Working Session: Pacific Ethnography and Controlled Equivocation
This was a new session in 2017 and it drew about ten people. “Controlled equivocation” is a concept that features prominently in anthropology’s “ontological turn,” so a fair amount of our conversation was invested in determining just what that turn is and what’s new or different about it. There was some skepticism in the room around those questions, which was to be expected, but
generally the conversation focused on the many various ways that we thought we were doing this kind of “ontological anthropology,” whether or not we cared to identify it in that way. Needless to say, this discussion remains open and unsettled. Ultimately the conversation arrived at our original specific intention, which was to imagine and debate practices of comparison that are indigenous
to the Pacific and how they might challenge or inspire ethnographic practices of comparison—in other words, we were comparing comparisons. We have had some initial conversations in the last month in the hopes of publishing something this year. But we also plan to convene again in New Orleans around this specific question of comparison in the Pacific and as well as the ontological turn in anthropology more generally.
Jake Culbertson, UC Davis <firstname.lastname@example.org>;
Albert Refiti, Auckland University of Technology <email@example.com>