Edges of Forms, Rhythms of Hesitation (AAA 11/2010) Deadline: 3/26/10

full name / name of organization: 
Stephanie Sadre-Orafai
contact email: 

Proposed Session, American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, November 17-21, 2010
Co-Organizers: Christina Moon (Yale University) and Stephanie
Sadre-Orafai (New York University)

From Appadurai's "flows" and Clifford's "routes" to Lee and Li Puma's "cultures of circulation," anthropologists have adapted prescient theories of value to address the increasingly mobile and globalized nature of the discipline's subjects. As Gaonkar and Povinelli remind us, however, in attending to circulation, we must also focus on forms, or the shapes that social and cultural imaginaries take in objects, figures, representations, and patterns of interaction. An ethnography of forms, they write, requires an "analytic bifocality [that] is method as much as theory . . . [and] insists on an almost neurotic attentiveness to the edges of forms as they circulate" (2003: 392). They advocate for an interest in power over meaning, transfiguration over translation, and understanding circulation as the enabling matrix through which forms come to be recognized and valued as such. In this panel we take up their call to study "the edges of form," while adding to it a critical dimension: hesitation.

Hesitation: a moment of pause, an act of lingering, or delay. We are interested in exploring ethnographic moments of hesitation amidst global flows of forms and the kinds of methodological, analytical, and representational changes they demand. Seeking out the more nuanced dimensions of these circulations, transfigurations, and moments of recognition, we focus on the ephemeral practices of migrants, brokers, and creative professionals, among others, as they drive and give shape to these wider circuits. Whether ritualized interactions, editorial
moments, habitual practices, or materialized intimacies, how can we write and analyze these dimensions of social practice that are too often eclipsed in circulation-centered narratives? How can we
complicate the overdetermined trajectory of these movements to explore these interactions as spaces of agency and cultural possibility? We seek papers that hesitate, capturing these delicate, elusive maneuvers that have their own rhythms, textures, and scales, as well as papers that reflect on this process.

We invite paper submissions that explore aesthetic, sensual, and
intimate registers of social interactions and seek out different ways of recording, analyzing, and theorizing ethnographic moments of hesitation.

* Methodologically, how do we arrive at hesitations?
* What strategies or modes of expression encapsulate both the
intangible and palpability of forms in hesitation?
* How does an exploration into the edges of forms demand hesitation?
* What are the aesthetic, sensual, and intimate registers of social
interactions that are well-suited to this type of analysis? How are
they related to larger global flows?
* How does hesitation allow for moments of cultural possibility and agency? What is the importance of documenting these moments through time?
* Why do these sites, subjects, and theoretical and methodological
approach require a different kind of writing? And how is this way of writing intimately linked to this theoretical and methodological

Please send abstracts (250 words) for 15-minute papers and a brief bio or cv to Christina Moon (christina.moon[at]yale.edu) and Stephanie Sadre-Orafai (sso212[at]nyu.edu) by Friday, March 26, 2010. Selected participants will be notified by Monday, March 29, 2010. All accepted presenters must join AAA and register for the conference by April 1, 2010.

Reference Cited
Gaonkar, DP & EA Povinelli. 2003. Technologies of Public Forms: Circulation, Transfiguration, Recognition. Public Culture 15(3): 385-397.

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