frank davis memorial lecture series

Resistance and Interpretation: Disciplinary Perspectives

Resisting Culture, Embracing Life: Anthropology Beyond Humanity

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

17.30 - 18.30, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

black and white drawing of points, lines and squiggles by kandinsky
Diagram 17 from Kandinsky's essay Point and Line to Plane, originally published in 1926 as Punkt und Linie zu Fläche, and subequently in English by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 1947. (Source: Dover reprint of 1979)

Speaker(s): Timothy Ingold (Professor of Social Anthropology and Head of the School of Social Science, University of Aberdeen)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Dr Francesco Lucchini

The modern concept of humanity expresses the existential dilemma of a creature that can know itself, and the world of which it is a part, only by separating itself off from that world. This separation has long validated both the project of anthropology, as the comparative study of diverse forms of culture underwritten by the unity of human nature, and, more generally, the disciplines of the arts and humanities as opposed to the natural sciences. In this lecture Professor Ingold argues that the divided constitution of humanity, of anthropology and of the academy as a whole has been the major line of resistance to achieving a holistic and participatory understanding of the conditions and potentials of human life in the one world we all inhabit. He takes the achievement of such understanding to be the true task of anthropology. Its realisation will call not only for the redrawing of anthropology, as a practice of 'togethering' rather than othering, but also for a rethinking of the concept of the academic discipline – as a convergence of lines of interest rather than a bounded field of study. More fundamentally, it requires us to re-conceptualise the human as a being defined not by innate or acquired attributes but by relational accomplishment.

Tim Ingold has carried out ethnographic fieldwork among Saami and Finnish people in Lapland, and has written extensively on comparative questions of environment, technology and social organisation in the circumpolar North, as well as on evolutionary theory in anthropology, biology and history, on the role of animals in human society, and on issues in human ecology. His recent research interests are in the anthropology of technology and in aspects of environmental perception. He is currently writing and teaching on the comparative anthropology of the line, and on issues on the interface between anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture. His latest book, Lines: A Brief History, was published by Routledge in 2007.

This series proposes a range of ways of approaching the specific resistance found in objects of enquiry, calling attention to the ways in which contemporary scholarship attends to the conditions that set up resistances with respect to disciplinary investigation. Distinguished scholars from different disciplinary traditions are invited to consider how the notion of resistance is dealt with in their field of research and reflect on the ways in which material and cultural factors inhibit or disturb smooth assimilation of artefacts and cultural activities into theory and predetermined categories of interpretation.

Sponsored by the FM Kirby Foundation

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