Time and the ethnographic horizon in moments of crisis
The Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of St Andrews announces a new research venture to explore the time horizons that inform people’s perceptions of crisis. It is supported by the International Balzan Foundation, as part of the 2018 Balzan Prize in Social Anthropology awarded to Marilyn Strathern.
The Balzan Research Project responds to a conundrum at the heart of Social Anthropology. First hand research is central to the fashioning of ethnography through fieldwork, yet always brings with it a specific temporal horizon. The ethnographer’s present is not always the best vantage point from which to apprehend the nature of contemporary issues, notably with respect to perceptions of life in crisis. Capitalizing on current anthropological debate over notions of time and the future, it will turn the conundrum into a set of research questions about the diverse relationships among the temporal frameworks being deployed at moments of perceived crisis, the ethnographer’s time horizon included. The regional focus will be Melanesia, with critical comparative input from Amazonia.
The project will run for three years, administered by the Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of St Andrews, the only one of its kind in the UK and one of only a few in Europe, under its Director, Dr Tony Crook. The Centre has a record of fostering Pacific Island research, doctoral and post-doctoral, in association with the Department of Anthropology at St Andrews to which it belongs and which also includes the Centre for Amerindian Studies, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019.
The University of St Andrews will complement the Balzan Foundation’s funding of this venture through substantial further support to enhance the overall scope of the project.