Evolving humanity, emerging worlds
Manchester, UK; 5th-10th August 2013
Aesthetics of development: art, anthropogy and spiritual transformations of self and society
Location University Place 4.205
Date and Start Time 08 Aug, 2013 at 09:00
The panel explores aesthetic issues in development and the challenges of spiritual transformations of self and society.
The discourse and practice of human development is at a cross-road now. For quite some time, critics and reflective practitioners in the field of development have raised ethical and moral issues in the vision and practice of development such as poverty, hunger, displacement and production of underdevelopment by the very interventionist process and logic of development. This has led to the rise of vibrant critical development ethics to which many practitioners of anthropology of development have contributed. But ethics of development has seldom addressed aesthetic issues of and in human development and the interlinked processes of spiritual transformations of self, culture and society. In our panel, we address these issues and nurture development aesthetics as an emergent field of discourse, practice, cross-cultural conversations cutting across insights from East and West such as Kant and Sri Aurobindo, research endeavors, self-realizations and social transformations. In our session, we bring cutting-edge research in such fields as anthropology of development, anthropology of art, philosophical anthropology, critical anthropology of religion and spiritual transformations together in mutual and transformative conversations and dialogues.
Chair: John Clammer
Discussant: John Clammer
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Aesthetics of Development and Spiritual Freedom: Learning wtih Sri Aurobindo
In Sri Aurobindo's opinion the aesthetics of development and spiritual freedom are interrelated, spiritual freedom is an eternal aspect of the human spirit, which is attained as we ascend beyond the regions of mind.
Aesthetics is the science or study of the beautiful. There is a basic and cardinal difference between Aurobindo's ideas on aesthetics and the term as it is understood conventionally. In an integral perspective the aim of aesthetics is to bring about a transformation in the inner consciousness and outer life of human beings. According to Aurobindo, all arts are parts of the ascent of man, towards the bliss of pure Being; the intense clarity of consciousness which is the lasting value of Aurobindo. The main principle of aesthetic discipline is to replace the less beautiful and harmonious by the more beautiful and harmonious in the inner consciousness as well as in every activity of the outer life.
Art is the medium through which man fulfills his secret urge to translate into the reality of our being, that image of perfection. Aurobindo's plea for rising has been aesthesis to a level of consciousness, i.e. as we ascend beyond the regions of Mind, everything alters. The evolution of human being in regard to the development takes into account the sense of freedom that emerges along with the development of self consciousness. Evolution as conceived by Aurobindo is a great adventure of consciousness in which operation of free will is a necessary component. The higher evolution is described as a dual movement; inward, away from the surface consciousness and into the depths, culminating in the realization of the Psychic Being, and then upward to higher levels of spiritual mind. Whereas these higher levels of consciousness have been attained in particular individuals, they must eventually emerge more universally as general stages in the evolution.
The paper explores Aurobindo's perspective of aesthetic development as associated with higher truth of spiritual thought, spiritual feeling and spiritual sense, including those which relate to spiritual freedom.
Alpana, the folk-art of Bengal : its structure and change - a sociocultural anthropological focus
Alpana, a form of loka shilpa (folk art) of the age-old folk culture of West Bengal, depicts the ecological, socio-cultural norms and values of the Bengali core. This domestic art of numerous symbolic motifs, is generally drawn on floor or wall with atap or alo ( unboiled) rice paste for rituals, is presently losing its elements due to modernization.
Sociocultural anthropologists view art as one of the important elements of expressive culture. It may discover much about different worldviews and religious beliefs, social norms and values, kinship structures, economic relations, and historical memory. The folk art or loka-shilpa can be considered to be an age-old folk-cultural tradition in the rural context of West Bengal. Alpana, the typical form of loka shilpa, is a kind of sacramental domestic art with multi-various symbols and symbolic motifs, basically the integral part of religious rituals of Bengali culture. The motifs vary from texts and contexts of the rural eco-cultural settings without formal training of its creators as well as artists. So, Alpana, being an elements of folk culture of Bengal, once has been introduced and popular with mass participation in the Bengali core, presently losing its texts, themes, basic appeal, creativity as well as aesthetic milieu due to the impact of modernization.
New Horizons of Human Development: Art,Spirtualty and Social Transformations
Human development means not only economic, political and ethical development; it also means artistic and spiritual development. My paper offers such a multi-dimensional vision and practice of human development with art and spirituality at its core.
Human development means not only economic, political and ethical development; it also means artistic and spiritual development. All these dimensions of development are interlinked but we have not paid sufficient attention to artistic and spiritual bases and horizons of human development and social transformations.
There is a transformation in the discourse and practice of art now which links it to establishing relationships of beauty and dignity in society. Art is not only what we draw on a piece of paper but the quality of life we live and create in our lives and society. The broadening and deepening of vision and practice of art resonates with broadening and deepening of both spirituality and society. My paper presents new paths of yoga and tantra of human and social development. The yoga of human and social development involves creating fields of mutual learning and connectedness. The tantra of development involves creating vibrant spaces of conviviality where all concerned would enjoy being together and grow in each other's warmth of relationship. The broadening of art and spirituality also is accompanied by deepening of the discourse and realization of the social where social no longer means only structures but also spaces of self and mutual realization. My paper presents these new horizons of human development in both discourse and practice
Transformation of the inner and outside world
Poetry is a powerful way of expression and of inner transformation. Drawing on my research on poetry in Rwanda, I explore how the individual and the society can be/is transformed through poetic creativity
In my presentation, I analyse the poetic creation of a young survivor of the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi in Rwanda through the notion of temporality, relatedness and spatiality. The poem demonstrates the relation between the self and the collectivity and expresses the suffering on the body of the individual as well as on the society. I bring to light the meaning of poetic creation in the transformation of the self and the other. Therefore, I discuss how wisdom generated from poetic creativity can be implemented in social practices to bring a transformation of the society as a whole.
"Trust me and I will do good things for you, even if to make you happy, means to leave you to your self" - collaboration between the Polish and the British community artists in the early 1990s
In this paper I will focus on the notion of personhood and discuss how it is being crafted through one's participation in a community art project. I will explain what kind of values are transmitted under such circumstances.
Community art is a democratic art. It aims to produce art which is not elite but human rights art (Thomson 1979). Community art aims not as much to transform the materials as to transform social relations. This is the art that works on relations, as it was put by Bourriad, who used the notion of "relational aesthethics" to talk about recent developments in art. It aims to transform the existing hierarchies, such as the hierarchy of taste. It also aims to have a political impact.
In my paper I would like to explore the ways in which community art works mediate agencies of differently situated subjects in a social field. I would like to focus on describing the case of collaboration between the Polish and the British community artists, who used to work together on a community arts project conducted in Poland in the early 1990s; soon after the Polish political transformation.
The Transformative Nature of Jazz
Jazz figures from Louis Armstrong to Wynton Marsalis have been forces for change in the world. Many have been Trickster figures who have served to undermine notions of accepted reality. While this feature was most noticed during the 1960s, it has always been part of the music, usually under the guise of humor, as used by Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie. When looked at in the broader picture of African music, the perspective comes into clearer focus.
African musicians have traditionally had a major roe in speaking truth to power. The African musician Fela, who sought to unite all Black music in his own amalgam, exemplified this characteristic. He learned a great deal from jazz about humor and protest, especially from Dizzy Gillespie. In turn, Gillespie admitted that he had learned a good deal from his friend, Louis Armstrong. He also saw the darker side of that process in his closes friend, Charlie Parker. Lester Bowie carried on the tradition in his Art Ensemble of Chicago. I explore the meaning of the Trickster figure in jazz, its desire to create and confound, needing to tear down before recreating the world. It has always taken pomposity as a target and sought to gain respect for the oppressed. Although somewhat muted today, it still breaks out in the very process of creation. Jazz's relationship to the creative mysticism of African music is further explored in this paper.
Realising Music's Life Forms: Etheric Forces in Eurythmy and its Performance
Eurythmy involves performance through movement of musical & voiced sounds, understood by performers to have agency deriving from their etheric interactions with living beings, agency sometimes also put to work to heal. The paper examines anthroposophical roots & practices of such understanding.
As practising anthroposophists, eurythmists work from an understanding that a series of etheric forces underlie and indeed influence all organisms' growth, life energy, development and change; and that sound, musical and voiced, is itself a manifestation of those forces and their relationships with one another. Eurythmists perform both musical and voiced sound through movement and gesture that embody those forces and create opportunity for music to effect social agency. Moreover, since they see such etheric forces as working towards the development (and sometime retardation) of the human body, mind and soul, they also apply their skills to processes of healing. They do that by working with bodily movements that are associated with sounds and music in order to enable the ethers that are the vehicles of sounds and music to work actively on the human subject, thereby healing the body, mind and soul by renewing their mutual harmony. The paper details the kinds of understanding that underpin anthroposophical perspectives on the sounds associated with the various ethers as forces that act as agents of organisms' development and change; and it describes how that understanding is manifested in various eurythmic movement practices. It does that in order to consider an anthroposophical perspective on the multilayered character of musical interactions between the sonic beings alive in music and working through the etheric level to meet the organism; and thereby to understand one contemporary mode whereby the ontology of music is both understood and engaged with.
Capitalist transformations and the social aesthetics of money: Forms, experience and contradictions in a South Indian peasantry.
Based on fieldwork among the South Indian Badagas the paper illustrates the creative interaction of local monetary practices with both a rapidly changing socio-economic environment and locally shared aesthetic principles.
The intellectual correlation between the tendency of capitalist development ethics to subsume morality under economic growth (monetary measured), and the transformative power that critical scholars have attributed to money's ascribed capacity to act as a social dissolvent is obvious. Yet, the persistent heterogeneity of global capitalism and recent global crises demand reflections on both. Thus, not only has the idea of development recently reincorporated notions of morality, harmony, spirituality and self-transformation, but the question how monetization affects people and their social environments has now given rise to the question what people really do with their monies, how precisely it is that money connects and disconnects people as well as their diverse spheres of evaluation, and how its concrete uses therein can be seen as multidimensional ways of expression, remembrance, and creation. Moreover, the all-pervading presence of money in peoples everyday lives and the performativity that is simultaneously displayed in their diverse monetary practices gives rise to questions of monetization as an aesthetic or sensory experience. In an attempt to address these issues the paper presents ethnographic material from the South Indian Badagas, a modern peasant community living in the Nilgiri-Highlands of North-Western Tamil Nadu. It shows how local monetary practices in such diverse fields like market, kinship, village and religion do not only embrace contradictive value regimes in terms of power, identity, self-interest, price, devotion and mutuality, but are experienced within a collective body of aesthetic principles that allows for sensory adaptation of social and economic change.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.