Things are working out very well conference-wise: the abstract I submitted for the panel on
Everyday stuff: narrating the social lives of material objects of the annual meeting of the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association (CSAA) in Toronto, May 30th – June 2nd, has just been accepted. The abstract:
This contribution will unfold the life of an artifact on the border: the door. Based on field observations and digital video recordings of doors and their use in railway and ferry terminals I want to present the door as an entity that participates in the everyday lives of commuters and travelers, old and young, men and women. The door has many aspects that make it a very peculiar and highly interesting object of study for researchers in the social sciences. One of the most prominent aspects is its inherent duality – it is one of the most basic devices of exclusion and inclusion. It can be inviting and open but it can also shut out the unwelcome or unable. The door establishes a visual and material barrier that has to be taken to access whatever lies on the other side. But the door also is a mundane technological artifact with quite specific properties depending on the way it is designed. Sliding doors make up a very thin barrier while revolving doors cover a large amount of space. Doors may work automatically or be pushed and pulled by the hands, feet and shoulders of the people that walk or roll trough them. The presentation will focus on the way in which the life of different kinds of doors is intertwined with the lives of the people that use them. Some of the stories that will be told are linear narrations that talk about reaching a goal lying far away from the door itself. Other stories will be of a more Kafkaesque nature – they will revolve around doors that confront some people with a weakness they probably do not like to display in public while others pass through seemingly undisturbed, pursuing their everyday lives and ignoring the door as an entity with its own curious life. Telling these stories, the presentation will alternate between talk, the showing of video clips, and still photographs of doors or the people using them. Particular focus will be put on the social reconfigurations that happen in contact with the door.
The only backdraw is the funding. I do not have any money to pay for the flight and the conference fees. To my shock, the four month deadline for the German Research Foundation’s (DFG) conference grants has passed one week ago. Perhaps they will accept a late submission, but probably not. I’ll have to look for other sources, which probably won’t be easy to find…