Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
You: an anthropologist. Me: also an anthropologist. I bumped into you near the booth of a university press. You were holding a book by Simmel. I told you “The Metropolis and Mental Life” (1903) convinced me to study people. Our eyes met, then I hurried to a friend’s panel.
If this sounds familiar, I would love to discuss animation, the city, and strange encounters with you. I’m giving a talk that considers Craigslist’s Missed Connections, along with similar personals ads focused on chance meetings. I use theories of projection from animation (Silvio 2010) and theater (Meyerhold 1969, Lemon 2018) to understand missed connections as acts that unfold not only between two people, but with the collaboration of commuters, readers, markets, and infrastructures. I examine how missed connections transform the stranger (Simmel 1950) into a possible lover, making mundane urban spaces into social fields rich with possibility. While looking at infrastructures of daily commute as classic sites for missed connections, I note efforts to capitalize on romantic hope through marketing strategies, such as a chewing gum campaign. Commercial spaces, such as cafes and fitness centers, emerge as nodes for random meeting in North American cities with declining infrastructure. This paper studies missed connections as a narrative genre that thrives on what didn’t happen, but what might have happened. Readers to fill in gaps, incompleteness provoking engagement (Parkin 2000).
You looked kind and intelligent. Perhaps I’ll find your face in the crowd?