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Anthropology and Political Ontology: From Swaziland to Bosnia and Back Again 

Sari Wastell 

University of London, UK 

This talk will explore the purchase of the 'ontological turn' in political anthropology, drawing on the early work of Sari Wastell in Swaziland, and more recent work in Bosnia and Herzegovina and within the International Community since 2005. The question is: What extra mileage does an ontological diagnosis offer to our understanding of the various social protest movements, uprisings, pro-democracy activism and interrogations of neo-liberalism that we are continuing to witness around the globe? If we really took seriously that different worlds might be at play rather than simply different world-views, what new contributions could the ethnographic project offer to the political struggles we are witnessing with increasing frequency? The talk will build on two (seemingly) un-connected and wildly disparate field settings, precisely to explore how the concept and theoretical framing of 'political ontology' can be mobilized in disparate ways to distinct and fruitful ands in various contexts.

November 5, 2015