What was the most important lesson I’ve learned in 2014?
I believe it was that only if we confront ourselves with truly alien cultures and ontologies can we seriously reflect on the very nature of our own understanding of humanness and deconstruct what was disguised as ‘nature’ or ‘natural’.
In the words of social anthropologist Stephen Hugh-Jones, we need “fine-grained ethnography, one that returns us to the messy, lived worlds and not always tidy and consistent views of real peoples. This return to the ground not only mediates between structuralism and phenomenology but also reminds us of the limitations of Western categories applied to non-Western contexts – like ships that carry invasive alien species to our shores, these categories sometimes carry unwanted freight”.
In order to understand our own self, we need to be open to understand otherness, embrace it, learn from it and not be afraid to contradict ourselves and challenge established notions and beliefs.
It is this openness to otherness that I will strive to develop further in 2015, that is my new year’s resolution.