Society for Cultural Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Abstract: This panel examines the concept of "potentiality" vis-a-vis forms of structural violence. Potentialities emerge in the present through processes of innovation and failure, creation and destruction, and nearly always depend on unquantifiable memories of the past and schemes for the future. By examining examples of technological, media, human services and environmental interventions from diverse contexts, this panel will explore what it means to operate under, create within, and prepare for conditions of potentiality. Put more simply, conditions where what might be and what will never be are impossible to determine. Specifically, these papers will all address how potentiality is acted upon in ways that circumvent or supplement state sanctioned violences, questioning how certain forms of governance preclude or necessitate people working through potentialities.
Specifically, papers in this panel will trace relationships between structural violence and embodied distress, questioning how different forms of marginalization—or potential marginalization—result in reconfigured relationships between bodies and environments. How do we respond to nebulous threats to safety? How do we attempt to engineer control over precarious circumstances and mitigate risk through everyday practices? And how are these questions further complicated when this is done through adoptions of new media and technology? Taking up these questions through topics of mass media, environmental toxicity, disability, and religious community formation, among others, this panel will speak to what it means to visualize, navigate and create boundaries between what is possible and impossible. Furthermore, it will probe how simultaneously taking into account both sides of potentiality—the what will be and what will never be—enacts forms of embodied violence.