Hazy worlds: Atmospheric Ontologies in Denmark

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    This article explores the use of light in Denmark as part of shaping atmospheres. It discusses how the words informants use to express a particular atmosphere may have multiple connotations and in essence be defined more by their vagueness than by their clarity. The article argues that, rather than focusing on clear ontological statements, taking informants' lack of clarity at face value offers new ways for the ethnographer to gain insights into material aspects of social life through the concept of atmospheres. Atmospheres denote a sensuous ‘something’ that takes place in-between things and people. They may be ontologically difficult to grasp or to contain, yet they play an important role in ordering spaces and social life. With a focus on the ‘ecstasy’ of things – in this case a light source – as a sensuous encounter of presence, the article argues that both the contemporary focus on the ontology of things within anthropology as well as a post-ANT perspective on performativity, though analytically useful, overlook methodologically how the vagueness of atmospheres foregrounds the contemporaneity and entanglement of matters, minds and cultural preferences of sensing places.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAnthropological Theory
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)257-274
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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