Society for Cultural Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Questions about knowledge and more specifically anthropological knowledge have emerged as enduring concerns in recent anthropology. In one strand of this concern, Tim Ingold argues that all the ways of life that anthropologists study are different forms of education of attention. Together with the recent wave of interest in ontological politics, including but not limited to arguments coming from world anthropologies and ‘ontologists’, these growing discussions enable us to further the self-critiques started with the crisis of representation. Engaging with ontological matters promises to address the charge that in spite of the reflexive turn, anthropologists continue to reproduce hegemonic colonial regimes of expertise. Considering how social injustice is underpinned by epistemological injustice (Boaventura de Sousa 2018), I argue this needs to return to being a discipline-wide concern.
In this presentation I draw on my laboratory theatre research and works from philosophy, history, anthropology and education to suggest that by considering anthropological orthopraxy as an education of attention we can historicise what is (ethnocentrically) considered ‘necessary’ for rigour and quality. In order to dismantle what scholars such as Viveiros de Castro have called epistemic colonialism, all and any aspects of the anthropological craft need to be examined. Further, therefore, this is a call for any anthropological studies focusing on ‘attentional regimes’, to recursively consider the assumptions constituting their own technologies of attention.
Finally I also unpack the notion of technology in relation to the question of attention to show how specific understandings of both are closely related.