Ghassan Hage is Future Generation Professor of Anthropology and Social Theory at the University of Melbourne. He has held several visiting professorships including at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, the American University of Beirut, University of Copenhagen, Harvard and University of Amsterdam. He is the author of many books and articles dealing with migration, multiculturalism, nationalism and social and anthropological theory. His books include White Nation (Routledge 2000), Against Paranoid Nationalism (Pluto Press 2003), Waiting (edited collection, Melbourne University Press 2009), Alter-Politics (Melbourne University Press 2015) and Are Racists Responsible for Global Warming? (Forthcoming, Polity Press 2016).
“Lenticularity: On the Entanglement of Realities”
A lenticular is an image that appears differently depending on how you look at it. Think of the granulated postcards that change images depending on the angle from which they are seen: smiling face/frowning face, Harbour Bridge/Opera House, Jesus/Mary. In contrast with the single image/reality captured in the common photograph the lenticular surface contains a multiplicity of images/realities that reveal themselves perspectively. It should be stressed that the lenticular surface does not offer one image that looks differently according to how you look at it, it contains many (usually two and sometimes three) images/realities that only come forth from a particular perspective in the process of encountering the surface. In this paper based on ethnographic material on the culture of the Lebanese diaspora and the world of indigenous Australians, I want to argue against an unreflexively assumed mono-realism that social and cultural analysis takes as a default position. Instead I want to argue that social subjects are always faced with a lenticular multi-ontological world, with what Lucien Levy-Bruhl calls ‘l’enchevêtrement des réalités’, the entanglement of realities.