Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
Oral Presentation Session
Abstract: Discussions on human struggle have a tendency to understand and analyze this concept in terms of crises that provoke colossal change. This approach, however, does not give adequate attention to everyday forms of human struggle that confront, adjust to, adapt to, and sometimes even overcome dominant powers. Struggles can be imagined by those involved as either positive or negative, in the sense that they “can be devastating, depressing, anxious, uncertain, filled with resignation or indignation”, but also may be “creative, empowering, stimulating, inspiring and arousing” (Threadgold, 2018:22). Furthermore, struggles can be characterized as “routine and boring” or “spontaneous and novel”. For this reason, we consider struggle to be representative of “the day-to-day challenges and choices we all face and deal with along the trajectory of our lives.” (ibid) This panel aims to bring together papers that address different forms of everyday struggles that are related to memory and identity in local-global encounters from a range of geographical areas. As human beings, we constantly bear the weight of both memory and identity. Thus, rather than studying struggles with memory and identity as results of a momentary crisis, as anthropologists we can also develop an understanding of struggle as everyday forms of living. More specifically, we intend to address ways of being that struggle to challenge dominant (often official) narratives in their attempts to redefine “self” and thus, group relationship with an “other”, as well as struggles over ethnic and gender identities that serve both as a privilege and a target of negative stereotypes. By juxtaposing these various everyday forms of struggle and contextualizing them in local-global encounters, this panel strives to bring forth fresh understandings on how the communities with whom we work negotiate memory and identity in relation to the multiple scales of power dynamics in the contemporary global climate. In doing so, we encourage reflections on how anthropologists’ involvement in such struggles can foster positive change for these communities.
Threadgold, S. (2018). Youth, Class and Everyday Struggles. New York: Routledge.