Session 1.2.4: PANEL: Witching Ethno-Poetics and Wild Sensoriums

PANEL: Witching Ethno-Poetics and Wild Sensoriums
11:30, Thursday 6 May 2021 (1 hour 30 minutes)
Break   01:00 PM to 01:30 PM (30 minutes)
  Virtual session
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Organizer: Luke James LeoKernan, University of Victoria, Canada

Ethnographers and cultural practitioners can and have themselves become bewitched and mesmerized by their chosen fieldsites, the multisensory flows of meaning that are guided by the crisp register of detail mid life; these affective and sensory engagements ground us in the erotic embodiment of what it means to connect, to be human. Such that, these residual relationalities, hauntings even, are scribbled within the notes and marginalia of our journals. Our secrets… Ever-impressing inward, until they are at once ritualized and purged into poems and spoken-word assemblages—to resonate (and process their governing traces). We want to then address the cathartic need to be poetic in anthropology and other allied practices. The magic of our ecstatic words in these field contexts draws us as poet-ethnographers ever closer and towards a vital sense of being-in-the-world—to ingratiate our subjectivities to the more-ness of life within the performative edge-worlds and the improvisational plateaus of communication that break ontological barriers. We look to use poetry as a tool for re-wilding our sensoriums in the very self-reflexive task of knowing ourselves to better serve and relate to the fieldsites and communities we find ourselves hosted in. We will bind this spell of time in performance.

Luke James Leo Kernan, Ghosting our steps —Toward a hauntological poetics of Other-WISE-ness, University of Victoria, Canada

Our field-sites and our lives as anthropologists and subject-affirming advocates intermesh in the betweenness of exchange and experience, the locality and ultimately the multiplicity of us. And, to feel wholly just and wholly ourselves means that we struggle to find avenues to fluidly embrace the haunted-ness of our collective existence. At once and with courage, we can see that the star-struck difficulty and the immense reward of trans-cultural work comes from the interior depth, wick, and bandwidth of our liminalities and self-reflexive moments; the marginalia and the other-WISE-ness that speaks. And, in one breath, haunts and undoes our minds as we tinker in the dark for answers. In working through and with our hauntings and field-sites, we find spaces of poetry and emotion—the elastic and elusive sense of the ineffable. I wish then to open-up anthropology to these imaginative points, to cultivate an other-WISE-ness as a productive alternity and a worldmaking practice in shaping new subject relationalities. Through the ritual of poetic performance, of awe-articulated breathing sung, I desire to explore how creativity and its multisensory vitalities can attend to loss, death, and madness within trans-cultural frameworks to affirm resilience beset against the rawness of violence and human suffering.

Alexandra D.Sastrawati, Imaginative compositions on opacity, Princeton University, USA

In Singapore, queer performance poetry creates a space for transgressive worldmaking where cultural expressions of urban marginality are allowed but only on certain legal conditions. As with queerness, there is a hide-and-seek theme in depression narratives. To avoid erasure and invisibility on the one hand, or hypervisibility and stigma on the other, my interlocutors engage in a dialectic of opacity and visibility and express this mode of thought: I want to be seen but I also don’t want to expose myself. The following questions animate my ethnographic sensorium: How might we read forms of opacity? How do we read what is invisible and insensible? What sort of information do redactions and opaque forms refract and reveal about social life? How might we understand sites of violence which generate and express such forms? When thrown in the unknown and not-knowing, and when surrendering to the arcana of imponderable things, the ethnographer’s imaginative compositions may speak with, as opposed to speak for, ethnographic subjects and their figures of thought. My compositions, written with and experienced within my field site’s opacity, explore this space of knowledge co-production and collaboration that goes beyond the ethnographic gaze.

Sabrina Scott, (Be)Witching Autoethnography: The poetics of becoming-with in contemporary magic, York University, Canada

Contemporary North American urban witches often perceive their methodologies of practice as inviting co-participation with human and nonhuman bodies, intertwining the visible and the invisible. They both think through and be/come with what communities of human and nonhuman bodies may look like in practice (not simply in theory). What might these collaborative relationships and becomings look like, feel like? Part poetic spoken-word performance, part magical ritual, this intervention involves sound, light, and scent. A deeply sincere autoethnographic rendering of contemporary urban witchcraft, I sit and sound and speak in the liminal space between doctoral studies in the philosophy of science, and twenty years as a practicing witch, enlivening the academy with rituals of bewitchment.

Princeton University
University of Victoria

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