This panel–Sensing Precarity–was staged at the American Anthropological Association, 25 November 2011. The panel featured 12 minute papers by Angela Garcia, Katie Stewart, S. Lochlann Jain, Anne Allison, and Lauren Berlant, with equally long discussion pieces by Stuart J. McLean and João Biehl. Numerous people commented after the panel that it *felt* like a book, which we are too busy to make. But I have also been thinking that these kinds of conference panel are such strange ephemeral things: language in the air, and then what? Hasty thumbs ups, frowns, aggressions and affections; but little time for audience contact; and only a few post-evental emails. We went and had a multi-hour discussion after the panel. Why not post work-in-progress for people not at that discussion or for the people who were there but could not have enjoyed a collective discussion in public? So we’re trying an experiment. Hope the material is useful to you.
Here is the abstract.
How is precarity being sensed and lived in the prolific worldings of historical presents now? We live in times percolating with the sense of precarity. But as fragilities, strains, risks that compromise or defy sustainability, precariousness is nothing new—a condition of life that threatens it with death. Is the economic, political, intimate crisis of global social infrastructure producing a specific precarity today? How is the sense itself of crisis or flatness magnetizing or corroding attachments, attunements, atmospheres, affects? What would it mean to describe the affective components of precarious life in ways that would admit the variation in its frequencies and the non-obviousness of its manifestation into the archive of the collective moment? How does one’s analysis of this conjuncture organize urgency toward forms of reaction that also compose something, challenging the very concept of agency itself?
Angela could not give us her great paper because it’s about to be published. Here is a summary: Drawing on an archive of prison letters written by a three generations of female kin, Angela Garcia’s paper explored the relationship between dislocation, narrativity and relationality. In the context of enforced separation, the paper considered writing and archiving as a reparative practice that enables new affective and material relations. A larger work based on this paper, tentatively titled “The Blue Years,” is forthcoming. And S.L. Jain is being dilatory getting a paper to me, so I’m going ahead without it…But nag Jain, if you like.
- Precarity’s Form
Kathleen C Stewart (University of Texas, Austin)
- Los Años Azules/the Blue Years: Prison, Writing and the Narration of Feeling
Angela N Garcia PhD (Stanford University)
- Visually Archiving Precarity
S. Lochlann Jain (Stanford University)
- Social Precarity: Sensing Hope in Post-Earthquake Japan
Anne Allison (Duke University)
- Austerity, Precarity, Awkwardness
Lauren Berlant (University of Chicago)
- J Biehl ANTHROPOLOGY OF TRANSIENCE 12 24 11
Stuart McLean mcclean Mudslides and Circuses
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