João de Pina-Cabral: Things into Objects: Care and Activism in Austerity
Departmental Seminar Series features Professor João de Pina-Cabral, School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent.
The seminar is followed by informal gathering, at which refreshments are served. All are welcome!
Copyright: University of Kent
Based on ethnographic fieldwork in a small agrotown in southern Portugal, this paper presents the case of a man whose life is marked by a fascination with ‘things’, arguing that he exercises a kind of ‘everyday activism.’ We aim to study contemporary social processes in the peripheral areas of southern Europe that are struggling under the destructive inheritance of neoliberal ‘austerity’ policies. Taking up a phenomenological tradition, the paper elaborates upon the distinction between those aspects of the world that we have ‘at hand’ and in which we participate (things) and those that have been, in some way, dissociated from our presence, assuming a more abstract existence (objects). This opposition is mobilised in order to engage ongoing anthropological debates concerning personhood, transcendence and participation.