Panel no. 71 - Encounters Across Difference: Moving Beyond Dark Anthropology


Title Dr First name Natalia Last name Bloch
Institution Adam Mickiewicz University City Poznań Country PL


Title Dr First name Noel B. Last name Salazar
Institution name KU Leuven City Leuven Country BE


Panel title

Encounters Across Difference: Moving Beyond Dark Anthropology

Panel abstract

A. M. Nogués Pedregal noticed that the scholarly focus on dialectics rather than on dialogics has limited our anthropological understanding of sociocultural processes and the production of knowledge (2008: 148). While he referred to tourism contexts, the same can be said about encounters that are the outcome of other forms of mobility (e.g. economic migration, forced migration, etc.). The long-standing tradition of interpreting both tourism and migration by employing a center/periphery binary and focusing on "difference" has resulted in narratives of conflict, subordination or resistance. Sherry B. Ortner (2016) identified this tendency - present in our discipline since the 1980s - as "dark anthropology". We have tended to perceive the world through the lens of ubiquitous "power, exploitation, and chronic pervasive inequality" (2016: 50). Such approach makes our field of theorization close-ended. Ortner thus calls us for overcoming these dark tendencies, while not ignoring the wider contexts of power and inequalities. Arjun Appadurai's anthropology of aspiration and possibilities is one of these approaches. The aim of this panel, then, is to explore spaces of dialogue, cooperation, reciprocity, closeness, care, friendship and intimacy in encounters that are the outcome of mobilities, along with the possibilities they bear. We seek ethnographically grounded studies of informal, interpersonal encounters "across difference" (Tsing 2005) in order to pose the critical question whether they have the potential to create meaningful relationships that would broaden horizons of hope and shape a better future.

IUAES Commission

IUAES Commission on the Anthropology of Tourism