I have a workshop on “The concept of crisis and the permanent state of exception” at the GAA Biannual Conference 2015 30.9. – 3.10.2015 at Marburg University. Here is the full text
Crisis is a temporal concept, indicating a turning point (from the Greek krisis). Its use suggests that it alternates with stable states of being-in-the-world that are predictable and calm. Whereas the anthropological literature of the 1950s and 1960s analysed crisis and conflict in congruence with models of harmony, anthropological research in the last decades has emphasised war, violence and trauma as “existential experiences.” In this body of literature, attention has shifted away from understanding “mounting crisis” as a phase in a sequence of events aimed to restore social equilibrium (Turner 1972). Rather, recent approaches discuss the “ontological alienation” of persons whose bonds “to the everyday world have become stretched, distorted, and even torn; sometimes irreparably so” (Lester 2013). Zygmunt Bauman and Carlo Bodoni (2014) have recently classified “the present crisis” as a crisis of agency and of territorial sovereignty. So is crisis a con-cept of particular Western thinking and acting – an expression of modernity? Eric Wolf (1999) approached crisis differently, arguing that crises are part and parcel of social life everywhere and that the distinction between normality and crisis is to a large extent ficti-tious.
Drawing on classical and recent anthropological analyses of crisis for our own research, this workshop seeks to explore the equivalents of the concept from emic points of view. How do our informants conceptualise and word their often precarious ways of living? When do they experience moments of “judgment,” “separation” and “choice” (all syno-nyms of crisis) in their personal lives? And how do their personal or collective “crises” relate to a more permanent state of exception that increasingly presents itself as the dominant paradigm of government in contemporary politics (Agamben 2003)?
Abstracts should be submitted both as a long version (1,200 characters includ-ing spaces max.) and a short version (300 characters including spaces max.). Email me at my university address in Konstanz if you are interested in contributing. Deadline is February 15, 2015.