P092
Destiny, fate, predestination: ethnographies of changing forms of political and intimate life

Convenors:
Alice Elliot (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Laura Menin (University of Milano Bicocca)
Discussant:
Martin Fotta (Goethe-Universität)
Stream:
Panels
Location:
M-213
Start time:
2 August, 2014 at 9:00
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

What qualities, efficacies and affordances are accorded to destiny, in a world marked by increasing imaginative possibilities and uncertain futures? The panel traces ethnographic conceptions of 'destiny', 'fate', and 'predestination' in contemporary forms of political and intimate life.

Long abstract:

Notions of 'destiny', along with their complex relations with ideas of personal agency and freedom, are pervasive in people's everyday lives and existential quests in many ethnographic settings, as well as being at the core of numerous theological traditions. Yet, anthropology has often left the concept of destiny as the hazy background for its ethnographic and theoretical discussions. This panel aims to reconstitute destiny as ethnographic object in its own right, unpacking the fundamental role it plays in political and intimate transformations in a world of increasing imaginative possibilities and uncertain futures. What qualities and efficacies are accorded to destiny, both in mundane routines and historical upheavals? How is destiny related to conceptions of 'chance' and 'luck'? How are political and personal transformations, desires, and life-trajectories imagined and actualised when transcendent and immanent forces mingle with human agency? These questions forcefully arise at a historical moment marked by increasingly restrictive migration policies, severe economic crisis, revolutions and political unrest, when the contrast between attempts to effect change and the experience of being part of a chain of events beyond one's power, becomes acutely poignant. Attending to ethnographic specificities and ambivalences, the panel aims to redraw destiny's salience in contemporary forms of political and intimate life, developing novel avenues for its ethnographic theorisation. We welcome ethnographic contributions tracing different conceptions and affordances accorded to destiny in different social contexts and religious traditions, particularly at significant focal events (marriage, migration, illness) and historical conjunctures (financial crisis, political turmoil).