In this panel, we present ethnographic engagements with imagination. In his scholarship on Islamic philosophy, Henry Corbin has defined imagination as the exercise of the creative intuitive faculties associated with imagery by which the essentially invisible aspects of reality may become envisioned. And yet, this potential for revelation remains tied to the sacred domain. Access to truth is severed in modern imagination, rendering it as mere fantasy, madness, resigned to falsity and error. In Knot of the Soul, Stefania Pandolfo blurs Corbin’s distinctions between modern imagination and the Imaginal to rethink the boundary between imagination and madness, revealing their possibilities for truth especially in the context of shattering worlds. Vincent Crapanzano also sees potential in imagination even in the midst of its terrifying inaccessibility. He thinks of imagination through the trope of the hinterland, the beyond, the elsewhere and wonders if our fear of it is the result of human origin, cultural and historical bonds, or puritanical epistemologies of presence. He points not to the distinction between the imaginary and reality, but rather to their co-creation saying, “I am then particularly concerned with the paradoxical ways in which the irreality of the imaginary impresses the real on reality and the real of reality compels the irreality of the imaginary,” (2003, 15). Defined in this way, as irreality, the imaginary acts in and on reality, not just as imagined worlds, futures and possibilities but also as presence, experience and through the soul--as what makes you, you. Following this work by Pandolfo and Crapanzano, we query anew the relationship between imagination and reason, between imagination and what has otherwise been deemed reality or truth. Interested in this unstable, particular, and ephemeral hinterland, we ask: how might the study of imagination illuminate that which is silenced by dominant structures of knowledge? What might a turning to non-human beings, the natural world, madness, and other ways of knowing allow us to hear? And how might listening to imagination allow us to study emergence, becoming, newness entering the world? Simultaneously work of archive and salvage, and of future-making, we argue that the study of imagination has become increasingly urgent as we bear witness to the ends of familiar•and ruined•worlds and the birth of that which is next.
Next from AAA Annual Meeting 2021
Querying Beyond the Beyond in eastern DRCongo: Where antiblackness, imagination, and repair meet
AAA Annual Meeting 2021
18 November 2021