egrama at umich.edu egrama at umich.edu
Sun Mar 23 21:00:10 EDT 2008


The proposed panel


This panel will focus on the political dimensions of creating and 
legitimizing aesthetical gazes and forms.  Such a framework makes 
possible the excavation of political ideologies that legitimize 
concepts ranging from heritage and the craft of a cityscape, to global 
missionary movements working to move medical supplies to areas of need, 
to war zones like Iraq that struggle to define a singular state.  Our 
panel strives to make these ideological tensions explicit by engaging 
them through the visually powerful metaphors that are planned to 
encapsulate and move these discourses through regimes of beauty and 
elegance.  We examine the nodes in which political values coalesce to 
solidify particular doctrines of governance, at both state and 
international registers.  These prime loci are in essence what have 
been called “dense transfer points of power,” places that are 
themselves highly fraught as different communities battle for the right 
to self-determination.

Collectively, we examine in a variety of social and historical settings 
the ways that aesthetic experiences, historical formations in 
themselves, contribute to forms of historical consciousness. The panel 
builds upon scholarly approaches that call for a finer examination of 
the sense politics of the everyday in social analysis. Walter 
Benjamin’s distinction between the contemplation and distraction 
cultivated by technologies of modern life reveals an ideology of 
sensory relations within each aesthetic experience. Sensory perception 
is embedded in historical ways of relating to the world, as well as 
imagining the social person. Michael Taussig has warned that approaches 
to studying people’s daily life might presuppose an astutely perceptive 
individual rather than examine the perhaps less contemplative sociality 
of sensing. In this panel, we strive to investigate how ideologies of 
sensory relations in daily life shape representational forms that are 
moral, temporal, and political. How do “aesthetic regimes,” or 
ideologies of sensory relations, mediate particular representational 
forms? In what ways do these sensory relations become known?

Building upon Rancière who argued for a consideration of aesthetic acts 
as experiential modalities so commonplace as to be a priori sensical, 
we not only consider how imaginaries of beauty are conceived to mirror 
political realities (and vice versa) but also how art and
architectural forms are themselves ideological strategies that anchor 
claims in political struggles.

We welcome submissions that seek to answer in various ways some of the 
following questions:

What is it about the pursuit of an aesthetic regime that is so 
compelling in the struggle of competing political values?

If distributions of aesthetic sensibilities are not only insidious 
markers of agency, what productive value do they contribute to 
struggles for statehood, citizenship, and the colonial legacy?

What types of aesthetic forms and practices become privileged over 
others and what criteria are called upon in such acts of legitimization?

In what ways do such institutional practices rely upon ideologies of 
aesthetic representation in order to implement novel forms of 
historical consciousness, through attempts to redefine “distance” (as a 
process of constructing both an aesthetic gaze and a relationship with 

We are looking for the fourth presenter to complete our panel. Please 
send a 250 word abstract, a short bio, and email address to Emanuela 
Grama, egrama at umich.edu, by Thursday, March 27. The deadline for 
abstract submission to AAA is April 1st, and according to the AAA, each 
person must submit their own abstract via the online submission process.

Thank you!

Panel co-organizers:
Emanuela Grama, PhD Candidate, the Doctoral Program in Anthropology and 
History, University of Michigan
Bridget Guarasci, PhD Candidate in Anthropology, University of Michigan
Britt Halvorson, PhD Candidate in Anthropology, University of Michigan

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