Sense/Nonsense: Unmaking Language
New York, April 2001
CALL FOR PAPERS The Department of Anthropology at Columbia University, New York, NY invites submissions for the 2001 Boas-Benedict Conference, entitled "Sense/Nonsense: Unmaking Language" April 14-15, 2001 Deadline for the submission of abstracts is March 20, 2001 Since the "linguistic turn" in anthropology, a linguistic or symbolic model has emerged as a prevalent model for understanding "culture" and the social writ large. This conference proposes to explore the borders of this model for knowledge, the guarded line struck between sense and nonsense that makes our knowledge tenable. The point is not to debunk the implications that anthropology's "linguistic turn" has generated for our knowledge, in as much as it is to adequately come to terms with the ontological implications that the recourse to language, broadly understood, might entail, indeed might be made possible by. The conference is an invitation to think the nature of the sovereignty of language/the symbolic in the constitution of our "sense" of the world. What are the limitations of what we generally understand by a linguistic or symbolic construction of the world? What problems plague this particular understanding in the social sciences? In other words, notwithstanding the political and ethical relevance and purchase of this approach to knowledge, what are the issues with which it cannot necessarily engage? Crucially, is it possible that the very materiality of our existence relates to us, or communicates with us, in a manner that is not reducible to what the terms of an analytic of language/symbolic make available for us? How do we make sense of that "murmur" (in Foucualt's sense of the word) that is not the putative language of language? What, then, does it mean to have a "sense" of something otherwise than linguistic/symbolic? Is such a sense "always already" linguistically constructed or is it ever given over to us with an immediacy that does not necessarily call upon language? If so, what is the nature of this immediacy? Further, in this scheme, what is the status of what might tentatively be called nonsense (non-sense)? That is to say, how can we think, talk, imagine a 'sense' and/or 'non-sense' not already locatable within - that might even challenge - linguistic, symbolic, cultural structures and structurings of meanings? Topics to consider for this conference include: · the ways in which sense and nonsense interrupt the play of signification in instances of shock, trauma, and mental illness, for example; · what relationships attain between the linguistic/symbolic and the corporeal/visceral/material; · what do we mean when we use "experience" as a category; · translation and un-translatability; · the relationship between sensory perception and representation; · the role of sense and nonsense in performances (ritual, theatre, music, etc.); · the analysis of "habit," "commonsense," "the everyday," and "discipline"; · the limits of language and language of limits; · are anthropology and other social sciences in any way equipped to enable us to engage with this problematic? Please send 250 word abstracts by March 20, 2001 to: ATTN: Boas Benedict Conference Department of Anthropology Columbia University 452 Schermerhorn Ext. New York, NY 10027 USA Or, email abstracts as attachments to email@example.com. Please direct all questions to Goutam Gajula (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Vishnupad Mishra (email@example.com).