W095
Waiting for Godot & Co: modes and moods of the uneventful

Convenors:
Michael Stasik (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity)
Gabriel Klaeger (Goethe University Frankfurt)
Discussant:
Kurt Beck (University of Bayreuth)
Location:
V406
Start time:
12 July, 2012 at 11:30
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

Everyday life is characterized by recurring states of uneventfulness and inactivity. In this workshop, we seek to explore these allegedly trivial times of waiting, and the possible modes and moods by which they are filled and experienced.

Long abstract:

Anthropology, its neighbouring disciplines as well as the media have the tendency to describe human and social life as full of action, busyness, events and incidents. People are always depicted as doing something, things are always occurring - be it in the contexts of crisis and conflict, consumption and production, appropriation and creativity, migration and mobility, or religion and ritual. Contrary to these perspectives, the everyday life of many is characterized by recurring states of uneventfulness and inactivity. In fact, rather than being involved in activities and events, and in actively struggling to cope with changing situations, much time is spent waiting for events to occur and for situations to change. These waiting periods permeate all spheres of everyday life around the globe; including the spheres of labour and trade (waiting for employment, goods, costumers), travel and transport (waiting for the bus to depart/arrive/be repaired), media and technology (waiting for connectivity, electricity, novelties), ritual and performance (waiting for the event to commence/proceed/end), and metaphysics (waiting for faith cure, redemption, theophany). In this workshop, we seek to explore these allegedly trivial times of waiting, idleness and inactivity. In particular, we invite contributions that provide ethnographic insights into situations and experiences of the uneventful, and into possible modes - and moods - by which people fill these waiting periods (e.g., im/patience, boredom, amusement, frustration, conversation, compliance). Furthermore, we want to raise the question whether there is a tendency in current anthropological studies to focus on the exceptional and to neglect the ordinary and unexceptional.