Knowledge and Philosophy
Waiting is a ubiquitous phenomenon. We all wait – in traffic jams, queues, for better weather, peace. It could be said that waiting is integral to the fabric of human life. Waiting is a particular engagement in, and with, time. The various modes of waiting can range from a passive or inert waiting to a purposeful or active waiting for something. In other words, the concept of waiting allows us to explore ethnographically what forms of thinking, acting, and relating are possible, or overlooked, in different engagements in, and with, time.
The co-edited volume Ethnographies of Waiting: Doubt, Hope and Uncertainty (Janeja, M.K. and A.Bandak 2018) explores the social phenomenon of waiting and its centrality in human society. The book investigates how modes of waiting are negotiated in myriad ways. The central claim is that the phenomenon of waiting must be conceptualized as a figure in its own right as well as a trigger for various forms of social energies. Waiting, it is therefore argued, must be scrutinized in relation to the central figures of hope, doubt, and uncertainty. Waiting thus conceived is intrinsic to the ethnographic method at the heart of the anthropological enterprise. Examining the politics and poetics of waiting, the book offers fresh perspectives on waiting as the uncertain interplay between doubting and hoping, and asks, "When is time worth the wait?" This is examined through themes such as urban housing, migration, religion, dying, boredom, and innovation, across varying social and cultural contexts, in Asia and beyond.