CARAM - Centre for Anthropological Research on Affect and Materiality

CARAM
Department(s) 
Department of Languages and Cultures

Tabgroup

Activities

Specialist doctoral course: Activism and Contestation: Anthropological Reflections - March-May 2020

Co-organised by Anthropology at the KU Leuven, the Institute of Development Policy (Antwerp University) and CARAM

Aim

The aim of the course is to introduce PhD students to cutting-edge scholarship, which opens new pathways for describing and theorizing the role of claim-making, protesting, and mobilization both in social, political, economic and in academic life. 

Throughout the discipline’s history, anthropologists have proposed various theories of resistance, yet the crucial question is: which ones remain relevant in our age? What kinds of new language and concepts do we need to develop to make sense of contemporary contestations, both occurring in academia and beyond? 

While we take a decidedly anthropological approach, the course is open to PhD students of the social sciences, humanities and arts who are interested in engaging with questions of activism & contestation.

This series is the 2nd edition of a collaboration between anthropologists working at various Flemish universities. Last year, the theme was "affect & materiality", organized at the University of Ghent. The 2nd edition will be hosted at the KU Leuven. 

Set up

The course is composed of four lectures by internationally renowned speakers, each preceded by a masterclass in which students will be able to discuss their own work and engage in detailed discussion and debate. Topics addressed include: new progressive movements, opposition to austerity, land and territoriality, anti-racism, popular culture and new media, and decoloniality. 

Program

4 MARCH 2020

Revindicative movements of the neoliberal era/Transformative politics: commoning and the emergence of a political bloc

Ida Susser, Distinghuished Professor in anthropology, Professor and Chair of Anthropology at Hunter College, Professor of Anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center

Based on fieldwork among activists in global cities such as Barcelona and Paris, this paper analyses the emergence of new progressive movements. The paper considers the challenges of horizontality, consensus and representation which have led to some of the splits and disaffection among activists. It asks to what extent class illuminates such difficulties. The paper outlines the many active issue-oriented groups which were inspired by major demonstrations in opposition to austerity. Such groups focus on diverse but often related concerns including housing, the gentrification effects of tourism, immigration, police violence and the development of cooperatives. They operate within the context of new political parties also formed in opposition to austerity. Activist groups and progressive parties have come together but also fragmented over the past five years. Has wider cooperation or scaling up occurred, and is Gramsci´s concept of the emergence of a political bloc useful in this context?

Short bio:

Ida Susser has conducted ethnographic research in the U.S., Southern Africa and Puerto Rico, with respect to urban social movements and the urban commons,· gender, the global AIDS epidemic and environmental movements. Her recent publication: Updated· Norman Street: Poverty and Politics· in an Urban Neighborhood (Oxford University Press 2012). The original edition of this book (Oxford 1982) explores working class consciousness, racism, ethnic identities and gender in the emergence of social movements in Greenpoint- Williamsburg Brooklyn. It focuses specifically on the occupation of the People’s Firehouse sparked by the New York City fiscal crisis of 1975, the first neoliberal experiment. Claiming a Right to New York City the new section discusses the changing neighborhoods of Greenpoint and Williamsburg in Brooklyn from the original ethnography which began with the New York City fiscal to the Occupy movement of 2011.

31 MARCH 2020

A Decolonial Approach to Online Extreme Speech

Sahana Udupa, professor in media anthropology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) Munich

Popular assessments as well as influential studies of digital disinformation and vitriol make two broad arguments about the nature of digital mediation that has led to the current predicament of right-wing populism. The first argument suggests that vicious anonymity of online subjectivities has let loose the most primal animosities of human race, now unmoored from shared values of responsibility, dignity and care. The second related argument locates the problem in equally vicious, yet charismatic, populist leaders who have successfully channelized social media to bypass mainstream media and hoodwink general publics to fall into the trance of right-wing rancor. While both the arguments have a grain of truth, they reveal less than what is at stake. Based on fieldwork among right-wing online users in India and comparative insights drawn from ethnographic cases in different regions of the world, this talk presents a complex scenario of precarious labor, manipulation, and fun that lies behind right-wing populist cultures online. To demonstrate the point, I draw upon but move beyond Euro-Atlantic cases of online right-wing mobilizations analyzed in recent studies as “specific resentments and rage of aggrieved power” (Brown, 2018) and turbulences in “the liberal settlement” (Mazzarella, 2018). Examining online right-wing nationalist activities in India more closely, I argue that online extreme speech and disinformation are not only about a particular subjectivity, even less a mere psychological disposition, but a constellation of practices, affordances, and actors. Finally, I ask if this analysis should get into a conversation with recent thinking on “decoloniality”, and what gains there are in bringing these perspectives closer.

Short bio:

Sahana Udupa is Professor of Media Anthropology at LMU Munich, where she leads a five-year research project on digital politics funded by the European Research Council: www.fordigitaldignity.com. She researches and teaches digital politics, online hate speech and extreme speech, news and journalism cultures, and media policy. She is the author of Making News in Global India: Media, Publics, Politics (Cambridge University Press, UK, 2015) and co-editor of Media as Politics in South Asia (Routledge, London, 2016, with S. McDowell). Her most recent publications include, “Extreme speech and global digital cultures” (special section in International Journal of Communication, with M.Pohjonen); “Digital politics in millennial India” (special issue in Television & New Media, with S. Venkatraman and A. Khan) and “Gaali cultures: The politics of abusive exchange on social media” (New Media and Society, 2017). She produces and co-hosts the podcast on digital media, “Online Gods” (with I.M. Cook).

27 APRIL 2020

The stateless (ad)vantange? Resistance, land and rootedness in the Israeli-Occupied Syrian Golan Heights

Maria Kastrinou, Lecturer in Social Anthropology, Brunel University London

Can statelessness and political emancipatory resistance co-exist? Exploring the political economy of resistance amongst stateless farmers in the Israeli-Occupied Syrian Golan Heights, this paper positions itself within the context of a more refined understanding of the politics of statelessness and citizenship, whilst recognizing the continued role and power of the State. We argue that despite Israel’s material power over the control of resources and bodies in the Golan Heights it has been far less successful in exercising ideological control. We argue that this stems from the Occupied Syrians’ combined condition as territorially, spiritually and culturally rooted to the land alongside their stateless condition (rendering them beyond the patronage of the State). The empirical material draws from extended participant observation among Golani Syrians (in Syria and the Golan) as well as interviews with farmers. We explain how and why specifically the Druze inhabitants of the Golan remained with their land after the Israeli occupation. We then demonstrate their significant resistance efforts, and their conflicts with Israel, over and through their claims to a legitimate presence in the material and ideational landscape. In doing so we challenge common assumptions that stateless, Druze, and rural communities are particularly susceptible to State agendas.

Short bio:

Anchored in political anthropology, Dr Kastrinou’s research focuses on sectarian politics and national belonging, religion, state, conflict and energy in the Middle East and South-Eastern Mediterranean. For my PhD, she conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork research in Syria (2008–2011) looking at contested identities and politics between the Druze sect and the Syrian state. In response to the ongoing war in Syria, her research has incorporated political economy and historical approaches in ongoing projects on the politics of energy and resource conflict in Syria and Lebanon (Durham Energy Institute 2013-2014; AHRC/ESRC Conflict grant 2016-2017), as well as new fieldwork with Syrian refugees in Greece and stateless Syrians in the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights (BRIEF Award 2015-ongoing).

12 MAY 2020

Black Identities and the Search for Inclusion in Dutch Society

Francio Guadeloupe, lecturer at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, University of Amsterdam

My new book project, So How Does it Feel to be a black man living in the Netherlands, an anthropological account, complements the gender inflected anti-racist scholarship of stellar Dutch scholars such as Philomena Essed and Gloria Wekker. Where Essed (1991) focuses on the experience and knowledge that Afro-Dutch women have regarding everyday racism, and Wekker (2016) undertakes a ‘psychoanalysis’ of white people as she phrases it, mine is one that brings to the fore the ways within the realm of urban popular culture brown skinned women and men of Antillean descent in the Netherlands contest their secondarization and together with other Dutch—e.g. Moroccan-Dutch, Ghanaian-Dutch, Turkish-Dutch, Surinamese-Dutch, native-Dutch, etc.—have been busy creating and pushing an anti-racist understanding of Dutch identity. In doing so I focus on the way these youths have been developing alternative ways of conceiving the Netherlands in urban music, video clips, sporting grounds, and stand up comedies. Those who became nationally acclaimed urban popular artists project other presentations of self into the Dutch mainstream. I take these alternative formulations of Dutch identity to be translations of a more inclusive structure of feeling, inspired by everyday convivialities, that deserves academic attention for the ways in which it foregrounds the agency of the subalternized without downplaying the impact of institutional and everyday forms of racism.

Short bio:

Aruban born anthropologist Francio Guadeloupe has worked at all the major universities in the Netherlands. He also served for four years—2013-2017—as the President of the University of St. Martin (USM), until hurricane Irma led to the closure of the institution, on the bi-national island of Sint Maarten and Saint Martin. He is currently employed as a lecturer and researcher at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He is the author of the monograph, Chanting Down the New Jerusalem: Calypso, Christianity, and Capitalism in the Caribbean(University of California Press, 2009).

How to register

The guest lectures are open; and no registration is required for these.
PhD students from KU Leuven, Ghent University and the University of Antwerp who would like to present their work during the Masterclasses with the guest speakers are invited to submit a written application. The application should consist of a written motivation, a short abstract of your doctoral research (250 words), and a stated preference for one of the four sessions where you would like to present your work. 

We only have slots available for the sessions with Ida Susser, Sahana Udupa and Francio Guadeloupe!

To register (or if you need further information) please send us an email (katrien.pype@kuleuven.benadia.fadil@kuleuven.beuntil February 16 2020. A selection will be made by February 18. Decisions will be communicated immediately thereafter.  

At Ghent University and the University of Antwerp, students can earn credits. At KU Leuven, the Masterclass series is acknowledged by the Doctoral School of FSW; it also is part of the doctoral program at the Arts Faculty. 

CARAM Spring lecture - 07 May 2020, 16:00

Dr. Sushrut Jadhav, M.B.B.S., M.D., MRCPsych., Ph.D., Senior Lecturer - University College London (UCL)

Purity, Pollution and Prejudice: Clinical Ethnographic Engagements across Caste

Venue: Faculteitsraadzaal, Blandijn 1st floor 

[abstract]

 

Book presentation - 18 December 2019, 14:00-16:00

Prof. Maria Frederika Malmström (Lund University): The Streets Are Talking to Me: Affective Fragments in Sisi's Egypt

Venue: Campus Boekentoren, Blandijn, room 110.022 (first floor), Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent

This sophisticated book presents new theoretical and analytical insights into the momentous events in the Arab world that began in 2011 and, more importantly, into life and politics in the aftermath of these events. Focusing on the qualities of the sensory world, Maria Frederika Malmström explores the dramatic differences after the Egyptian revolution and their implications for society—the lack of sound in the floating landscape of Cairo after the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, the role of material things in the sit-ins of 2013, the military evocation of masculinities (and the destruction of alternative ones), and how people experience pain, rage, disgust, euphoria, and passion in the body. While focused primarily on changes unfolding in Egypt, this study also investigates how materiality and affect provide new possibilities for examining societies in transition. A book of rare honesty and vulnerability, The Streets Are Talking to Me is a brilliant, unconventional, and self-conscious ethnography of the space where affect, material life, violence, political crisis, and masculinities meet one another. 

Maria Frederika Malmström is Associate Professor in the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and a Visiting Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University, New York City.  Malmström received her PhD from the School of Global Studies, Social Anthropology, University of Gothenburg. She has taught as a Visiting Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology and in the Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality at Columbia University and as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Global Studies at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and in the Department of Cultural Studies, University West, Sweden. Malmström was, between 2010-2016, a Visiting Scholar at New York University, at the Department of Anthropology; Performance Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts; and the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality. In addition, she was, between 2012-2016, a senior researcher for North Africa in the Conflict, Security and Democratic Transformation Cluster at the Nordic Institute in Uppsala, Sweden. 

Conference: Restitution of Colonial Collections in Europe: Possibilities, Challenges, Dilemmas - 2-3 December 2019

TAPAS/Thinking About the PASt and Centre for Anthropological Research on Affect and Materiality (CARAM) are proud to announce this conference on the restitution of colonial collections in Europe, taking place on December 2 and 3, 2019 in Ghent.  

Following the recent repatriation of human remains from Germany to the Namibian and Australian governments and French president Emmanuel Macron’s statement that the return of African objects in French museums is a ‘priority’, claims for the restitution of colonial acquisitions have gained momentum in Europe. Various social and cultural groups as well as states demand the return of human remains, archives and cultural objects in colonial collections to which they claim cultural, religious, historical or biological affinity. Yet many museums, collectors and governments continue to wrestle with restitution demands, often lacking a clear vision on the best way forward or resorting to defensive discourses. These include a legalist reasoning in which states and ethnographic museums today cannot be held accountable for crimes committed so long ago, referring to the high scientific or market value of the acquired objects or following a statist reasoning in which only claims by ‘nation states’ are valued as legitimate. This conference wants to particularly explore such motivations and the implicit philosophical convictions that underpin many restitution-claims and responses to them. 

Date: December 2 and 3, 2019

Location: Monnikenzaal - Saint Peter's Abbey, Sint-Pietersplein 9, 9000 Ghent - Belgium

To inscribe: tapas@Ugent.be

Organising Committee

Prof. Dr. Berber Bevernage (TAPAS, INTH, UGent) 

Dra. Marie-Gabrielle Verbergt (TAPAS, INTH, UGent)

Dra. Eline Mestdagh (TAPAS, INTH, UGent)

Dr. Hugo De Block (CARAM, UGent)

Prof. dr. Sarah Van Beurden (CARAM, UGent)

Dr. Hein Van Hee (CARAM, UGent)

Program

Monday December 2, 2019

9:00 - 9:15: Welcome Address and Introduction by Organizing Committee

9:15 - 11:00: Panel: Changing Museum Practices

Chair: Sarah Van Beurden (Ohio State University)

Marcia Chuva (Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro - UNIRIO) – The Institutional histories in the debate about restitution: the National Museum of Ethnology in Lisbon in focus

Henrietta Lidchi (Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage) – Changing practices in the Dutch National Museum of World Cultures 

Carola Thielecke (Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz) – The German Museums Association’s Guidelines on Dealing with Collections from Colonial Contexts  

11:00 - 11:30: Coffee Break 

11:30 - 13:15:  Panel: Negotiating Return

Chair: Hugo De Block (Ghent University - KASK) 

Alma Nankela (National Heritage Council of Namibia, Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA) and Namibia Scientific Society) – A Namibian Experience: The contentious politics of repatriations of human remains, associated objects and sacred objects

Lars Müller (Landesmuseum Hannover) – Negotiating a German Position. Debates about Postcolonial Restitution in the 1970s and Early 1980s

Jean Claude Malitano  (Coordinateur Actions pour la promotion rurale DRC)– Restitution de connaissance à Faradje (Haut-Uélé, RDC), à partir des photographes historiques dans le Musée Royale de l’Afrique Centrale (MRAC)

13:15  - 14:15: Lunch Break 

14:15  - 15:15: Keynote: Placide Mumbembele - Les demandes pour la restitution, et la dialogue entre les musées du nord et du sud concernant la restitution

Chair: Sarah Van Beurden  (Ohio State University)

15:15 - 16:25: Panel: Restitution and the Law  

Chair: Berber Bevernage (Ghent University)

Marie-Sophie De Clippele (Université Saint-Louis) – Timid steps in the Belgian legal framework for restitution

Wouter Veraart (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) – Obstacles on the Road to Restitution of Colonial Cultural Objects

16:25 - 17:00: Coffee Break

17:00 - 18:00: Roundtable discussion: negotiating Restitution in Belgium 

TBA

Tuesday December 3, 2019

9:00-10:45: Panel: Restitution and Heritage perspectives

Chair: Hugo De Block (Ghent University - KASK) 

Katrijn d’Hamers (FARO) – FARO’s working group on restitution and the Flemish Heritage sector 

Augustin Bikale (UNESCO) – TBA

Lies Busselen (Universiteit van Amsterdam) – If objects could speak. Dismantling relativistic approaches and de-materializing universal heritage in the AfricaMuseum

10:45 - 11:15: Coffee Break 

11:15 - 13:00: Panel: Restitution and Artistic Practices

Chair: Marie-Gabrielle Verbergt (Ghent University) 

Claire Norton (St Mary’s University) – Art and the politics of cultural appropriation and restitution

Christine Bluard (Royal Museum for Central Africa) – Discussion sur les pratiques curatives et les collections coloniales 

Patrick Mudekereza (Waza, Centre d’art de Lubumbashi) - TBA

13:00 - 14:00: Lunch Break 

14:00 - 15:45:  Panel: Restitution, Reparation and Historical (In)justice

Chair: Eline Mestdagh (Ghent University)

Christine Kreamer (National Museum of African Art Washington DC) – Beyond restitution: paths toward a clearing

Mirjam Shatanawi (National Museum of World Cultures, the Netherlands)  – Colonial collections from Indonesia in the Netherlands and questions of redress

Joachim Ben Yakoub (Ghent University) and Gia Abrassart (Café Congo) – “No Restitution, without reparations!” Exploring the implicit motivations and persuasions underpinning the demand of restitution

15:45 - 16:15: Coffee Break 

16:15 - 17:25:  Panel: Restitution and Intellectual Property

Chair: Hugo De Block  (Ghent University - KASK) 

Kelly Breemen (NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies) – Competing interests? Protection and restitution of cultural heritage at the intersection of intellectual property, cultural heritage and human rights law

Folarin Shyllon (University of Ibadan) – The Appropriation of African Intellectual Property: Another Form of Looting of African Cultural Heritage?

17:25 - 18:30:  Closing Roundtable and Discussion

Chair: Berber Bevernage (Ghent University)

Ciraj Rassool (University of the Western Cape) 

Susan Legêne (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) 

Lecture: Kongo Art - 27 November 2019, 10:00-12:00

Prof. Barbaro Martinez-Ruiz (Oxford University): Ndinga i Sinsu: A Quest for Kongo Art

Venue: Campus Boekentoren, Blandijn, room 110.022 (first floor), Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent

The lecture will focus on agency in Kongo society, exploring a complex state of social development in which legal, political, religious and visual systems motivate responses to and interpretations of Kongo cultural principles in the Atlantic world. Martinez-Ruiz will argue that the myriad forms of communication known as Ndinga i Sinsu seamlessly integrate into a wide range of audio and visual communicative techniques that he terms ‘graphic writing systems’. Such systems also include proverbs, mambos, syncopated rhythms, a large variety of written symbols, and oral traditions that are rich sources of cultural and social histories, religious beliefs, myths, and other expressions of the shared Bakongo worldview. The lecture will incorporate key examples gathered through fieldwork among the Kongo people in northern Angola, southern Democratic Republic of the Congo and within Kongo-based religious traditions in the Americas.

Barbaro Martinez-Ruiz is Leverhulme Distinguished Professor and Senior Fellow at St Anthony’s College, University of Oxford.

Seminar: Music Making in Dagbon Society (Ghana) - 20 November 2019, 10:00-11:00

Dominik Phyfferoen (Ghent University): The Dynamics of Music Making in Dagbon Society.  Developing Contemporary Idioms out of Traditional Music in The Dagbon Hiplife Zone of Northern Ghana

Venue: Campus Boekentoren, Blandijn, room 120.043 (second floor), Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent

In this seminar we will present some results of a longitudinal fieldwork we conducted in the Northern Region of Ghana, focusing on the dynamics of music making in Dagbon society. In the first section we will discuss the African idioms of music making in Dagbon with the emphasis on transformational  processes seen from the angle of embodied music interaction. The second part of the presentation will zoom into “The Dagbon Hiplife Zone” in Northern Ghana. It is an imaginary filter, a liminal time-space, an intangible cultural in-betweenness in which key components coming from the traditional idioms of music making interact, transform and blend with new digital contemporary idioms of music making. By means of music examples, we will show how traditional African idioms of music-making creatively blend with cross-cultural and cross-musical components that stem from Africa, Afro-American, Bollywoodish and Western inspired idioms of music making in Tamale.

Dominik Phyfferoen is a PhD student at the Centre for Anthropological Research on Affect and Materiality.

Conference: Afterlives: Rethinking the Politics of Loss and Demise - 7 June 2019

Keynote speaker: Prof. Nancy Rose Hunt (University of Florida)

With: Kinda Chaib, Bryonny Goodwin-Hawkins, Çiçek İlengiz, Rachel Lehr, Ruth Mandel, Adeline Masquelier, Chris Moffat, Tanja Petrović, Erol Sağlam, Marlene Schäfers

Ghent University, Campus Aula

Afterlives appear in manifold ways. From deceased ancestors and celebrated martyrs, over decaying ruins and material remains, to past ideologies and bygone moral orders: even after their actual life time, persons, things and ideas often retain a presence in the here-and-now, posing vital questions about time, justice and social order. This interdisciplinary, one-day symposium seeks to explore how, when and why afterlives become activated, where they draw their potency from and how they constitute social and political communities.

Much popular discourse and scholarly thought has approached the lingering presence of the past in the here-and-now through the notion of memory. As a concept, however, memory remains problematically tied to an understanding of temporality as linear progression within a frame of secular immanence. By contrast, in this symposium we want to investigate afterlife as a concept that brings into view manifestations of the past that defy linear imaginations of time, question the prevalence of this-worldly presence and become articulated through complex human-non-human assemblages.

Contributions will explore how afterlives are made and unmade through material and immaterial means and how their affective and sensual reverberations shape social and political worlds. We are particularly interested in how afterlives, as they draw death, loss and demise into the present, raise potentially troubling questions about social justice and retribution, engendering fields of intense political contestation. By investigating how afterlives exert claims on the living in this way and to what effect, our aim is to rethink the politics of loss and demise beyond the strictures of this-worldly presentism.

If you would like to attend please register until May 31st by sending an e-mail to marlene.schafers@ugent.be. Registration fees are 15€ (regular) and 10€ (students), covering lunch and coffee.

Prof. Hunt's keynote speech is open to the public, free of charge and does not require registration.

Program

9:00-9:15 Welcome and coffee

Pleitlokaal, Universiteitstraat 4

9:15-10:45 Panel I: The afterlives of labour, ecology and the colony

Pleitlokaal, Universiteitstraat 4

Chair: Prof. Berber Bevernage (Ghent University)

Adeline Masquelier (Tulane University/Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies)
Of Djinns and Schoolgirls: Possession, Ecological Thought, and the Burden of the Past in Niger

Bryonny Goodwin-Hawkins (Aberystwyth University)
The Railroad to Nowhere and the Ghosts of EU Funding Past

Chris Moffat (Queen Mary University of London)
Anticolonial Afterlives and the Politics of Inheritance 

10:45-11:15 Coffee Break

11:15-12:45 Panel II: Performing and narrating afterlives

Pleitlokaal, Universiteitstraat 4

Chair: Prof. Katrien Pype (KU Leuven)

Kinda Chaib (PSL / Ecole Normale Supérieure)
The presence of martyrs: A theatre play in South Lebanon

Marlene Schäfers (Ghent University) 
Pain, words and rubble: Narrating the afterlives of Kurdish martyrs 

Ruth Mandel (University College London), Rachel Lehr (University of Colorado Boulder)
The many afterlives of Stolpersteine

12:45-13:45 Lunch

13:45-15:15 Keynote 
Facultaire Raadzaal, Volderstraat 3

Shrunken or Supple Lives? Milieu, Laboratory, Pathology and Near Catastrophe in African Zones

Prof. Nancy Rose Hunt (University of Florida)

What to do with disaster or catastrophe? It is important to attend to afterlives following critical events, though also dodge aftermath talk and traumatic framings. While returning to Maurice Blanchot on writing the disaster, I will consider Georges Canguilhem on the often fine line between an already threatened lifeand one lived with suppleness in relation to a milieu, laboratory, or shrunken milieu. My reflections will reconsider afterlives following terrible violence in colonial Congo (per A Nervous State), while gesturing toward new work on war and madness within migratory and securitizing contexts in Africa since the 1990s.

15:15-15:45 Coffee break

15:45-17:15 Panel III: Intimate afterlives: Loss and mourning

Facultaire Raadzaal, Volderstraat 3

Chair: Prof. Koenraad Stroeken (Ghent University)

Çiçek İlengiz (Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin)
Engaging with Loss through Holy-Madness: The Case of Şeywuşen (Hüseyin Tatar 1930-1994), Dersim/Turkey

Tanja Petrović (Institute of Culture and Memory Studies ZRC SAZU, Ljubljana)
Impossible friendships and possible futures: The Afterlife of Male Bonding in the Yugoslav Military Service

Erol Sağlam (Stockholm University)
When Your Own Home is Haunted: Collective Memory, Remembrance, and Treasure Hunts in Contemporary Turkey

17:15-17:30 Wrap Up

***CARAM Spring lecture*** - Thursday 25 April 2019, 17:00-18:30

Prof. Michael Taussig (Columbia University): The Metamorphic Sublime

Venue: Lecture Hall E, Campus Boekentoren, Jozef Plateaustraat 22, 9000 Gent

In the Age of Trump, the dark surrealism of ecological devastation, the re-enchantment of nature as the negative sacred, Facebook, state surveillance, and the cunning of what Deleuze and Guattari called “the war machine,” reality has evolved into metamorphic sublimity. In the words of science fiction writer, William Burroughs, “Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.” All of which calls for a counter-shamanic practice aligned with a Green New Deal that I refer to as the Mastery of Non-Mastery. 

Michael Taussig is an anthropologist known for his provocative ethnographic studies and unconventional style as an academic. He was born in Australia and later studied medicine at the University of Sydney. He earned a PhD in anthropology at the London School of Economics. He is currently a professor of anthropology at Columbia University in New York and at The European Graduate School / EGS in Switzerland. In spite of his numerous publications in his field, especially in medical anthropology, he is most acclaimed for his commentaries on Karl Marx and Walter Benjamin, especially in relation to the idea of commodity fetishism. Michael Taussig is the author of the following books: Palma Africana (2018), The Corn Wolf (2015), Beauty and the Beast (2012), I Swear I Saw This: Drawings in Fieldwork Notebooks, Namely My Own (2011), What Color is the Sacred? (2009), Walter Benjamin’s Grave (2006), My Cocaine Museum (2004), Law in a Lawless Land: Diary of a Limpieza in a Colombian Town (2003), Defacement (1999), Magic of the State (1997), Mimesis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Senses (1993), The Nervous System (1992), Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing (1987), and The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America (1980).

You can watch Taussig's lecture here

Specialist doctoral course: How to Study Affect? Anthropological Engagements with Materiality (2018-2019)

Organising committee

Prof. Rozita Dimova (Ghent Centre for Slavic and East-European Studies / Centre for Anthropological Research on Affect and Materiality)

Dr. Carine Plancke (Centre for Research on Culture and Gender / Centre for Anthropological Research on Affect and Materiality)

Dr. Marlene Schäfers (Middle East and North Africa Research Group / Centre for Anthropological Research on Affect and Materiality)

Prof. Koen Stroeken (Centre for Anthropological Research on Affect and Materiality)

Scientific committee

Prof. Ann Heirman (Ghent Centre for Buddhist Studies, Ghent University)

Prof. Iman Lechkar (Expertisecentrum Gender, Diversiteit en Intersectionaliteit, VUB)

Prof. Chia Longman (Centre for Research on Culture and Gender, Ghent University)

Prof. Sasha Newell (Laboratoire d’anthropologie des mondes contemporains, ULB)

Prof. Chris Parker (Middle East and North Africa Research Group, Ghent University)

Prof. Dr. Katrien Pype (Institute for Anthropological Research on Africa, KU Leuven)

Topic

Over the last two decades, affect has become a key concept in the humanities and social sciences in order to address experiences that defy capture through dominant modes of representation. The so-called ‘affective turn’ seeks to overcome dualistic divisions between body and mind, the social and the material, the human and the non-human by focusing on different bodies’ capacity to affect and be affected. The course will introduce PhD students to this cutting-edge scholarship, which opens new pathways for describing and theorizing the role of embodied feelings, sentiments and intensities in cultural, social, and political life. Affect theory has been critiqued, however, for being overly abstract and vague, remaining confined to a highly specific jargon. How, then, to study affect? This course proposes anthropological engagements with materiality through ethnographic research methods as a fruitful avenue for exploring the pathways and workings of affect in empirical and grounded ways.

Format

The course will consist of four public lectures and four masterclasses by prominent scholars who have extensively engaged with the topic of affect. Students will prepare reading assignments before each masterclass. During the masterclass, the lecturers will discuss the readings in exchange with students. Each student will choose one masterclass for giving a presentation on their own PhD research and on how they have dealt with or intend to deal with the topics of affect and materiality.

Level

The course is open to PhD students from a variety of disciplines (including anthropology, area studies, geography, history, economics, sociology, political studies, gender studies, education). No prior knowledge is requested.

Programme

Session 1: 8 November 2018 - Affect, landscape and the politics of heritage - Prof. Joost Fontein, Respondent: Prof. Katrien Pype (KU Leuven)

Venue: Faculty Room, Campus Boekentoren, Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent 

Joost Fontein is a Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Johannesburg. He did his doctoral fieldwork in southern Zimbabwe, exploring the political materialities of land and water and the politics of heritage and landscape in the context of ongoing contests over sovereignty, belonging and the reconfiguration of postcolonial stateness. His thesis won the ASA UK Audrey Richards Prize and a monograph entitled The Silence of Great Zimbabwe: Contested Landscapes & the Power of Heritage was released by UCL Press in 2006. More recently, he published the book Remaking Mutirikwi: Landscape, Water and Belonging in Southern Zimbabwe (Boydell & Brewer Ltd, 2015). Currently, he is involved in collaborative research exploring the affective presence and emotive materiality of human remains. With Cara Krmpotich and John Harries, he edited a special issue on this topic in the Journal of Material Culture.

10.00-12.30: Masterclass: Bones, bodies and human substances: Towards an understanding of the politics of human corporeality

14:00-16:00: Public lecture: Damming Mutirikwi: Planning, perception and imagination in late Colonial Rhodesia

This lecture draws from a chapter in my 2015 book, Remaking Mutirikwi. It comes from archival research on the building of the Mutirikwi (Kyle) dam on the Mutirikwi river in Masvingo (then Victoria) district in the late 1950s. It begins by focusing on the debates of the 1950s about which dams (Popotekwe, Kyle and Bangala) to build on the Mutirikwi river system. Engaging with Ingold’s efforts to close the gap between imagining and perceiving landscape - what I term the materialities of imagination - it explores how minute material engagements with the affordances of soil, topography and hydrology were caught up in the divergent demands of local white Rhodesians (residents of Fort Victoria) and the lowveld sugar industries downstream in Chiredzi, who had all long been lobbying, for very different reasons, for a dam on that river system. 

Session 2: 7-8 February 2019 - Decay and meaninglessness: Intersections of affect and temporality - Dr. Martin Demant Frederiksen, Respondent: Prof. Sasha Newell (ULB)

Venue: Room 160.015, Campus Boekentoren, Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent

Martin Demant Frederiksen is postdoctoral fellow at the Department for Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo. His research interests concern questions of disengagement among youth and the role of decay, meaninglessness and the existence of Nothing in social life. Related research interests and areas include nihilism, crime and corruption, urban development and infrastructures, time and materiality. He has conducted ethnographic research in the Republic of Georgia since 2006, mainly in the cities of Batumi, Ambrolauri and Tbilisi, and more recently in Bulgaria and Croatia. Currently he is working on a comparative monograph about vacancy and transcience in southeastern Europe. His book Young Men, Time, and Boredom in the Republic of Georgia was published in 2013 by Temple University Press.

7 February 14.00-16.00: Public lecture: Last Resorts – Secondhand Architecture and Uncanny Valleys in Southeastern Europe

The lecture will depart from Masahiro Mori’s (1970) description of human responses to robots in which he observed that people respond positively to robots that either look barely human or completely human. But when those humanoid objects come to appear almost but not quite real, they elicit feelings of a different sort: extreme eeriness and discomfort. This, in Jasia Reichardt’s (1978) rendering of Mori’s work, is the “uncanny valley,” the revulsion that people feel in looking at a human facsimile or look-alike. But how does this principle of uncanniness apply to subjective relations to and experiences of the built environment? Drawing on ethnographic examples from Armenia, Georgia and Croatia, I will examine how senses of eeriness come to surround architectural forms that are almost, but not quite, ruins. The cases in point concern the use and re-use of modernist resorts that over time have fluctuated between potentially falling into complete decay and potentially being re-used or renovated.

8 February 10.00-12.30: Masterclass: Decay, Surfaces and Temporality​

Session 3: 28-29 March 2019 - Affect, subjectivity and the body Dr. Victor Igreja, Respondent: Prof. Koen Stroeken (UGent)

Venue: Faculty Room, Campus Boekentoren, Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent

Victor Igreja is Senior Lecturer of International Studies at the University of Southern Queensland and a Research Fellow at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) and Fritz Thyssen Foundation. He did his PhD at the University of Leiden (2007) on processes of healing, reconciliation and justice in the aftermath of the Mozambican civil war. In 2008-2009 he was a fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS) where he worked on different forms of mediations of experiences of violence in Africa. Further research at the African Studies Centre led him to explore the role of post-colonial politics on processes of religious transformation in Mozambique and religious strategies of talk to convey experiences of post-colonial pain. Currently, he is part of a research project that investigates guilt as a culturally productive force. He is the author of numerous articles published in international journals such as Transcultural Psychiatry, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Social Science & Medicine, Anthropological Quarterly, Current Anthropology and International Journal of Transitional Justice.

28 March 14:00-16:00: Public Lecture: Negotiating relationships in transition: Approaches to unconventional evidence of serious violations perpetrated in famine crisis

In conflict-ridden communities, justice specialists gather evidence through factual verbal accounts and material vestiges of serious violations, perpetrated during repressive regimes and warfare, to eventually lay legal charges against alleged perpetrators. Anthropologists and sociologists also engage with similar contexts, but have included conventional bodily rituals and routinized and commemoration practices as sources of knowledge of violent pasts and struggles for historical justice, although without legal accountability intent. This article shifts the prevailing focus on repressive regimes and warfare to analyze the famine continuum and expands the conventional procedures of gathering evidence of serious violations. It shows how a contingent combination of singular bodily actions, collective imagination and negotiations, and kinship norms evolved and became instrumental in two ways: In refining contested fragments of evidence of serious violations perpetrated during the 1980s’ experiences of severe famine in Mozambique, and, in sustaining local struggles for accountability conveyed through bodily actions. The ensuing embodied accountability reshaped relationships by changing the prominence of silence and denial, exposing ordinary perpetrators of serious violations and cementing memories of the guilt in the landscape. Thus, comprehensive approaches to capture the diversity of legacies of serious violations marred by fragile evidence should not disregard the versatility of singular bodily actions, while seriously considering the multiplicity of meanings, contexts and perpetrators of serious violations and embodied accountability struggles in conflict zones.

29 March 10:00-12:30: Masterclass: Affect and imagination in breaking and remaking social relationships 

Session 4: 6 May – Affective states - Prof. Mateusz Laszczkowski, Respondent: Prof. Rozita Dimova (UGent)

Mateusz Laszczkowski is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Warsaw. His research explores material environments and infrastructures as generative sites shaping human sociality and political dynamics. He has studied that topic through ethnographic fieldwork in urban Kazakhstan and, more recently, in Alpine Italy. He is the author of ‘City of the Future’: Built Space, Modernity, and Urban Change in Astana, and co-editor of Affective States: Entanglements, Suspensions, Suspicions (with Madeleine Reeves). His newest work on bodily affect and political resistance is forthcoming in the journal Anthropological Theory this year. 

10.00-12.30: Masterclass: Feeling the State: Affective Infrastructures of Power

Venue: Faculty Room, Campus Boekentoren, Building Blandijn, Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent

14:00-16:00: Public lecture: The Stuff that Kills: Material Affects and Contentious Politics in Infrastructural Conflict in Italy

What counts as contentious political action facing forces that threaten all life in a given area, including the lives of local residents, activists, police, and non-humans such as trees? Can caring for trees count? What about caring for cops? These are some questions that were raised for activists during anti-high speed rail protests in Valsusa, Italy, by data about life-threatening aerial pollution that was generated from tunnel-building. In this lecture, I examine the affective intensities of encounters with deadly materials, as well as the qualification of those affects through science and political ideology. I argue that such affectively charged encounters inspired innovative forms of action that challenged the notion – prevalent among activists and scholars alike ‑ of politics as essentially antagonistic. I thus extend the current anthropological conversation about affect and material agency as generative forces shaping the political.

Venue: Lecture Hall E, Campus Boekentoren, Jozef Plateaustraat 22, 9000 Gent

Evaluation criteria

100% attendance to all sessions (lectures and masterclasses) is required. Students choose one Masterclass for giving a presentation.

Info and registration

For further information and registration, send an email to carine.plancke@ugent.be and marlene.schafers@ugent.be (before 1 November 2018)

Funding

The course is co-funded by the doctoral schools of UGent and KULeuven (Junior Researchers Support Platform - OJO).

CARAM Spring lecture - 15 May 2018, 16:00-18:00

Prof. Sasha Newell (Université Libre de Bruxelles): The Crowding of Clutter: Affective Belongings and Storage Space in U.S. Homes

Venue: Room 150.018 (5th floor), Blandijnberg 2 9000 Gent 

Building upon ethnography in the hidden spaces of U.S. homes, this paper excavates carefully concealed affective intimacies with objects. Unlike curated collections, accumulations of stored things grow and seep of their own accord in darkened corners, gradually accruing mass and inserting affective hooks into the tissue of their owners' sociality, until they burst forth into visible space in ways that threaten normative values. Those who fail to contain  such accumulations are classified as hoarders, their deviance essentialized as mental disorder, while others anxiously patrol the frontiers of ordered domestic space in hopes of keeping clutter at bay. But because stored things are often part of the non-conscious cognitive apparatus through which memory, kinship, and temporality are managed, the affective force of possessions resists both mental and material containment. 

 

Sasha Newell is associate professor in the Laboratoire d'Anthropologie des Mondes Contemporains at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. He is currently working on problems of storage and accumulation in U.S. society as well as cons, sorcery, and digital technology in Côte d'Ivoire. He received his PhD from Cornell University in 2003 and has taught at a wide range of institutions, including NYU, UVA, and the University of Illinois. He is author of the The Modernity Bluff: Crime, Consumption, and Citizenship in Côte d'Ivoire as well as articles on affect, pentecostalism and witchcraft, fashion, brands, hoarding, migration, social networks, theft, and informal economy. 

About

CARAM - meaning ‘generosity’ (karam) in Arabic - brings together researchers in the humanities and social sciences who work in the fields of materiality, affect, the body, religion and/or ethnicity. Operating from the perspective of critical area studies and versed in anthropological theory, these researchers rely on historicized ethnographic fieldwork as one of their methods. To overcome classic divides (nature and culture, body and mind, matter and idea, technology and culture, politics and religion) CARAM opts for the complementary pair of materiality and affect as research thematic. The thematic is inclusively defined. Materiality, replacing the obsolete ‘material culture’, focuses on the relation between objects and users, in light of social and cultural dynamics. To account for agency and creativity in those dynamics, affect has emerged as an interdisciplinary concept. Affect and subjectivity are not only articulated in art, religion, and ritual, but also constitute the pivot in anthropological studies of cultural identity and ethnicity.

CARAM joins the postcolonial and post-imperialist turn in critical area studies, material culture studies, and the anthropology of practices at the nexus between materiality and affect. These practices comprise among others ritual, embodiment, medicine, sensory/sensual imaginaries, (digital) technology, and power. 

 

If you wish to be regularly updated by e-mail about CARAM's activities and events, please communicate your e-mail address to carine.plancke@ugent.be or marlene.schafers@ugent.be so that we can add you to our mailing list.

Researchers

Members

External(s)

Hein Vanhee

Curator at Royal Museum for Central Africa

Sarah Van Beurden

African American and African Studies - Ohio State University
Projects