AAA 2018

This year’s AAA was in wildfire smoke filled Silicon Valley, in San Jose’s vast and echoing convention centres. Nayanika Mathur’s blogpost captures the atmosphere.

I presented on a roundtable called The Ethnographic Effect, convened by Andrea Ballestero and Brit Ross Winthereik. My paper explore the role of drawing in the making of analysis, and will come out as a chapter in an edited volume in 2020.

At this Roundtable we discuss how analysis can be prompted to generate what Marilyn Strathern has called the ethnographic effect (1999), which is the moment where the ethnographer experiences a relation between ‘the understood’ and ‘the need to understand’. We frame the discussion of the material-affective dimensions of analysis through an exploration of the figure of ‘the exercise’. Each roundtable participant will present an exercise they work with showing how they have designed and ‘home-spun’ them in ways that show us the practical ways in which ‘field’ and ‘desk’ are thoroughly intertwined. Discussion will center on the practicalities of the exercises and will be organized as an exploration of the possibilities and limits of working through and meditating over prompts and protocols in analysis. Thus, in the discussion following the presentations, we hope to move participants to consider their own practices of analysis as both more than following a set of instructions and as a practice that nevertheless has a certain structure to it. It is the space in-between that we hope to keep in suspension. In this space anthropological analysis is both techne and craft and has systematics, as well as creative artisanal, and normative parts. Our attention will be on how analysis is recuperation and repurposing of insights that used to be and might become. We will also reflect on the importance of constraint.