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9 Self-portrait in a chair, by Ricardo Morin, 1998. oil on canvas. Reproduced by permission from the artist.

9 Self-portrait in a chair, by Ricardo Morin, 1998. oil on canvas. Reproduced by permission from the artist.

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The Art of Life and Death explores how the world appears to people who have an acute perspective on it: those who are close to death. Based on extensive ethnographic research, Andrew Irving brings to life the lived experiences, imaginative lifeworlds, and existential concerns of persons confronting their own mortality and non-being. Encompassing t...

Citations

... Disse kan vaere øyeblikkelige eller livslange (2019, ix). Desjarlais, i likhet med andre (Crapanzano, 2004;Irving, 2017;Grøn & Mattingly, 2021), argumenterer for at veldig mye i livet ikke eksisterer på et fysisk, virkelig plan, men er heller forestilt. Likevel er det en intim forbindelse mellom den materielle virkeligheten og det forestilte, slik det også er med hjemmet i alderdommen. ...
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Livets forgjengelighet tydeliggjøres i alderdommen. Mange må gjenetablere sin plass i livet. I denne artikkelen utforsker vi nye måter å være hjemme på i alderdommen, i form av nye/gamle former for tilhørighet og forestillinger forankret i rom og tid. Vi bygger på langvarige feltarbeid blant tre eldre damer som hver for seg har blitt fordrevet og evakuert fra sitt første hjem og bor henholdsvis i Danmark, tibetansk eksil i India og Grønland. Vi utforsker hva hjem betyr for dem nå som de ikke kan vende tilbake til det som en gang var deres opprinnelige hjem. Vi tilnærmer oss alderdommens hjem som et forestilt «bakland» (Crapanzano, 2004) som finnes i bakgrunnen av det materielle hjemmet.
... "the life course") and understanding of "trauma" that are Western-centric (Stewart et al., 2008;Summerfield, 1999;Watters, 2017) and which fashion life trajectories as overly linear. Such linearity is challenged by ethnographies of the "good life" in the Global South (Jackson, 2013) and also a much wider body of literature in health and illness that explores the ethics of living with chronic illness and biographical disruptions (Irving, 2017;Mattingly, 2010) and which argues for the creativity involved in making a life liveable. What these literatures importantly emphasise are the ways in which people may engage in processes of mobilisation of resources to make their lives liveable in the face of disruption (Locock and Ziebland, 2009). ...
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Purpose This review and theoretical analysis paper aims to bring together literatures of place, mobility, refugees and mental health to problematise the ways in which social support is practised on the ground and to rethink its possibilities. Design/methodology/approach This paper draws on an interdisciplinary understanding of social support that focusses on the social networks and significant and intimate relationships that mitigate negative mental health and well-being outcomes. The authors explore the dialectic relationship between place and mobility in refugee experiences of social support. Findings The authors argue that, in an Euro-American context, practices of social support have historically been predicated on the idea of people-in-place. The figure of the refugee challenges the notion of a settled person in need of support and suggests that people are both in place and in motion at the same time. Conversely, attending to refugees’ biographies, lived experiences and everyday lives suggests that places and encounters of social support are varied and go beyond institutional spaces. Research limitations/implications The authors explore this dialectic of personhood as both in place and in motion and its implications for the theorisation, research and design of systems of social support for refugees. Originality/value This paper surfaces the dialectics of place and mobility for supporting refugee mental health from an interdisciplinary perspective.
... We begin with a note about the methodology and a consideration of our use of the term 'elite' to represent these graduates. The irony of a group labelled as such going on to experience hardship is part of a broader temporality of cultural production in which life trajectories are not only generated by people's backgrounds, but also by the contingencies of their aspirations and engagements with the future (Appadurai, 2013;Irving, 2017)as in downwards or upwards social mobility. Subsequently, we present a conceptual framing of the notions of fate and cruel optimism (Berlant, 2011) and relate these to current research on graduate transitions. ...
... We followed up with participants for repeat interviews to trace how perspectives may alter in accordance with changing situations (cf. Finn, 2015;Irving, 2017). Participant observation was helpful in building rapport with participants and served as another principle data collection strategy. ...
... While not all students at this university are members of a social or economic elite by any traditional metric (for example, coming from families in the top 1% of household income), there were no students in the study who came from backgrounds of marked socioeconomic disadvantage. We hence develop the argument that obstacles are not only produced from the conditions people are born into, but also through the situations which they (inadvertently) create (Irving, 2017). ...
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This article presents ethnographic research on the aspirations of graduates from a private university in New York City, some of whom move to Los Angeles. Findings depict financial and family pressures exerting a governing force upon the graduates’ futures, often beyond their control. Focusing on the narratives of four individuals, we introduce the language of fate as a means of conceptualising the potential repercussions of aspiration and Higher Education. The premise of both is an increased determinacy over one’s future, yet in the high-stakes U.S. context here examined, this financial investment and articulation of family hope may generate fated (seemingly inescapable) and/or fateful (ominous) outcomes. The dynamic of ‘cruel optimism’ illustrates some of the paradoxical consequences of Higher Education, whereby people may be punished by their aspirations. We discuss what factors affect differing outlooks on the future and imply alternative dimensions to adversity beyond the remit of ‘inequality’.
... movement and narrative were used to understand the phenomenology of the unwell body-inaction by crafting an ethnographic context for the narration of experiences, which are already lived in a person's daily life but otherwise might not be articulated or made public. For more general accounts of how experiences of terminal illness, death and dying are mediated by complex streams of interior dialogue and imagination, seeIrving (2016). ...
Article
The capacity for a complex inner lifeworld that encompasses ongoing streams of inner dialogue and reverie, as well as non-linguistic or image based forms of thought, is an essential component of being human and central to many everyday actions and practices. Simply put, without inner expression there would be no self-understanding or social existence in any recognisable form. Despite this, it is largely a terra incognita for anthropology or is seen as irrelevant or intangible, rather than an empirical phenomenon that is directly constitutive of people’s lived experiences and actions and therefore worthy of investigation. As such anthropology is at risk of only telling half the story of human life. This presents a deep-seated problem for disciplines like anthropology that are based on empirical evidence insofar as it is primarily a methodological and practical problem rather than a conceptual one, especially with regard to how to research and represent the transient, stream-like and ever-changing character of people’s interior expressions and experiences as they emerge in the moment. In response, this article attempts to offer an ethnographically grounded account of how people’s lived experiences of the city are mediated by complex amalgams of inner expression, memory and imagination that largely remain beneath the surface of their public activities. The accompanying video and sound recordings derive from an experimental practice-based research project, New York Stories, for which I recorded more than a hundred interior dialogues of random strangers as they moved around the city. The reader is invited to download sounds clips onto their phone or MP3 player and walk around their own city with someone else’s thoughts in their head.
Article
World‐wide, diabetes is taking on epidemic proportions. This is a debilitating disease that damages and destroys bodily systems unless blood sugar levels are kept close to normal, and patients are therefore urged to practise attentive self‐management. Among people with type II diabetes in Vietnam, such everyday attentiveness seems to far exceed clinical recommendations, suffusing daily lives in pervasive and yet elusive ways. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in northern Vietnam, this article aims to depict the lifeworlds in which diabetes attentiveness unfolds. Seeking to capture the inchoate ways in which diabetes alters everyday lives, the article develops literary displacement as an experimental mode of writing‐cum‐inquiry that combines standard ethnography with ethnographic fiction. Taking diabetes in Vietnam as its case, the article shows how literary displacement can contribute to cultivating ethnographic as well as analytical sensibilities, strengthening the capacity of anthropology to capture subtle and subdued layers of life. Attention quotidienne : comprendre le diabète au Vietnam par le biais du déplacement littéraire Résumé Partout dans le monde, le diabète prend des proportions épidémiques. Il s‘agit d'une maladie invalidante qui endommage et qui détruit les systèmes corporels, à moins que le taux de sucre dans le sang soit maintenu proche de la normale, et les patients sont ainsi exhortés à pratiquer une autogestion attentive. Parmi les personnes atteintes de diabète de type 2 au Vietnam, une telle attention quotidienne semble dépasser largement les recommandations cliniques, imprégnant la vie quotidienne de manière omniprésente et pourtant évasive. S'appuyant sur un travail de terrain ethnographique mené dans le nord du Vietnam, cet article décrit les cadres de vie dans lesquels l'attention au diabète se développe. Cherchant à saisir les manières inchoatives dont le diabète modifie les vies quotidiennes, l'article développe le déplacement littéraire comme un mode expérimental d’écriture et d'enquête alliant l'ethnographie standard à la fiction ethnographique. En prenant pour exemple le diabète au Vietnam, l'article montre comment le déplacement littéraire peut contribuer à cultiver les sensibilités ethnographiques et analytiques, renforçant ainsi la capacité de l'anthropologie à saisir les couches subtiles et modérées de la vie.
Article
In Vietnam, as in many other countries across the world, type II diabetes is attaining epidemic proportions. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Vietnam's Thái Bình province, this article highlights the affective complexities that arise when people strive to adjust to a life with this chronic, debilitating disease. While finding their daily existence radically altered, people with diabetes also actively resisted transformation, insisting on the continuity of their lives. This resistance to transformation was, the research revealed, fueled by the force of love: when their disease threatened to place them at the margins of family and community, people responded by enacting love, striving to attend to others as they always had. This study from Vietnam illustrates how transformative experiences may be characterized by hesitation, reluctance, and resistance, as people work against change while at the same time ambivalently embracing it. Tóm Tắt Tại Việt Nam cũng như nhiều nơi khác trên thế giới, bệnh đái tháo đường týp 2 đang có tỷ lệ mắc cao. Dựa trên nghiên cứu điền dã khảo tả dân tộc học thực hiện tại tỉnh Thái Bình, Việt Nam, bài báo này nêu bật những phức hợp cảm xúc diễn ra khi người bệnh cố gắng thích ứng với cuộc sống cùng căn bệnh mạn tính gây suy nhược này. Trong khi nhận ra đời sống thường nhật của họ đã thay đổi mạnh mẽ, những người bệnh tham gia trong nghiên cứu này cũng nỗ lực kháng cự lại sự chuyển biến, nhất mực tiếp tục cuộc đời họ. Sự kháng cự chuyển biến này, như nghiên cứu đã chỉ ra, chứa chất sức mạnh yêu thương: khi căn bệnh đẩy họ ra bên lề gia đình và cộng đồng, người ta đã đáp lại bằng cách bộc lộ sự yêu thương, nỗ lực chăm sóc nhau như họ vẫn hằng thế. Nghiên cứu từ Việt Nam này cho thấy cách mà các trải nghiệm chuyển biến đã diễn ra như thế nào cùng với nỗi e dè, sự lưỡng lự và sự kháng cự, khi mà người ta vừa cố gắng chống lại sự chuyển biến vừa đón nhận nó một cách mơ hồ.
Article
This article explores the transformative experience of estrangement by a Kurdish Iranian refugee named Hiwa in exile in Denmark. Through a person‐centered approach, I focus on what was at stake for stateless people, such as Hiwa, at a time when right‐wing populist asylum politics made achieving permanent citizenship an uphill battle and leaving Denmark impossible due to the Dublin Regulation. Drawing on psychoanalytic theories of “the multiple self,” I describe Hiwa's changing self‐states as involving a triple reorientation in the form of an estranged relationship to his past, present, and envisioned future. I analyze this transformative experience as linked to an existential quest to find a space between the struggle for freedom and submission to a sense of powerlessness—experiences that sometimes elude conventional language. Finally, I suggest that reading poetry and writing about exile constituted a transitional experience enabling an inner world of emotions to be expressed. The article provides a window to the human consequences of the “Paradigm Shift” in Danish asylum politics, which entailed making all residence permits temporary—and more broadly to the growing problem of statelessness in Europe.
Article
This article is about art practice that aims at researching and recreating the condition of living with a particular sensory disability, and this through an interactive installation. The two artists whose work I investigate research the visual and aural experiences of themselves and others and attempt to recreate those experiences using computer-generated images and sounds: it is a process of sensory approximation. The audience interacting with these art installations, created in this process, are meant to experience—if for a moment—the condition of living with tinnitus and amblyopia, conditions that considerably affect one’s sensorium. These multimodal attempts at transforming a person’s bodily condition and sensorium into an intersubjective experience resonate with the methodological and epistemic concerns of sensory anthropology.
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Walking has become a common form of practice in contemporary art. Recent anthropology has been influenced by art walking practices. In this paper, however, I show significant differences between art walking and what we could call ‘Walking anthropology’. The former is more explicitly engaged, in many cases, in the ‘politics of walking’. These politics, on the one hand, could be based on ideas of walking as an everyday prefiguration of a future utopian society. Yet on the other hand, walking art could also be a critique of existing forms of everyday power and mobility as they are inscribed in the landscape and the city. In walking anthropology these concerns with the politics of walking seem less evident. Comparing artistic and anthropological practices and discussions of walking, my final objective is to critically evaluate the concepts of ‘politics’ and ‘utopia’ in art and anthropology. La marche est devenue une forme de pratique courante dans l’art contemporain. L’anthropologie récente a été influencée par la pratique de l’déambulation artistique. Dans cet article, je mets cependant en lumière les différences notables qui existent entre la marche dans l’art et ce que nous pourrions appeler « l’anthropologie de la marche ». Dans bien des cas, la première est plus ouvertement engagée dans une « politique de la marche ». Cette politique repose parfois sur une conception de la marche comme préfiguration quotidienne d’une société utopique future. Mais la marche artistique peut aussi consister en une critique des formes existantes de pouvoir et de mobilité quotidiens inscrites dans les paysages et les villes. Ces préoccupations au sujet de la politique de la marche semblent moins évidentes au sein de l’anthropologie. En mettant en regard les pratiques artistiques et anthropologiques et les discussions autour de la marche, mon objectif est de produire une analyse critique des concepts de « politique » et d’« utopie » dans l’art et l’anthropologie.