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May 20, 2019
3:00pm to 5:00pm
Haines 352 Reading Room
Carolyn Merritt

Please join us on Monday, May 20th, for a conversation with Alessandro Duranti, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at UCLA. Dr. Duranti is a linguistic and phenomenological anthropologist whose research has focused on the role of verbal and visual communication in political arenas, everyday life, and during music performance and rehearsals. He will present a talk titled, “Genesis and Transformations of the Epoché: From Sextus Empiricus to C. Jason Throop.”

Abstract: Inspired by Jason Throop’s (2018) use of his notion of “ethnographic epoché” as the starting point for a renewed dialogue between anthropologists and phenomenologists, I return in this talk to Edmund Husserl’s (1913) introduction of the epoché as the necessary phenomenological method for “putting out of action” or “bracketing” the “natural attitude” or what I’ve previously called the “cultural attitude” (Duranti 2009). A brief comparison of Husserl’s epochéwith the homonymous practice repeatedly mentioned in the Outline of Pyrrhonism by the Skeptic Sextus Empiricus (c. 160-c. 210 CE) will be the starting point of an anthropological perspective on the epoché.  I will also consider Husserl’s reconstruction of the beginning of western philosophy in his 1935 “Vienna Lecture” and in the essays of the same period that were later published as The Crisis of the European Sciences (Husserl 1970). Husserl’s hypothesis about the Ancient Greek notions of theoría (‘being a spectator, contemplating’) and thaumazein (‘wonder, marvel at’) will be evaluated on the basis of the analysis of ancient Greek texts and in light of subsequent contributions, including William Jon Lenkowski’s (1978) proposal for a “passive route” to the epoché, understood not “as the initial banishing of the world,” but as “the active refusal to let the world cease to be a problem” (ib. p. 315). Building on these contributions and my previous discussion of how the “theoretical attitude” (a precursor of the  epoché) can be recognized in a variety of spontaneous activities (Duranti 2018), I hope to be able to invite reflections on the implications for anthropology, and the social sciences more generally, of what emerge as two different conceptualizations of epoché: (a) as spontaneous, and often unconscious, and (b) as achieved (e.g., by conscious reflection).

Established in 2001, MMAC is an interdisciplinary discussion group housed in UCLA's Department of Anthropology. In addition to hosting regular talks and discussions with scholars from UCLA and beyond, the group provides a forum for exploring recent research and classical and contemporary theoretical perspectives that inform psychocultural studies and medical anthropology. 

Regular MMAC participants include faculty in Anthropology, Psychology and related departments, post-doctoral scholars, and interested graduate and undergraduate students. 

Topics explored in recent years include: critical perspectives on health, mental health and illness, healing, memory, emotion, subjectivity & self-processes, religion & spirituality, psychopathology, cultural phenomenology, public health & health disparities, therapeutic applications, research methods & ethics, and psychoanalysis.