Society for Cultural Anthropology
Society for Humanistic Anthropology
Cosponsored - Oral Presentation Session
There are many ways to be in the world and one dominating the humanities and social sciences is a weary, anxious self-condemnation called the Anthropocene. It has become a thing to which some reorient themselves and around which some debate (is it too humanist? Is it racist?); it is an apparatus for addressing climate change, but at the same time it has captured us in its night and fog.
Enchantment, and its correlate hope, offers a way out, but not if it is perceived as darkness’s other. Rather than a counterproposal that similarly thingifies the matters of life, nonlife and death, enchantment can be found as a qualia of matter (among other qualia, like darkness) and their milieu (Stengers).
This paper tells a story that takes place in rural Iceland about a person’s thin attachment (Kasmani) not only to other humans, but also oneself and the mossy majesty of the hills, including life itself. Just as there are many ways to live, there are many ways to die. All of them are performances of the middle, rather than thing-moments that stand outside, distorting the formlessness and potential of being and tooling the middle.
Anthropology in and of the middle is a methodology that resists the fabrication of fixed objects and morbid attachments.