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Book Launch: Richard Werbner

January 19 2016 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm



Divination’s Grasp: Uncertainty and the Intersubjective Predicament

Prof Richard Werbner, Emeritus Professor in African Anthropology, University of Manchester

Tuesday 19 January at 5.30pm

This lecture introduces the launch of Divination’s Grasp (2016, Indiana University Press), a book I began in fieldwork in 1972 among Moremi villagers in the Tswapong Hills of central Botswana.  I want to turn our attention to a basic predicament in consultations between the wise expert and his client, for the sake of diagnosis and well-being. The predicament is that of the precarious and the vulnerable in the making of subjectivities. It is a fundamental predicament, when it comes to consulting about hidden truth with a wise expert. The wise expert guides the consultation towards revelation; and the client participates on the understanding that without the other, the wise expert, he cannot truly know himself nor others and his social situation. Yet the expert is not the client. Their separation, like their difference in wisdom and professional experience, makes their intersubjectivity problematic, something vulnerable that might be at risk from moment to moment, during a consultation as well as after it.

Vulnerability in consultations raises many questions. How is the client to feel sure that practical wisdom – truth at once sound and useful- is emerging during a consultation under the wise expert’s guidance? How does the wise expert sustain trust, faith in the cogency of the consultation, in his own eyes no less than in the client’s?  If concerned about the past in the client’s life, how does the wise expert let the past become not intractable and hidden from consciousness but positively transformed; that is, seen and felt to be treatable, perhaps already under control. Even more, if that transformation is to be grasped compellingly, how do consultations cope with the almost said? How do they proceed toward the persuasive embodiment, the visceral sense of personal understandings, in the face of the uncertainties, the gaps, and the incompleteness of ordinary knowledge?

In addressing these and other related questions, this lecture will draw on clips from two of my films, “Séance Reflections with Richard Werbner” (2005) and “Shade Seekers and the Mixer”. Both are distributed by the Royal Anthropological Institute.

Copies of Divination’s Grasp will be available on the day at a 40% discount.

The event is free, but tickets must be booked. To book tickets please go to http://werbner.eventbrite.co.uk


January 19 2016
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
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