Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Cultural Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students
Primary Theme: Race
Secondary Theme: Science
The face, in Western culture, tends to be understood as a privileged site of individuality. In that sense, it is elevated as a universal signifier of subjectivity. At the same time, however, the face is also always already a mask: a racially overcoded entity (Fanon 1952, Deleuze and Guattari 1980). Face, then, is always janus-faced, confronting us both with sameness and difference, as well as with individuals and populations. We understand this janus-faced character of face to not simply be a matter of political theory, but also as a pragmatic and empirical component of various face- and race-making practices. Think, for instance, of racialized modes of generating suspect’s phenotypes in DNA phenotyping. Or think of the way population metrics inform facial recognition software.
In this panel, we seek contributions that situate these dynamics between face and race empirically and pragmatically. That is, we are interested in contributions that take seriously the way the face oscillates between being a marker of individuality versus a metric of populations. In doing so, we aim to complicate binary understandings of face as a technique of universalization or racialization, and rather seek to understand how face and race come to be enacted in practices.