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ASA Conference 2014 Edinburgh 19th-22nd June

TITLE: Light as material culture, experience and practice

The deadline is January 5th. 250 word abstract. If anyone you know is focusing

on Light where they doing ethnography or studying a cultural group, please take

a look at our panel and pass on to any interested. (I will be talking about

cinematographers). Our panel is number P35. Thanks.

Cathy Greenhalgh (University of the Arts, London) email

Jennifer Deger (James Cook University) email


Few ethnographies engage light as material, qualia, culture, expression; yet light-

based encounters can be fundamental to ritual, place, art, science. This panel

aims to inspire observations of light as it matters to the people we study, as part

of fieldwork, as material culture or skilled practice. (300 caracteres)

Long Abstract (250 word)

Light has had little attention in anthropology (see Bille and Srensen (2007) on

the discipline's few forays into this area). Yet light so often occupies a

fundamental place in ritual, health, mood, memory, and religious experience;

it holds a shifting but central place in the creation of art and science.

This panel seeks to inspire ethnographic accounts that address light qualia

and experienceand the plurality of cultural understanding and expressivity

with light. We encourage contributors to consider light as experienced by the

participants they study, as an integral aspect of place and fieldwork, as material

culture, or as skilled practice. We seek analyses historical or contemporary. This

might include legacies of Enlightenment understanding of physics of light (and

colour) and inventive measurement; Romanticism's sublime view of sunlight,

moonlight, firelight; artificial light and industry; light as aesthetics and

technology in art, architecture, design, photography, cinema; light as alchemy,

revelation or philosophy; light and dark in language; light and fire festivals; light

as sense, texture, surface luminosity and opacity; light as medicine, well-being;

light as mastery and deflection; light as force of attraction, a source of wonder

and bedazzlement; diurnal and nocturnal light qualia; light and ecology, weather

and pollution; luminous landscapes in country or city.

Our aim is to bring to together a richer report of anthropological

approaches to this topic within an interdisciplinary conversation on light

that includes Tim Edensor, Simon Carter, Patricia Fara, Anne Hollander, Frances

Guerin, Esther Leslie, Wolfgang Schivelbusch, and Arthur Zajonc.