Sensing the Everyday is a multi-sited ethnographic inquiry based on fieldwork experiences and sharp everyday observations in the era of crisis. Blending sophisticated theoretical analyses with original ethnographic data, C. Nadia Seremetakis journeys from Greece to Vienna, Edinburgh, Albania, Ireland, and beyond. Social crisis is seen through its transnational multiplication of borders, thresholds and margins, divisions, and localities as linguistic, bodily, sensory, and performative sites of the quotidian in process. The book proposes everyday life not as a sanctuary or as a recessed zone distanced from the structural violence of the state and the market, but as a condition of im/possibility, unable to be lived as such, yet still an encapsulating habitus. There the impossibility of the quotidian is concretized as fragmentary and fragmenting material forces. Seremetakis weaves together topics as diverse as borders and bodies, history and death, the earth and the senses, language and affect, violence and public culture, the sociality of dreaming, and the spatialization of the traumatic, in a journey through antiphonic witnessing and memory. Her montage explores various ways of juxtaposing reality with the irreal and the imaginal to expose the fictioning of social reality. The book locates her approach to ethnography and the ‘native ethnographer’ in wider anthropological and philosophical debates, and proposes a dialogical interfacing of theory and practice, the translation of academic knowledge to public knowledge
Table of Contents
Part I: Interfaces
1. On Board/On Boarder
2. Dialogue/ The Dialogical
Part II: Death Drives in the City
3. Theatrocracy and Memory in Austerity Times
4. Modern Cities of Silence: Disasters, Nature, and the Petrified Bodies of History
5. Wounded Borders: The Arrival of the "Barbarians"
6. Eros and Thanatos in Transnational Europe
Part III: Senses Revisited
7. Touch and Taste
8. Border Echoes
Part IV: Sensing the Invisible
9. Divination, Media and the Networked Body of Modernity
10. A Last Word on Dreaming
Part V: Borders of Translatability
11. On "Native" Ethnography in Modernity
12. Ethnopoetic Dialogues: Performing Local History
13. Performing Intercultural Translation
Part VI: The Violence of the Lettered
14. Events of Deadly Rumor: By Way of an Epilogue:
C. Nadia Seremetakis is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of the Peloponnese, Greece. She has authored several acclaimed books and articles in English and Greek, including poetry, and has been actively engaged in public anthropology in both Europe and the USA, where she lived and taught for more than two decades.
"This book is an impassioned intervention in a changing European and modern political culture. It re-enchants the everyday, the grass-roots, the familial-feminine, and the concrete in unique and important ways…and proposes a new public anthropology of broad use refocused on the sensorium that emerges from the traumatic in everyday life.
Drawing on her own continuing fieldwork and cultural participation in Greece, as well as elsewhere in Europe and the US, and inspired by Adorno, Taussig, Benjamin, Foucault, de Certeau, and other critics of a flattening, disembodying modernity, Seremetakis engages the politics of EU "management" and other practices of "modern development" with sensitive attention to their effects on ordinary people living everyday lives. The observations found in this book are rich and exciting, and the interpretations advanced are unpredictably open-minded."
Judith Farquhar, University of Chicago & Director, USA
"This book is marked by a heterogeneity of micrological ethnographic sites cut across by recurrent themes…such as the spatialization of sensory experience and memory, the critique of the axis of Dominant and Archaicized culture (as formulated by Raymond Williams), a counter concern with Residual and Emergent cultural forms excluded from that axis, and a unique philological approach to sensory experience through an archeology of vernacular language. This framework generates fascinating insights on cultural heritage as sensory archives in relation to the museumification of Greece which is in direct communication with its current debt collapse. …Powerful is also the author’s analysis of rumor as an element of corruption and deceit of Greek public culture."
Allen Feldman, New York University, USA
"A major work that will certainly be discussed and become a reference point for many years …It reveals Seremetakis as an ethnographer of the everyday, strolling the world like a modern day flaneur, with her eyes open for telling details that are then woven into extraordinary anthropological analyses of diverse topics ….that add up to "the study of the quotidian in process." Her ruminations…exquisitely and sensitively observed and poignant beyond words, reveal also that she has not stopped thinking on pain and death, just gotten better at it.... This is Seremetakis at her finest."
Paul Stoller, West Chester University, USA