Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: American Ethnological Society
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students
Primary Theme: Ethics
Secondary Theme: Persistence
As the Anthropology of Morality and Ethics has developed in the last few decades (Laidlaw 2002; Das 2007; Fassin et al 2015; Keane 2015; Lambek 2010; Mattingly 2012), it has allowed for a better understanding of moral worlds and ethical work at a number of different scales, from the level of interpersonal interactions to broader notions of mass media and the circulation of discourses. A next step in the theoretical investigation of ethics leads us to turn our attention to the dimension of time; to that end, this session explores the mutual absorption of temporal and ethical formations in worldbuilding (Zigon 2014, 2017). Temporalization comprises a critical piece in social actors’ ability to contextualize historical events, take agentive action, and concoct a sense of shared moral subjectivity from which to build ethical selves. As cultural participants grow in age, experience, and responsibility, so too does their imbrication in multiple relationships across various social spheres, requiring a simultaneous attunement to various time spans. Ethical stances also of necessity always draw from some past and point to some future possibility, rooting the decisions of everyday life and overarching moral values in time. This collection of research examines the nature of ethical temporalities from a number of different perspectives: phenomenological, affective, performative, and political. On the one hand, these papers address the ways in which disjunctures and moments of moral breakdown transform experiences of time. On the other hand, these papers explore the everyday, micro-scale temporalities found in utterances and interactions as subjects cultivate ethical worlds. They also examine the new terrain of resistance that opens in time and space when structural barriers limit marginalized people’s political actions. In this sense, this session also highlights how temporalities of resistance emerge in tension with temporalities of governance and open up new alternative modes of politics. The case studies from Northern Ireland, Sweden, Tonga, Turkey, and the United States presented here build upon current understandings of the “ethical turn” and lend additional insight into how overlapping timescales and temporal perspectives inflect the unfolding of ethical practices. Ideas of change and temporal gradients are inherently linked in the anthropological imagination, as frustrations, adaptations, and transformations are always already emergent over time. Thus, this session takes up the challenge of the AAA meeting theme by exploring how ethical worldbuilding affects human abilities of resistance, resilience, and adaptation at various scales and senses of temporalization.