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Anthropology and Emotion


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Speaker(s): Dr Andrew Beatty
Chair: Professor Rita Astuti

Recorded on 16 May 2013 in Old Theatre, Old Building.

The centrality of emotion in thought and action is increasingly recognised in the human sciences, though basic questions of definition and scope remain unresolved. Where do emotions begin and end? How should we identify and analyse them? How write about them? Ethnographic fieldwork, as pioneered by Malinowski, offers powerful insights into the place of emotion in social life; but emotions are peculiarly difficult to capture in the generalizing format of case study and ethnographic summary. Andrew Beatty argues that semantic, structural, and discourse-based approaches tend to miss what is most important - what counts for the persons concerned and therefore what makes the emotion. Beatty reviews the conceptual and methodological issues and concludes that only a narrative approach can capture both the particularity and the temporal dimension of emotion, restoring verisimilitude and fidelity to experience.

Andrew Beatty is author of A Shadow Falls: in the heart of Java and a forthcoming ethnographic narrative After the Ancestors.

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