This panel, "Vulnerability's Ethical Engagements and Traces" is for the AAA 2011 Conference in Montreal, Canada. It addresses what it means to think about vulnerability as a form of ethical engagement over time. Vulnerability is often understood as a condition of defenselessness to surrounding environments. Anthropology’s recent engagements around vulnerability tend toward ethnographies of violence, conflict, or disaster. At stake for anthropology in these contexts is an understanding of how societies and people re-establish coherency and normalcy to social routine, institutional structures, or social psyches after experiencing distressing events. These ethnographic engagements offer illuminating analyses into the ways in which power, life, and social order may be reproduced or cut-off.
But there is a different usage of the term vulnerability which this panel explores. Vulnerability can also attend to sentiments of openness for varying sorts of ethical engagements between: nature and society; politics and aesthetics; and humans and nonhumans. This panel examines how it is that vulnerability is a sentiment that calls for ethical engagements of openness--exchange, transmission, innovation, and experimentation across presumed boundaries of identity and cultural practice. We also ask how these engagements become inscribed into nature, everyday life, bodies, landscapes, and textual and material artifacts over time. That this panel seeks to understand how vulnerability constitutes ethical engagements over time points us in the direction of asking how vulnerability’s meaning has the capacity to shift, refract, or mutate. What is the relationship between vulnerability and nature? What does vulnerability look, smell, sound, or feel like? Who or what has the capacity to define vulnerability? Why and in what circumstances can vulnerability be remembered or forgotten? In what script, emotive, or material form can vulnerability leave its mark? What does it mean or entail to be vulnerable to others? We are especially interested in papers that elucidate how vulnerability can be used to rearrange relations across and within environmental, aesthetic, legal, scientific-epistemological, ethnic-racial, or specious boundaries.
To be considered, please submit a paper title, 250-word abstract, and affiliation information by March 13th, 2011. Proposals and questions can be sent to Sarah E. Vaughn (firstname.lastname@example.org). Kindly circulate this call for papers among others who might be interested.
Sarah E. Vaughn
Columbia University, Department of Anthropology
Email: email@example.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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