Examining Consciousness in Times of Unrest

SAC members are committed to being at the forefront of what we are witnessing as awareness, perception, and intersubjective understandings change radically.

The multivalent interests of the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness (SAC) continue to address the issues of our times. Our focus includes topics traditionally associated with the SAC, such as altered states of consciousness and shamanism, as well as other social and political issues, such as the effects of war and the militarization of communities, the discourse on and effects of climate change, and the relationship between consciousness and neuroscience.

SAC members engage in questions that address how humans, as social and political beings, contextualize and understand phenomena that have wide ranging effects and relevance. These subjects are germane to all who are interested in exploring how consciousness, on the level of both individuals and collectives, is affected by the current social and political moment.

Dreams, place-making, and consciousness 

Our 2015 and 2016 Spring Conferences emphasized the themes of exploring consciousness on the levels of both the individual and collective. Our 2015 meeting focused on the importance of dreaming as an essential state of consciousness. The theme of the conference focused on philosopher Michel Foucault’s statement of the necessity of dreams and reflected on the dangers presented when “dreams dry up.” Our 2015 meeting investigated, explored, and celebrated the “state” of dreaming on individual and collective levels and provided participants with essential tools to take home and work with in their communities. Similarly, our 2016 Spring Conference extended the discussion of dreaming and envisioning by examining Keith Basso’s notion that “Wisdom Sits in Places.” We examined how place making involves multiple acts of remembering and imagining, which inform each other in intricate ways. We also discussed the ways in which people remember and imagine the realms in which they live and understand the processes of environmental degradation, climate change, and social inequality that serve as topographic imprints on the landscapes in which they live.

The here and now

At the close of both meetings, there seemed to be unanimous agreement that the times that we live in mandate a shift in consciousness. This agreement is not unfounded: many living in the United States and elsewhere have taken to the streets to protest and ritualize their disgust with the social, political, and ecological crises that continue to oppress people daily. Regardless of political affiliation, we can say with a measure of confidence that political consciousness in the US is changing. While we cannot predict how this transformation will unfurl, SAC members are committed to being at the forefront of what we are witnessing as awareness, perception, and intersubjective understandings change radically.

In the wake of changing modes of consciousness, we invite all who are interested to join us in our ongoing investigation of how these various modes of consciousness are transforming individual and collective subjectivities. We urge you to join us in exploring how these changes form the basis of a more public anthropology—an area in which all who are interested can participate.

Nicole I. Torres (Inner Tapestries Counseling and Consultation, [email protected]) is the contributing editor for the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness.

Cite as: Torres, Nicole I. 2017. “Examining Consciousness in Times of Unrest.” Anthropology News website, August 4, 2017. doi: 10.1111/AN.557

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