Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Psychological Anthropology
Primary Theme: Ethics
As mooded beings—who cannot help but be in some mood or other— the world always discloses itself to us from whatever mood we find ourselves in. And, as moral beings—who may attune to, struggle with, interrogate, but cannot help but be sensitive to the moral valences of everyday life—the world is saturated with morally laden meaning. The morally and moodily saturated everyday, in turn, comprises a complexity of temporalities, being infused with past experiences and future orientations. In the context of a deepening interest in anthropology in the future and futurities, this panel seeks to expand and refine perspectives on how the future inhabits everyday experience. To do so, we investigate the co-articulating of moods and moralities towards the future in a wide range of ethnographic contexts: from the urban U.S, to the Balkans, to the anglophone Caribbean, the south Pacific, and Western Europe.
Contemporary anthropological engagements with the future tend to emphasize the uncertainty, risk, or precarity in today’s world. Indeed, the impossibility of ever truly knowing what the future holds—its perpetual escape beyond our epistemic grasp—is an ever-present, structuring dimension of human relationships and engagements with future time. Individual experience in the context of that perpetual uncertainty, however, can be elaborated and structured in a multitude of ways. How the future, then, is attended to also shapes individual experience in and of the present. And, these experiences and attentions themselves shift through time as future imaginaries are continuously re-engaged.
Building on recent attention in psychological anthropology to “moral experience” (Zigon and Throop 2014), the panel collectively aligns with recent thinking that has situated morality as mooded and moods as moral (Throop 2014). In order to do so,the six papers in this panel take on the task of analyzing the complexity of being toward the future— toward the “not yet”, the “almost,” the “what if”—with a focus on its mooded and moral dimensions. Such a task demands attention at the level of everyday experience, and the contributions to this panel hinge on experience-near perspectives, with several advancing phenomenological analyses and methods. However, every paper is also firmly rooted in some of the most pressing macro issues of our time. The papers variously speak to end-of-life decision making, the fall of socialism and the aftermath for individual lives, the dynamic disjuncture between xenophobia and utopias of belonging, the planning of medical infrastructures, and the pending fall of international political and economic agreements. All do with with an attention to how individuals situated within these contexts experience the future in the present, how that experience is morally mooded, and how that both shapes and reflects social life at both the micro and macro levels.
Throop, C.J. . 2014 “Moral Moods.” Ethos 42(1): 65-83.
Zigon, Jarrett and C. Jason Throop, eds. 2014. Moral Experience. Ethos 42:1. Special issue.