Loading…
Friday, November 2 • 11:00am - 12:30pm
2.F. Soups for the Anthropological Subconscious

Log in to save this to your schedule and see who's attending!

PANEL. Soups for the Anthropological Subconscious

This panel brings into ongoing conversation three writers working in the permeable, multi- directional membrane of the purported critical/creative divide. Two in the flesh (Thompson and Garcia), and a third via pre-recorded video (Taussig). With special attention to the way in which poetic and mimetic modes trouble anthropological flashpoints in fetish, kinship, archive, ritual, play, and magic, each will present a dense fragment of fictocritical work peeking at life through the poetic logics of surrealisms past and present. Following the opening salvo of the conference prompt, announcing the approaching centennial of Breton’s Manifesto, we take as our framing device a constellation of temporal signposts, along with their residues, reverberations, remainders, and resilient subsumptions, which together speak to the discursive waters in which surrealism, literature, and anthropology flash like stars beneath us: the 30th anniversary of James Clifford’s The Predicament of Culture (with its seminal essay “On Ethnographic Surrealism”), the 50th anniversary of the publication of Malinowski’s diaries (an event through which anthropology discovered its subconscious), the 50th anniversary of the protests of 1968, the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, the 170th anniversary of the European revolutions of 1848, all reaching back to the 200th anniversary of the twin births of Karl Marx and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. We imagine this ensemble of readings, analyses, and audiovisual conjurations—which explore surrealist murk in the Americas, Africa, and Southeast Asia, dark stars all of the so-called Global South—as a polyphonic performance masquerading as a conference panel. At the conclusion of the performative portion, Thompson and Garcia—with Taussig as a remote, yet never too-distant interlocutor—will engage in critical dialogue about the nexus of ethical, aesthetic, and political concerns that compel them to hazard the risks (and joys) of pursuing distinctly surrealist fictocritical work in the face of the increasingly rigid strictures of neoliberal academe.

Rachel Thompson will present a fragment from her film Extinction Number Six (2011)—which tracks an eccentric narrator’s quixotic search for the material traces of Java’s colonial, mystical, and paleontological past—before reading from a work-in-progress that picks up where Extinction leaves off. In Meat Bag, Thompson attempts metabolize, to assimilate through soup, a bag of sacrificial cow meat—gifted, once removed, on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, by a reviled/revered former Indonesian military general and failed presidential hopeful now wagering a comeback fueled by fear, wherein he purports to divine Indonesia’s imminent dissolution from a single line within the American sci-fi novel Ghost Fleet.  

Edgar Garcia will perform from his forthcoming work, Skins of Columbus: An Ethnography of Colonial Dreamlands (Fence Books, 2019), in which he uses his dreams to journey the landscapes and living history of the deep myth of colonial power in the Americas, the journals of Christopher Columbus. Skins of Columbus is an ethnological collection of objects, poems, essays, collages, and family stories that documents those dreamlands.
 
Michael Taussig, via pre-recorded video, will read from his latest work Palma Africana (University of Chicago Press, 2018), an avowedly serpentine, phantasmagorical text that creeps alongside, and at times merges with its object of inquiry: the ecocidal incursion of Colombia’s latest commodity fetish, Elaeis guineensis, or African oil palm. Steeped in decades of ethnographic and philosophical attention to the conflicting cultural narratives forged in the wake of violent colonial encounter, Taussig’s latest text enacts, once again, an explicit confrontation with “the fiction of the real,” modeling what it might mean to write in a fictocritical key—through, with, and against dense clouds of epistemic murk.


Rachel Thompson
Harvard University


Edgar Garcia
The University of Chicago


Michael Taussig (via pre-recorded video)
Columbia University

Speakers
EG

Edgar Garcia

University of Chicago
RT

Rachel Thompson

Harvard University

Chairs
RT

Rachel Thompson

Harvard University


Friday November 2, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm
Room F. Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Large Seminar Room (first floor)