Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for the Anthropology of Religion
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students
Primary Theme: Immigration/Migration/Citizenship
Secondary Theme: Race
In this panel, we aim to build on literature pertaining to the construction of publics and counterpublics (Fraser 1990, Warner 2002, Hirschkind 2006) through a focus on the concept of “precarity.” In anthropology, precarity has been an important concept to query the ways in which the material conditions concomitant with late capitalism, or more specifically “neoliberalism,” engender feelings, attitudes, and sensibilities of uncertainty and indeterminacy. Here, we aim to open up an ethnographic and theoretical space for considering how not only late capitalism, but also the affective and material conditions produced by regimes of national security, the uncertainties of migration, the circulation of media forms, and state-sanctioned violence make “precarity” possible. Furthermore, we consider how certain precarious material and affective conditions elicit particular responses among marginalized religious communities, as well as how these responses enable publics or counterpublics to arise. In this regard, this panel aims to probe a series of questions at the intersection of precarity, publics, and religious and/or ethical life, including: which institutions and which modalities of power engender precarity? How does precarity circulate? What are the effects of precarity on marginalized religious communities and their ways of life? How do feelings of precarity inform the discursive and/or embodied responses to various political and religious/ethical contexts in which these marginalized communities find themselves in? How are lifeworlds reimagined in light of such embodied experiences of precarity? By taking up these questions in relation to several contexts—national security in the US, the persecution of Sikhs in India, Berber activism in Morocco, and Pentecostal responses to neoliberal constructions of risk and violence in El Salvador—we aim to consider how precarity not only disables certain ways of life, but also, how it makes possible the formation of various publics and counterpublics that shape the discursive and embodied possibilities of everyday life in late modernity.