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SEMINAR: Anthropology and Sociology Seminar Series - Psychic unity, empathy and shared aspects of personhood: Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in the field

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Anthropology and Sociology Seminar Series - Psychic unity, empathy and shared aspects of personhood: Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in the field : Anthropology and Sociology Seminar Series Other events...
Psychic unity is a fraught concept in anthropology and related fields, yet, I argue, even those of us who doubt the existence of a shared human nature carry an expectation of it into the field. (Or, I might add, into almost any interaction with someone who is not our self.) Empathy, which necessarily depends on a degree of psychic unity, has long been a critical tool for doing ethnography though our recognition of this fact comes and goes in the anthropological canon. Can we, as Clifford Geertz once did, dismiss the empathy we draw upon as we strive to understand other ways of being and experience as merely our projections onto an ‘Other’ that by their very nature entirely miss the mark? Or is it an empathy that connects in some ways with the known, the familiar? In this experientialist approach to personhood, I draw on an example of emotion talk from the remote Aboriginal community of Numbulwar to begin exploring my intuition that the women I know there are, in spite of our difference, very much like me. In this effort, I am largely guided by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s ideas about primary metaphors and the bodily experiences that underlie them. I focus, in particular, on an Aboriginal woman’s experience of anger and shame, and on why I think I can understand not just what is being said to me but something of the experience behind what is being said.
Speaker(s) Professor Victoria Burbank Anthropology and Sociology UWA
Location Asian Studies Seminar Room G.25 Social Sciences Building
Contact <[email protected]> 64887249
Start Fri, 08 Aug 2014 11:00
End Fri, 08 Aug 2014 12:00
Submitted by Emily Buckland <[email protected]>
Last Updated Tue, 05 Aug 2014 16:26
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