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Issues in Sociocultural Anthropology -Andrea Gevurtz Arai
WhenFriday, Mar. 2, 2018, 12 – 1:30 p.m.
Campus room311
Event typesLectures/Seminars
Event sponsorsAnth 508

Andrea Gevurtz Arai (Visiting Lecturer, International Studies, UW).

"What do “DIO” Creators and Heterotopic Spaces Want?: Toward an Anthropology of Assembly in Hyogo and Haenam (Genoa and Detroit)"

This talk opens with the vacant spaces problem in regional and countryside areas in Japan and South Korea. I focus on the revaluing, rebuilding and re-inhabiting of these spaces by (late 1990s) recessionary generation urban “migrants.” These young peoples’ exiting of metropolitan cities and turning to local places represents a turning away from gendered and spatialized divisions of labor, educational hierarchies, and an increasingly criminalized time-of-the-immediate regime of value production that offloads risk onto the individual and makes them the problem. The do-it-ourselves spaces these young migrants gather together to imagine, plan, renovate and create in formerly marginalized, depopulated places are transformed sites of resistance. Examples include: an anchor of public culture local cinema slated for destruction, DIO crowdfunded and rebuilt as hub of free film education, international viewing and events; vacated school buildings rebuilt by migrant artists as sites for art education, workshops and reimagining connection and community; vacated old homes restored as guest houses that sponsor re-learning, reviving and adding to local craft traditions; vegetable container hand built cafes that serve as meeting places across generations and generational time; the DIO created “beautiful world” village and activist center in the southwest of Korea and many more.

Reclaiming the means of production, creating a new aesthetics of life, and in the words of Hardt and Negri--taking power and “the word” (prendre la parole) differently—DIO “migrants” and their spaces of difference seek the revitalization of subjectivities and the common. In this talk, I consider how these practices exemplify and particularize Hardt and Negri’s “assembly,” David Harvey on Lefebvre’s “heterotopic spaces” in which “something different is not only possible but foundational;” the late literary critic Maeda Ai’s “production in space” and more. How does the specificity and unevenness of historical trajectories affect the accumulation, articulation and materialization of sites of resistance and assembly? Engaging with movement and material practices in various locations, I consider the resonances between vacant spaces (akiya) in Japan, “grey spaces” in Detroit, “creative urbanity” in Genoa. I ask about the possibilities of the “political entrepreneur” and “the migrant” across socio-historical contexts and the potential problems for heterotopic spaces and assembly of the commodification of resistance and re-management and containment strategies of local governments.

I conclude with some reflections on the contributions of ethnography to the struggle over concepts, open up of spaces of possibility and an anthropology of assembly and resistance.…
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