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Research in Progress: Annamaria Dall’Anese

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Royal Anthropological Institute

50 Fitzroy Street

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W1T 5BT

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RESEARCH IN PROGRESS SEMINAR SERIES AT THE ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE

Thursday 16 January 2020, 4.00pm

Refocussing the Self: Life After and Beyond Sight Loss

Annamaria Dall’Anese, UCL

Abstract:
Adventitious sight loss often leads to reduced employability or unemployment. In a British context, where success at work is one of the main factors influencing personal fulfilment, this may provoke a crisis whose consequences extend beyond the professional domain. This paper, based on ethnographic research carried out among blind and partially sighted people in an English metropolis, offers some insights into how individuals affected by ophthalmological conditions redefine their personal histories. I present two case studies: that of a successful financial professional who crafted a new diary, and a new self, following medical retirement, and that of a young man who discovered his vocation as a storyteller after sudden loss of sight. Far from being obliterated from their life narratives, sight loss is woven into them to reframe not only their professional, but also their moral trajectories. Moreover, both personal stories show how harnessing disability can bring benefits not only to the individuals affected by it, but also to those who surround them.

This study contributes to the medical anthropology literature on therapeutic employment by illustrating how this process can work on the level of one’s lived experience, as well as on a narrative level. It also challenges the entrenched belief in Western thought that disability is a threat to productivity and a social burden.

About Research in Progress:
"Research in Progress" is a special seminar series of presentations by PhD candidates, Post-Docs and Early Career researchers. Its aim is to share work, get feedback in a supportive environment, and build new networks that cut across universities, sub-disciplines and hierarchies. Seminars are chaired by peers on a rotational basis and take the form of the presentation of a piece of written work followed by lots of discussion and refreshments. Seminars are free and everyone is welcome, although booking is advised.

Early career anthropologists from all sub-disciplines are encouraged to present their work. Please contact Gemma Aellah, RAI Research Officer on gaellah@therai.org.uk for more information about the series. Please include a title, abstract of max 250 words and a suggested date. Presenters need to be Fellows or Student Fellows of the RAI, but attendance is open to all.

To sign up for our event emails please go to http://eepurl.com/DNdKT.

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Royal Anthropological Institute

50 Fitzroy Street

London

W1T 5BT

United Kingdom

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