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Neni Panourgia: Unsafe Texts

"Unsafe Texts (Mourning and Hypervalue in the Time of Crisis)"

Mon, September 16, 2013 | SAC 5.118

12:00 PM

A talk by Professor Neni Panourgia, Anthropology, Bard College

There is a long-standing commitment that anthropology has to an ideal form of its subject. While the subject itself, ontologically, is never the same (in the sense that even the iconic “Nuer” are ontologically boundless) it is always an already fixed epistemological object, an exercise in the dialectical dance of otherness initiated and effectuated by the anthropologist. In this paper I want to explore the process and push the boundaries of production of anthropological knowledge in cases where the distance between the anthropologist and that epistemological subject is minimized as it, simultaneously, challenges the proxemics of that distance. I will argue that this tension—not inevitably inherent in that relationship—is particularly salient and becomes apparent when viewed through the challenges presented when research takes place under conditions of crisis, such as the recent political and economic meltdown in Greece. The specificity of these circumstances produces a constellation of methodological and epistemological queries: it depends on multi-sited research (through various media, locations, discourses, and epistemic structures) as it demands the ethnographic richness that can only be attained through long-term, in-depth engagement with the object of study. It treads on dangerous and unsafe grounds as its object—“the crisis”— has an embodied materiality (witnessed on the bodies of the citizens) while it is being wished away as soon as possible. What knowledges become possible under circumstances of crisis, especially a crisis that is itself the object of objections and suspicion as to what exactly comprises it and what exactly it constitutes?

Professor Panourgia's ethnographic and historical work has mostly been centered around Greece where she has tackled a range of topics, including mythologies and contemporary Greek political history. Her latest monograph Dangerous Citizens: The Greek Left and the Terror of the State (2009) has been received enthusiastically by the anthropological community.

This event is sponsored by The Center for European Studies at UT.

For further information please contact Dr. Sofian Merabet at

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