DEBILITIES OF POWER: PERILS AND PUNISHMENTS OF THE EXPERIENCE OF PRIVILEGE

Friday, November 20, 2015: 10:15 AM-12:00 PM

Centennial C (Hyatt Regency)

Debilities of Power is a session focused on the ways in which superordinate social positions weaken, delimit, constrain, or otherwise negatively affect those who otherwise benefit from them in many other ways. Using a comparative ethnographic approach spanning multiple axes of privilege and marginalization, including race, gender, class, legal status, and sexuality, we will present data, questions and claims on how forms of power hurt those who exercise it over others. The ‘privileged’ here include white newcomers to gentrifying neighborhoods in Chicago, a Russian immigrant detained in a Michigan migrant detention center, the black middle class in mixed income housing, and Black Township men in an era of new national initiatives for gender equality in South Africa. These respondents show the effects of fear, socio-spatial restrictions, and a comparative weakening of social ties, forms of learning and adaptation, inclusion in resAMrce exchange, and community bonds, and subjectively reported negative affect and malaise. For example, an economic downturn hits the wealthier residents of Lake Park Crescent in qualitatively different ways, since they do not benefit from the forms of resource exchange that enable their lower income neighbors to survive. Without reverting to the ‘search for natural laws’ of early anthropology, our efforts nonetheless point toward an interesting lacuna in normalized analytics of the critique of power and the humanization of those victimized, by turning the lens on how power weakens and delimits those it also rewards. The session spans regions, social milieus, and objects of study, and will include a workshop element that allows audience members to interrogate the ideas presented and engage in a more active dialogue throughout rather than a traditional panel. In the spirit of the conference theme of “Familiar Strange,” we flip both conventional and academic scripts on what power truly means.

This session would be of particular interest to:
Practicing and Applied Anthropologists

Organizers:  Judith Lynn Singleton (Northwestern University)

Chairs:  Jesse Mumm (Northeastern Illinois University)

Discussants:  Jesse Mumm (Northeastern Illinois University)

10:15 AM
Imagining Sacred Spaces: African American Consciousness and Tourism in Trinidad’s ‘Company Villages’ 
Stephen D Glazier (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

10:30 AM
The Chill of the White Citadel: Gentrification, Race, and the Drawbacks of Privilege  Jesse Mumm (Northeastern Illinois University)

10:45 AM
An Era of Gender Equality?: The State of Black Township Men in Post-Apartheid South Africa  Judith Lynn Singleton (Northwestern University)

11:00 AM
Oversight & Weak TIES: Social Interaction in a MIXED Income Housing Development Clinton Nichols III (Dominican University)

11:15 AM
Discussant Jesse Mumm (Northeastern Illinois University)

11:30 AM
Discussion 

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