Anthropology, infra-reflexivity, and postdramatic theatre
Aäron Moszowski Van Loon (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)
Paper short abstract:
By juxtaposing the development of reflexive anthropology and postdramatic theatre, the paper intends to shed a new light on a crucial episode in the history of contemporary anthropology. It will be made clear that anthropology and art are converging worlds.
Paper long abstract:
By juxtaposing the development of reflexive anthropology and postdramatic theatre, the paper intends to shed a new light on a crucial episode in the history of contemporary anthropology. At some moment in the twentieth century drama and theatre began to drift apart in the West. Drawing on the legacy of Antonin Artaud, Gertrude Stein and Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, one of Bronislaw Malinowski's childhood friends, theatre makers like Jan Fabre, Tadeusz Kantor and Robert Wilson rejected Aristotelian dramatic theatre and moved towards what the German critic Hans-Thies Lehmann proposed to call "postdramatic theatre". Their works are scenic poems that don't try to double anything and whose critical force doesn't depend on the direct thematisation of the political but on their mode of representation. With regard to anthropology, its recent history is marked by the advent of reflexive anthropology, whose evolution can be divided into three phases: the pre-postmodernist moment of the seventies that gave birth to a kind of benign introspection that was inable to challenge the traditional ideology of representation; the postmodernist moment of the eighties, dominated by the "Writing Culture" debate; and the post-postmodernist moment of the nineties, during which the focus was readjusted from narrative to experience and meta-reflexivity was displaced by what the French actor-network theorist Bruno Latour proposed to call "infra-reflexivity". By discussing some of the recent works of the Anglo-Saxon anthropologist Michael Taussig and the French choreographer Jérôme Bel, it will be made clear that anthropology and art are converging worlds.
Reimagining the self and the field in contemporary ethnography: insights from living and researching within and through borders