Public Socialities Beyond Publics and Counterpublics
Proposed Panel for the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association
December 2-6, 2009
In this double-panel, we would like to explore the public socialities that elide the increasingly prominent framework of publics and counterpublics and its focus on circulating text(s) and mediated stranger sociality. Our work in Mexico, Spain, and Latvia shows that many other forms of public social interactions bind people together into socialities which remain or emerge as integral to modern political imaginaries. Thus, for example, the practices of constructing barricades, of reading political street art, or of encountering and engaging others in public space (bus, park, square) are both public and political, yet participation in such collective acts and shared sensory experience take us beyond representational exchanges as mediating frames by which to construct sociality. While not always clearly separable from publics and counterpublics, these practices nevertheless exhibit different temporalities, engage other senses, and create different socialities.
Moreover, even in contexts where the mediated circulation of texts, images, or sounds remains important, we are interested in considering the multiplicity of modes or manners of inhabiting public subjectivities and creating public sociality, including that of publics or counterpublics. How does the material environment, urban space, for example, interpellate particular subjects and public socialities? What kind of public socialities are produced through face-to-face encounters with strangers? How are different modes of public sociality articulated together in particular historical conjunctures? What can an inquiry of public sociality tell us about associated power/knowledge regimes, modes of rule, ethical formations, or political possibilities?
Finally, we would like to explore the relationship between public socialities and traditions, communities, nations, and states. While public socialities and subjectivities conjured up in particular moments are not necessarily consubstantial with such entities, they are nevertheless in constitutive relations with them. While scholarly literature often connects public socialities to national imaginaries, we would like to focus on the specificity of these relationships. That is to say, if an inquiry on communities, traditions, nations, and states often entails questions of inclusion and exclusion, of longing and belonging, what new perspectives can attention to the formation of public sociality bring to these dynamics? What moments of possibility, of openness to different conceptions of social relations (such as neighborliness or conviviality) are constitutive of forms of public sociality beyond publics?
We welcome ethnographically grounded and theoretically innovative papers that reflect a sustained engagement with the conceptual trajectories outlined above. Please submit 250-word abstracts to panel conveners by March 14.
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