In this presentation I develop an existential anthropological approach towards understanding mourning practices of Shia Muslims in Myanmar. Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in the country’s former capital Yangon, I designate Shia mourning rituals as existential situations through which individuals come to experience themselves and others. Drawing on Jean-Paul Sartre’s theory of the body and Tine Gammeltoft’s framework of belonging as well as an ethnomethodological analysis of micro-interactions, I develop how in such existential situations a largely pre-reflective self-consciousness can lead to what I call 'we-formation‘ — the forming of groups that does not rely on ethno-religious or other classifications along the lines of identity, race or class. 'We-formation‘ complements the predominance of the category of 'community‘ usually invoked by both anthropologists and our interlocutors when it comes to explain what binds individuals together. 'We-formation contributes to social theory in general by reconciling individuality and intersubjectivity and it is insofar applicable far beyond the Southeast Asian context.
Judith Beyer specializes in political and legal anthropology. She conducts long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan) and Southeast Asia (Myanmar) and increasingly in Europe (multisited). Her research focuses on the anthropology of law, the anthropology of the state and statelessness, and theories of singularity and sociality. Her current thematic interests are: we-formation and the work of 'community', expert activism, practices of traditionalization, and exploring the overlaps between anthropology and psychoanalysis. Theoretically, she draws on existential anthropology, ethnomethodology, and the work of Jacques Lacan.
The event will be hybrid.
Online registration to participate via zoom: Registration
This event is part of the lecture series:
ZMO Colloquium Winter Semester 2023/2024
Materialities of Empire and Nation-State: Experiences in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East
Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Kirchweg 33, 14129 Berlin