Society for Urban, National and Transnational/Global Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Abstract: Recent studies of time and temporality in anthropology have produced a number of different approaches for conceptualizing the relationship between the past, the present, and the future (Gordon 2008; Hartman 2007; Munn 2004; Scott 2014; Stoler 2016; Wilder 2015, et al.). Many of these studies have emerged from engagements with the formerly colonized world, and consider the colonial presence within current structures, institutions, and ideologies while emphasizing the fundamentally “postcolonial character of the contemporary conjuncture” (Watson & Wilder 2018). This panel seeks to consider how we might think ethnographically about several cases that are haunted by the remnants of these colonial formations (Derrida 1994; Mbembe 2017). Further, rather than maintaining a methodological lens entirely facing the past and its aftermath, these papers adopt haunting as an analytical frame oriented towards the future to explore the “somethings-to-be-done” that hauntings inherently produce (Gordon 2008). In this discussion, we ask: How does an anthropological understanding of time help us to understand the structures of power and historical forms of domination that remain in our “postcolonial” present? Where and how do these hauntings manifest? Moreover, what types of responses, practices, and actions do these hauntings precipitate?
Our papers understand the persistence and recurrence of power in time as a springboard towards understanding the modes in which postcolonial logics live on and provoke new movements, ideas, and actions. This panel examines cases from Nigeria, Palestine, the Indian Ocean and the U.S. South to highlight the range of places situated within these temporal durabilities. Our papers seek to address a series of questions, in order to theorize how present social, political, and economic climates are haunted by past ones, including: How are practices traditionally associated with colonial rule, particularly related to labor, debt, and security, being reanimated in the contemporary period? What types of movements, discourses, laws, and texts are awakening from within “ruined” political and material landscapes? How do hauntings become embodied and conjure memory, legacy, and action?