Theoretical and Methodological Orientation

To examine what this kind of engagement looks like and what it takes to enable it, our inquiry starts with an anthropological orientation. It assumes that the key question of this network, “How do people of conflicting worldviews, memories and future visions encounter each other?”, must be explored in relation to the fine detail of lived life (Geertz, 2000; MacIntyre, 2013). Such an attention to detail is made possible through the art’s capability to look, see, listen and hear (Illingworth, 2017), linguistics’ ability to make visible ritual encounters of civility (Blackledge & Creese, 2018) and acts of meaning making with the other (Kubanyiova, 2019; Kubanyiova & Yue, 2019) and with philosophy’s capacity to flesh out the “thick”, the particular and the culturally integrated development of people’s moral acts of turning towards the other (Flanagan, 2017; Malik, 2014; Waltzer, 1994).

To advance ETHER’s question, we will examine the contribution of aesthetic experience to knowledge in general and to growing human capacity to receive the other (Biesta, 2015) in particular. Conceptualized as a combination of distinctive multimodal forms of knowledge, an emotional experience, and an exercise of the imagination (Guyer, 2014), aesthetic engagement is central to the content, mode and intended outcomes of our inquiry. ETHER seeks to make connections between linguistic, oral, visual and performative modes of inquiry and cultural expression that are typically isolated from one another in research, but which promise to shed significant new light on the key question of this research network.