On Strategic Paranoia

Glocol Seminar 106 @ Suita, Osaka University

Time: Tuesday, November 5, 2013, 16:30-18:30
Place: Alumnus Union Building (Icho Kaikan) of Osaka University, Medical School
ABSTRACT: Today, more than two decades after the onset of the 1990s wars in former Yugoslavia, many people in Serbia feel no happier with local, European and world politics. After a short-lived period of economic growth and political stability, the country has returned to a state of dissatisfaction and uncertainty. Many want to demystify and confront wartime nationalism, which is increasingly felt as a historical and political burden. Yet they often resist the manner in which they feel that some projects of reconciliation and of European integration are being forced upon them. Their suspicion is that such projects hide hidden agendas. Tensions arise between these two simultaneous needs, for self-reflection on and criticism of the country’s history on the one hand, and for a freedom to contest the perceived public denigration of Serbia, on the other. In such a context, certain past events as well as predictions of the future are interpreted through various conspiratorial narratives. Paranoid claims seems to serve as an organising device through which certain social conditions and predicaments are evaluated. The paper proposes to analyse what might be termed ‘auto poetic and strategic paranoid observations’ through coming to terms with the manner, or the rhetorical style, in which they are uttered. The manner is one of exaggeration. Importantly, paranoid worldviews, that exaggerate in order to attest specific historical events and their logic, at least on the subjective level, have a political purchase in contemporary Serbia denied to more rational forms of discourse.


Session at the 112th AAA Annual Meeting @ Chicago

Reviewed By: Society for Cultural Anthropology
Time: Wednesday, November 20, 2013: 2:00 PM-3:45 PM
Place: Joliet Room (Chicago Hilton)
ABSTRACT: How do our bodies make worlds? How do people shape the horizons of their practices, knowledges, and social relations, not only through physical toil and mental exertion, but through the sensitivities, mobilities, and partial permeabilities of human bodies? Papers in this panel will contend with these questions through the analytic of ‘worlding’ (Zhan 2009, 2012). Through their focus on ‘worlding’ the papers in this panel critically analyze totalizing narratives of the body and of humanity, by attending to makings and crossings of borders between human and non-human, discursive and embodied, and the local and global. With worlding, we see the worlds of human experience not in terms of convergence and closure, but dissemination and proliferation. Bodies do not simply occupy worlds: they partially create them, and never quite in their own image. Swerving away from the ‘image’ to other senses, and from worlds to worldings, this panel explores other bodily metaphors and modalities as loci of worlding. We ask: How do bodies create the social and material worlds they inhabit? How do pre-discursive or embodied experiences structure social relations? How are sensory experiences made into objects of scientific knowledge? How are embodied experiences mediated by medical knowledges and actors? How are worlds and bodies re-shaped when people “act with things” (Ishii 2012) in nature and the environment? The papers of this panel explore these questions in North America and Asia among asthma patients, sufferers of diabetes, cryonicists, wearable technology researchers, and spirit mediums. These papers ethnographically demonstrate the variety and open-endedness of different worldings. Collectively, they show that “the worlds we inhabit are by no means finite— and neither are social inquiries into these worlds” (Zhan 2009, 24). Conversely, they also show how people apprehend the infinity of possible worldings through the finitude of their bodies (Foucault 1966). Furthermore, this panel explores how anthropologists productively negotiate the gap between their written and spoken performance of knowledge, and the visceral, embodied, sensory experiences which they attempt to capture. Papers in this panel will explore how our interlocutors and we as anthropologists negotiate the material-discursive entanglements of the body and its embodiments; humans and their various others; visceral sensations and mediated perceptions; and words and worlds.”