Both the biosciences and the arts and humanities are currently witnessing a resurgence of once-discredited ontologies of vitalism. This paper begins with a comparative inquiry into ways in which ‘life’ is understood in disciplines ranging from anthropology and human geography to architecture and philosophy, showing how they lead to a concept of symbiosis that goes far beyond the associative interactions to which the term conventionally refers in ecological science. The concept is developed along three lines.
The first line is togethering. Togethering entails differentiation, as opposed to diversity. Where diversity leads to a focus on between-ness, in interactive or intersubjective relations between self and other, togethering and differentiation lead to a focus on symbiosis, understood as lives going along together and answering to one another. Where interaction is between, symbiosis goes along in the in-between. This in-between- ness is linked to classical concepts of sympathy, harmony and responsiveness.
The second line is community. In a critical review of the ways ‘community’ has been used in the biological and social sciences, the ideas of ‘biotic community’, ‘hybrid community’ and ‘human community’ are revisited. It is proposed that community be imagined as bound by difference rather than similarity: the ‘community of those who have nothing in common’. Because participants in a community are all different they all have something to give in the ongoing process of living together.
The third line is scholarship. If we start from life, togethering and community, then what are the implications for the practice of scholarly inquiry, in anthropology and related disciplines? What does it mean to study with, rather than make studies of, humans and other beings? How can communities of scholarship go along together in disciplinary symbiosis? As a way of living together, symbiotic scholarship necessarily combines an attitude of curiosity with an ethics of care.
« Anthropologie à Nanterre » est un séminaire d’anthropologie généraliste, organisé par le Laboratoire d’ethnologie et de sociologie comparative et le Département d’anthropologie de l’université Paris Nanterre. Le séminaire a lieu le mardi de 10h à 12h à l’Université Paris Nanterre, Amphithéâtre Max Weber (bâtiment Max Weber, 8 Allée de l'Université, l’Université Paris Nanterre).
Les séances sont ouvertes à tout.e.s. Selon les conditions sanitaires, le nombre de participants sur place pourra être limité mais les séances seront accessibles en visioconférence. Les modalités de participation et d’inscription seront précisées à chaque annonce de séance.