The Hot Lava Edge of Cultural Flows
The Hot Lava Edge of Cultural Flows: Global Social Inequality and the Anthropology of Uncertainty, Contingency and Future Orientation is a project coordinated by the Department of Social Anthropology, NTNU. The project also has members from Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI), University of Tromsø, University of Oslo, and University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Bergen. The project, which is funded by the Research Council of Norway, started in January, 2013 and ends in December, 2016. The project is headed by Associate Professor Harald Aspen, Department of Social Anthropology, NTNU.
The «hot lava edge of cultural flows» alludes to the forceful transformative power of hegemonic and powerful streams that flow over the world - often destructive, but also sources of creativity and novelty, when the directions and nature of the flows are altered by active resistance and contrariety, or by opportunities that open up for entrepreneurship. The project explores the edges of these flows; what new forms of social and individual realities are formed where global forces meet with local agency. These meetings may spur creativity and improvisation, but also apathy and inability. By studying the «hot lava edges» we ask how social inequality at a global scale is created, recreated and solidified, or, alternatively, how it may take new and surprising turns, resulting in altered forms of inequalities. We claim that the lava flow represents uncertainty and contingency, and as such, it affects how the future can be acted upon, if at all.
The main objectives of the project are to explore the following by assessing already collected ethnographic material: a) global social insecurity and how it is related with people’s groups’ and communities’ experience of uncertainty and contingency and how this affects orientations towards the future, b) the strengths and limitations of ethnographic and anthropological method to analyze these relationships. Moreover the project contributes to strengthen Norwegian anthropology by bringing together researchers from Norwegian and international institutions for annual workshops that shall lead to published works in reputed channels.