The Semiotics: Culture in Context Workshop is happy to announce our Winter quarter theme.

Each of the papers in our Winter quarter series, as well as ongoing discussion on this blog will be oriented to the problem of…

The Aesthetics and Ethics of Group-ness

Some of the more productive anthropological work of recent years has studied how people constitute themselves as members of collectivities through events of discursive interaction. This quarter, the Semiotics Workshop will reflect on a number of papers that help us see group-ness as a social-semiotic achievement. We propose to use these papers as an opportunity to think critically about two particular and interrelated dimensions of group-making: the aesthetic and the ethical. As we discuss each piece, let us consider the kinds of sensory and moral alignments involved in speakers’ presumptions and performances of collectivity. What do such things as “taste” and “judgement” look like from a sign’s-eye view, and what can this perspective tell us about how actors organize themselves into publics? How might a semiotic approach to these matters help us disentangle the task of describing the phenomenology of group-ness from the problem of providing social-historical accounts of categories and groups?