Despite contemporary anthropology’s growing interest in ‘futures’, there has been an absence of sustained dialogue concerning the vital role of anticipation in everyday life. Seeking to bring much needed attention to the first-person perspective on futurity, in this introduction to the special issue we situate anticipation within the temporality of lived experience. Drawing on premises from anthropological studies of experience (particularly phenomenological approaches), we frame the experiential approach to anticipation by highlighting the parameters of its cross-cultural and intercontextual variability. We argue that anticipatory experience provides a crucial locus for ethnographic inquiry into the disparate and polysemous manifestations of futures in everyday life. We then seek to demonstrate how anticipation thus conceived may be productively integrated with numerous ongoing themes within contemporary anthropological scholarship. Finally, we introduce the individual contributions to the issue.
Experiencing Anticipation. Anthropological Perspectives
Christopher Stephan and Devin Flaherty
Remarks on Koselleck's Historik
Moving from Koselleck's most recent essays on Historik, the author explores the role played by historiography in the constitution of historicity as a peculiar experiential dimension of human existence. The essay focuses on the complex link between difference and repetition which, according to Koselleck's theory of experience, constitutes a “specific historical temporality” and its inner articulation. Actually, it is by exploring the “formal temporal structures” which constitute the horizon of historical intelligibility that Koselleck brings to light the decisive role that the point of view of historiography has for the constitution of man as the subject of historical knowledge and action. It is difficult to ignore the importance of this theory of historical temporalization in an age in which the End of History rhetoric tends to transform itself in a sort of media gospel.
These brief comments raise some questions about Murray Smith’s remarks, in his new volume Film, Art, and the Third Culture: A Naturalized Aesthetics of Film, on the nature of aesthetic experience. My questions concern how we might best draw a viable distinction between aesthetic and non-aesthetic experiences and focus in particular on possible links between self-awareness and aesthetic experiences. In sum, I agree with Smith in holding that we should not give up on the notion of aesthetic experience, even though aestheticians continue to disagree regarding even the most basic questions pertaining to its nature.
The Role of (Liberated) Embodied Simulation
The naturalization of the aesthetic experience of film and art can benefit from the contribution of neuroscience because we can investigate empirically the concepts we use when referring to it and what they are made of at the level of description of the brain-body. The neuroscientific subpersonal level of description is necessary but not sufficient, unless it is coupled with a full appreciation of the tight relationship that the brain entertains with the body and the world. In this article, I will discuss aspects of Murray Smith’s proposal on the aesthetic experience of art and film as presented in his Film, Art, and the Third Culture against the background of a new model of perception and imagination: embodied simulation.
Emotional Experience in Islamic Sermons (Bengali waʿz mahfils)
This article argues that conceptual change can be brought about and shaped by communication practice by approaching emotional experience in a particular strand of Islamic sermons from contemporary Bangladesh. It utilizes an extended rhetorical analysis, pertaining to the intertwining of concepts to be communicated, concepts of communication, and performance patterns of the sermons. It argues that by the juncture of narrative techniques of immediacy and momentarization with a bodily grounding of the voice, the listeners and preacher jointly reach the self-affection of the bodily and salvific emotions of (com)passion. From this perspective, the role of rhetorical practice is not limited to an ex post facto translation of conceptual change into practice; instead, the rhetorical goal of self-affection turns out to be an active factor in shaping concepts decisive for contemporary Islamic religiosity.
Using Schutz to Conceptualize the Nature Experiences of Secular People
David Thurfjell, Cecilie Rubow, Atko Remmel and Henrik Ohlsson
Denmark, Estonia, and Sweden are, if measured by certain sociological criteria, considered to be three of the world’s most secular countries. Nature—forests, pristine beaches, and the countryside—plays a specific role in the allegedly secular discourse of the mainstream populations of these nations. Not only is it almost without exception deemed as a positive asset worthy of protection, it is also thought of as holding certain existential qualities. Based on ethnographic fieldwork and interviews, this article suggests that Alfred Schutz’s conceptualization of transcendence—further developed by Thomas Luckmann—can be used to describe the existential experiences in nature of contemporary secular people. The article results in a suggestion for an operational definition of transcendence.
Women's Experience of the Holodomor, 1932–1933
Although the tragedy of the Holodomor (the Great Famine) of 1932 and 1933 figures prominently in public discourse and historical scholarship in Ukraine today, its gender dimension has not yet been examined. This article is based on an analysis of personal narratives of female survivors of the Holodomor, collected and published in Ukraine since the 1990s until now. It focuses on the peculiarities of women's experience of the Holodomor and explores women's strategies of resistance and survival in the harsh circumstances of genocide. It exposes a spectrum of women's agency at the grassroots and illuminates controversies around women's ways of coping with starvation. The article also discusses the methodological challenges and ethical issues faced by a Ukrainian female scholar studying women's experiences of famine.
This article discusses the experiences of Russian nurses in World War I. An examination of Russia's sisters of mercy—as Russian nurses prior to 1918 were called—in World War I reveals the significance of women's medical service and exposes the fallacy of the notion of war as a distinctly male experience. Russian women's wartime nursing experiences share many of the features of the male war experience. Although conventional wisdom draws lines of demarcation between the active killing and dying of combat and the passive nurturance and support of nursing, in reality, Russian women's wartime medical service blurred such separations. In many ways, the narratives of female medical personnel mirror those of male combat personnel. The nurses who served in Russia during World War I indicate clearly the variety of ways that women intersected with and were affected by the war and the inadequacies of gendered notions of wartime experience.
Pilgrims, Seers, and Religious Experience at Marian Apparition Sites
Sandra L. Zimdars-Swartz
Historically, walking has been an essential element of Christian pilgrimage. For medieval journeys of faith, whether from London to Canterbury, Santiago de Compostela, Rome, or Jerusalem, the rigors of walking the distance from home to site could demonstrate suffering, sacrifice, and devotion. Although people may arrive at a religious destination by plane, bus, or car, walking at the site remains essential to the pilgrim's experience of the sacred. Focusing on the reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes, Necedah, Garabandal, Medjugorje, and Melleray and some later developments at these sites, this article examines the ways in which the physical movements of the pilgrims at these places establish a context for their experiences of the sacred. In the chaos of the crowds assembled at an ongoing apparition, experience is as fluid as the mingling of the pilgrims with each other and with the physical environment. These sites stand in stark contrast to well-established shrines where permanent structures orchestrate both movement and meaning.
Doctoral fellows’ experiences of a mobile life
Lisbeth Kristine Olesen Walakira and Susan Wright
EU policies promote mobility as a part of contemporary doctoral education. EU-funded doctoral candidates are expected to move country, establish international research networks; travel for workshops, conferences and research stays abroad; and collaborate across disciplines as well as work in other sectors during their doctoral training. As far as EU policies are concerned, competence in all these ‘mobilities’ is essential for future knowledge workers in a competitive, global economy. But how do doctoral fellows themselves experience mobility? A survey of 3,410 EU-funded doctoral fellows shed light on their experiences of geographical, sectoral, interdisciplinary and social mobility. It showed that many PhD candidates are excited by the opportunities they see in their doctoral programmes, but they often experience tensions between their professional and personal desires.