Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Cultural Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Ethics
Secondary Theme: Resilience
This panel explores various lived understandings of the notion of healing, regeneration and rebirth (Barker 1991; Guyer 2017). By focusing on the cases where life - in ideologically, politically, environmentally, economically, biomedically trying and exhausting times - seems to flourish against the odds, we reflect on hope, the good and imagination of futures. In contrast to the definition of regeneration in the natural sciences as an autogenous process based on organisms’ innate regenerative potentialities, many processes of social or ecological regeneration require the introduction of external elements (Vilaça 2010). These can stimulate a return to life after crisis or disaster. But as Henri-Georges Clouzot powerfully illustrates in the postwar film Retour à la vie (1949), the return to life can be traumatic, messy, and prone to failure, challenging the optimism of utopian visions of resurgence.
Conscious of the weight of the passage of time and its transformative capacities, the papers explore the moral and practical entanglements that processes of regeneration entail. These may include discussions of the tensions and contradictions produced by visions or projects for the future that aim to return to idealised past or previous states; the resonances of a life which returns against the odds; the role of ecological processes and the passage of time in soothing and healing social tensions; the ritual dimensions of catharsis, sacrifice, and the relationship between death and the regeneration of life (Jeffrey and Rotter 2016; Bloch and Parry 1982; Tsing 2015). In which settings or conditions can life begin anew or be revived? How do people living in times fraught with notions of crisis, precarity and violence view and practice 'better' and 'new' lives and selves? How do they think the notions of ‘care’, ‘trust’, ‘responsibility’ and ‘creativity’ on an individual and collective level? How do they imagine their future? How do they use their feelings and perceptions to order the present and to bring a more trusting and responsible future into being? What difference do contexts that are often simultaneously precarious, depressing and restrictive make to the psychology of creativity and risk taking? Participants are encouraged to offer insights into the ways in which contemporary demands of the present and visions of the future are valued, confronted, transformed, or transcended.
Barker, P. 1991. Regeneration. London: Viking
Bloch, M. and J. Parry 1982. Death and the regeneration of life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Clouzot, H-G. 1949. Le retour de Jean. In H-G. Clouzot, A. Cayatte, G. Lampin, J. Dréville (dir.) Le retour à la vie. Les films Marceau (Paris).
Guyer, J. 2017. Aftermaths and recuperations in anthropology. Hau 7 (1): 81–103.
Jeffrey, L. and R. Rotter 2016. ‘Sustenance, nourishment, and cultivation: plants as living cultural heritage for dispersed Chagossians in Mauritius, Seychelles, and the UK’. JRAI 22, 296-313
Tsing, A. 2015. The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton: Princeton.
Vilaça, A. 2010. Strange Enemies: Indigenous Agency and Scenes of Encounters in Amazonia. Durham: Duke.