Keynote by Stephanie Spray (2021)

  • Keynote
  • 60min


Maintenance and the art of necessity or: how visual anthropology could envision a viable future

While resilience is praised as an ability to persevere in times of crisis, the labor of maintenance that forges this capacity is often overlooked because it originates from a kind of nonheroic agency. This keynote calls our attention to the underappreciated work of maintenance as an ethical as well as a creative practice. Maintenance is here conceived not as a defensive measure against change, such as the maintenance of power relations, but the very labor that occurs in the background to sustain life and relationships and, thus, enable social transformation. How might visual anthropologists attune themselves to this simple and yet radical mode of world-making to envision a more viable future?

Stephanie Spray, Visiting Associate Professor of Anthropology and Cinematic Arts, Director, Center for Visual Anthropology at USC Dornsife, Los Angeles, USA. She is a filmmaker, phonographer, and anthropologist whose work explores and exploits the poetics of everyday life with a regional specialty in Nepal and more recent work related to climate change, the environment, and scientific research.

Live Q&As with Spray will take place on Zoom 19-28 March. Find the full schedule of live events and links to join here