Call for Papers – Poesis: The ambivalent creation of truth.

Poesis Hands
Call for Papers: (Submission deadline 1st of November)
Sixth International Political Anthropology Workshop in Ireland on
Poesis: The ambivalent creation of truth.
29th & 30th of November, 2013
Waterford Institute of Technology
Organised by the Department of Applied Arts, Waterford Institute of Technology, the Journal International Political Anthropology, and the School of Sociology & Philosophy, University College Cork
Conveners: Tom Boland (Sociology, WIT,,)
                   John O’ Brien, (Sociology, WIT,
Poesis, from the Ancient Greek (ποίησις) means production or composition. This creativity is central and vital to humanity; from language, story and song through objects, homes and art to political and social institutions. To study society and culture separately is scarcely tenable: this conference concerns the centrality of meaning, narrative and even beauty to human life. Yet, in modernity poesis and culture are often relegated to being little more than entertainment or even frothy ideology which distorts ‘real’ social processes. Furthermore, for academics oriented to investigating, interpreting or even measuring social forces, how poesis creates truth is a matter of deep ambivalence.
There is nothing more poetic than the sense, or even the sensation, of moving through fiction towards the truth. As Nietzsche pointed out, all of our truths are fictions which we have ceased to recognise as creative poesis: the foundational concepts of philosophy, theology and all the modern disciplines emerge from stories. Inevitably, we live culturally within one fictional world or another, or even in many worlds that overlap in complex ways. Yet, we are ambivalent about this poesis: Whose fiction is it? Does fictional mean false, ideological and erroneous? And what might happen if the fiction starts to wear thin – will there be disenchantment, alienation or renewal?
The intersections of culture and society are no narrow specialism, but increasingly a concern common to many disciplines. Cultural anthropology, at least since Geertz, has taken the meaning-making practices of human societies as a central area of inquiry. Cultural sociology has grown from a minor field to a central paradigm. Literary and performance theory, musicology and cognate disciplines have become increasingly concerned with culture and context, from new historicism to reader response theories. This conference will bring together papers concerned with poesis and culture from all of these areas which engage with the ambivalent status of truth after the cultural turn, the historical turn and the performative turn.
The question of poesis and truth cannot be confined to the sepulchral realms of high art or the distracting froth of popular culture. Despite the dominance of technocratic discourse, the political world is animated by fictions, from universalising utopian visions to images of the nation. Ultimately politics is a contest over meaning. Similarly that thing which we sometimes call ‘economic reality’ is also a storied world, with confidence, booms and busts the material of our contemporary morality tale. The tale of technological world domination, the bildungsroman of entrepreneurial success, the Faustian pact of progress and the carnival world of the market are all fictions. And of course, culture is now an industry, so that tourism, advertising and education are sites of the production and consumption of poesis and truth.
However, this brings us to problems of distinction: Are all societies alike in creating meaning? Modernity is associated with a dearth of meaning, a decline of poesis and truth becoming singular and univocal – but is this our near-sighted parochialism? Are all elements of society meaning-making? Every human action exists in a nexus of meaning, but it is hardly an undifferentiated continuum, and surely there are particular sources of meaning which deserve academic attention, from poetry, to religion, to authority, to ritual and beyond.
We invite plenary and session papers on:
–          Poetry and truth, theory and meaning.
–          Society as a fictional world: in modernity and beyond.
–          Politics as the contested field of meaning.
–          Poesis and everyday life.
–          The marketplace for meaning and productive poesis.
Deadline for abstracts is Friday 1th of November 2013.
Feel free to contact the convenors earlier for consultation and information