between creative acts and contradictory ontological principles. What are the qualities of those clashing values during moments of doubt? If they are they articulated, how? What is the relationship between stable discursive genres and the creative contexts where actors cast ontological relations into doubt and sometimes reformulate them? Ethnographic examples of ritual, art and politics from Mesoamerica, Amazonia and Oceania will show how ontologies are the product of ongoing internal criticism in specific conjunctures.