We're organizing a panel entitled Cartographies of Belonging: Materiality, Circulation, and the Production of Political Subjectivity for the 2009 AAA meeting in Philadelphia, PA. Pasted below is the panel abstract. If you are interested in participating in this panel please send your paper abstract (250 words max) and affiliation to Sarah Ives (email@example.com) for review by no later than March 20, 2009.
Sarah Ives, Alexandra Kelly, and Lisa Poggiali
Department of Anthropology, Stanford University
Cartographies of Belonging: Materiality, Circulation, and the Production of Political Subjectivity
The boundaries of "nation" and "empire" have often been drawn because of – not in spite of – the circulation of people, objects, and ideas. "Cartographies of belonging," in other words, are mapped in and through processes of material and symbolic exchange over space and time. Taking these ideas as our point of departure, this panel will examine how notions of the "political" are produced, reconfigured, and contested through entanglements between people, objects, and imaginaries. Our focus on person/object relations bridges the gap between socio-cultural anthropology and archaeology, and we are invested in advancing an interdisciplinary dialogue on these themes. We will explore a range of topics, from the colonial ivory trade between Africa and Europe to the political economy of South African rooibos tea to the circulation of "Dubai" as an object of desire and dreams amongst urban Kenyans. Drawing on theories of production, consumption, and materiality, this panel engages with theorists such as Lefebvre, Barthes, Benjamin, Mauss, and Baudrillard. These thinkers, whose explanatory potential has been largely overlooked in non-European contexts, help us to connect ideas about the politics of materiality and the politics of power. For example, what can Baudrillard's notion of symbolic exchange, Barthes's idea of mythscapes, Mauss's relational understanding of material culture, and Lefebvre's concepts of social space and le vie quotidienne lend us in a conversation about materiality, imagination, transnational political subjectivity, and belonging? How do specific objects become associated with particular "biographies," sentiments, and desires? What new theoretical and methodological interventions might provide a more precise grammar for speaking about the movement of people and things? We take these questions as a starting point and hope to include panelists from socio-cultural anthropology and archaeology who work in a variety of regional contexts.
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