Powerful Communities: Moving away from power over (Potentas) to power to/with (Potentia)

Anthropology Research Seminar

Ida Wentzel Winther, Lektor, Ph.D ved Pædagogisk Antropologi, Aarhus Universitet, Danmark.

My presentation is based on a recently launched project about powerful communities. The idea behind this is that life force seems to be in short supply in times when the planet's crises are lining up: The planet is boiling, it is depleted and overheated, and both biological and cultural diversity are under pressure. Stress, unhappiness and mental health issues are common diseases, and many young people feel powerless, over-individualised and inadequate. It seems as if many of us have repressed our primal/life force or lost important axes of resonance in our relationship with the world.

But there are also powerful communities and vibrant people who are driven by something more, where action, intimacy and dignity are ways to try to change the world without taking power. The questions arise: Is vibrancy inherent? When and how does it originate, nurture and articulate? Being preoccupied with life force is by no means new. Just think of Aristotle and Spinoza, Nietzsche, Bergson, Deleuze, Artaud and Bennett and others. Or the international social change movements' talk of potentia (power-to, power-with) rather than potestas (power-over) (Nelson & Wright 1995; Holloway 2005).

The aim is to investigate, sensually and multisensorially, how power is practised. Not as intellectual power, but concretely how different communities move away from power over and towards power to/power with; away from exploitation, growth and powerlessness, towards more nurturing and life-giving approaches.

I've just returned from a little fieldwork in southern Mexico, and I'd love to share my initial ideas with you and hear about your experiences with similar projects and approaches.

When: 19.04.24 kl 10.15–12.00
Where: B-1003
Location / Campus: Tromsø
Target group: Ansatte, Studenter, Besøkende, Enhet
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