Slought and the Health Ecologies Lab are pleased to announce Folded Into Lives, a conversation with João Biehl and Kristen Ghodsee about the politics of listening and ethnography as an unfinished practice. The evening will conclude with a screening of Gary Hurst's CAtArINa's Dictionary (2017), a short film inspired by João Biehl's book, Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment, and its main protagonist Catarina Inês Gomes Moraes' attempt to address sexism, paternity, abuse and poverty. This event is presented with the Center for Public Health Initiatives (CPHI) and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.
In Unfinished: The Anthropology of Becoming (2018), co-edited with Peter Locke, Joao Biehl explores the volatility of life lived on the edge of fear and destruction: from environmental calamity, racial injustice and state violence, to chronic warfare and deadly health disparities. Bringing together critical ethnographic essays on a range of worlds on the edge, Biehl stresses the importance of listening to those for whom uncertainty and resilience are part of everyday life, and the affects, ideas, forces, and objects that shape their experience.
Kristen Ghodsee similarly documents the lives of ordinary men and women who have suffered from massive social and economic upheaval. Through ethnographic accounts of her own experiences in Eastern Europe from 1989 to the present, she describes the disastrous and disorienting effects of the region's rapid transition to postsocialism and the ravages of neoliberalism. In Red Hangover: Legacies of Twentieth-Century Communism (2017), she examines the legacies of twentieth-century communism twenty-five years after the Berlin Wall fell, while in Lost in Transition: Ethnographies of Everyday Life after Communism (2011) Ghodsee explores how this shift interrupted the rhythms of everyday lives, leaving behind confusion, frustration, and insecurity, and a nostalgia for life under the Soviet Union.
How can scholars tend to the open-endedness of people's lived realities? In dialogue at Slought, Biehl and Ghodsee will consider these and other questions, including the responsibilities of the ethnographer in recording histories of violence and dispossession, unimaginable loss, and the longing for transformation.