Panel no. 31 - The Potentiality of Encounters


Title Dr First name Sabine Last name Bauer-Amin
Institution Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Social Anthropology City Vienna Country AT


Title Ms First name Aleksandra Last name Reczuch
Institution name Södertörn University, Baltic and Eastern European Graduate School City Stockholm Country SE


Panel title

The Potentiality of Encounters

Panel abstract

When two or more groups meet, who differ from each other based on their conceptions of self and other, their encounter rarely happens on symmetrical grounds. Yet, these encounters are not just shaped by an experience of difference but have an inherent potentiality that can lead to transformations even beyond their actual spatial or temporal location. Even eluded encounters can steer affective reactions, new meanings and reshape social configurations. While the asymmetry in encounters might perpetuate in learned preconceptions about the Self and the Other, embodied practices and intrinsic power differences, their transformative effect influences new phenomena of knowledge production and subjectivities. Through the capacity of transcending abstract ideas about "the Other" into concrete experience, the encounter opens space for dynamic negotiation and contestation (Fountain 2016). These dynamics raise the potential of transforming not just the ideas about each other, but also give grounds for new practices and subjectivities. As a recently developed analytic lens (Schiocchet 2017, 2018, forthcoming), the encounter allows us to see that first, notions of difference are constantly unfolding and embedded in various knowledge systems that become enmeshed with each other, while second, certain concrete self-understandings, subjectivities and social phenomena emerge out of these enmeshments. By focusing on the potentiality and the transformative power of encounters this panel seeks to foster a discussion on enmeshed connections of knowledge production across knowledge systems, the role of the encounter in polarized societies, new emerging subjectivities and affective reactions elicited by the potentiality of encounters across differences.

IUAES Commission