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Four Field Colloquium: Friendship As Moral Experience: Ethnographic Dimensions And Ethical Reflections

Monday, March 17, 2014
4:00 AM
340 West Hall

In this presentation I will explore issues of friendship and moral experience in the ethnographic encounter. Building upon some early observations regarding the place of friendship in fieldwork in the writings of George Devereux and Clifford Geertz, I will attempt to critically assess the limits and possibilities of a friendship-based approach to ethnography by means of a phenomenology of moral experience. In particular, I will set out to investigate particular moments in my own fieldwork on the island of Yap (Federated States of Micronesia) where a friendship has provided opportunities to potentiate an ethical orientation to the concrete complex existence of others that resist reductive forms of closure and typification. I will also examine, however, a number of instances where the epistemological, emotional, political, and intersubjective dynamics underpinning friendship forces us to recognize how intimacies experienced between friends may also present their own problematic potentialities for slipping into partial, limited, and reified orientations to another's existence.

Dr. Jason Throop, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles