Keynote: “The politics of evidence in an uncertain world: experience, knowledge, social facts and factual truth.” SIEF2019 14th Congress Santiago de Compostela, Spain 14-17 April 2019
The politics of evidence in an uncertain world: experience, knowledge, social facts and factual truth.
Susana Narotzky (Universitat de Barcelona)
April 14, 17:50-20:00
Knowledge is never self-evident and is always a struggle about evidence: what is made to exist and what is not; what counts and doesn’t count. It is part of the politics of evidence. We need to unravel the processes of valuation that create truth values in a field of power.
We live in times of uncertainty. In Europe, a relatively stable political-economic system established after World War II enabled the development of capitalism while ensuring livelihood security and expectations of social mobility for the majority. If we look to other continents or even deeper between the cracks of what has become self-evident knowledge, the narrative of stability and sudden breakdown wavers. Knowledge is never self-evident and is always a struggle about evidence: what is made to exist and what is not; what counts and doesn’t count. It is part of the politics of evidence.
What is to count as evidence, however, in our new technological and post-truth epistemological age where the boundaries between subject and object have apparently collapsed, and the reference to factual truth is inconsistent? Here I wish to address the tension between experience, knowledge, and evidence in fields of power. How is experience valued, and what kind of knowledge about society does it produce? I will explore the different kinds of knowledge that we encounter in the field and how we might engage with them as anthropologists trying to understand what social facts are and the value they have as evidence in political argument and struggle. I suggest we need to unravel the processes of valuation that create truth values, the processes that challenge them, and the processes that foster indeterminacy in the field of evidence struggles.
Track Changes: Reflecting on a Transforming World
The 14th international SIEF congress took place in Santiago de Compostela, the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia in northwestern Spain and the destination of the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James), one of the most important pilgrimage routes from medieval times. There could be no better place than Santiago de Compostela to host a conference for those well versed in the science and art of observing and analysing human tracks – ethnologists, folklorists, anthropologists and other trackers of culture. The congress’ theme Track Changes: Reflecting on a Transforming World drew upon both the ethnological explorations of human life and its continual change as well as the transforming, yet constant, Camino.