Society for Psychological Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
How do images offer resources for thinking? How are they a form of thinking? How might they prompt us to un-think our own certainties? How might they challenge categories? Such questions are central to this panel and have already been provocatively posed by, for example, Stevenson (2014) and Desjarlais (2018). I will put them in conversation with critical phenomenology. I have proposed to consider critical phenomenology, at least in its most radical form, as an experience-near process of concept destabilization (Mattingly 2019). I build upon Arendt’s intriguing formulation: thinking is a form of experience that disquiets concepts. She calls this ‘defrosting.’ I suggest that perplexing particulars hold this kind of disruptive defrosting potential, helping us awaken and destabilize our own canonical theories. In this paper, drawing upon fieldwork among African American grandmothers, I ask: how might imagistic portrayals of the precarious, aging body disturb rather than merely confirm well established doxa surrounding structural violence? How might perplexing particulars disquiet our own anthropological gaze in ways that deepen and enrich our concepts?