Grant-in-Aid of Research , Artistry and Scholarship A Poetics of Emergence : Imagining Creativity Beyond “ Nature ” and “ Culture ”


A Poetics of Emergence is a book project exploring the possibility of conceiving of creativity, not as an exclusively human capacity (a view sometimes advanced in Euro-American reflections on the topic), but as a relational process operating across the domains of ” nature ” and ” culture. ” Defining creativity broadly as the bringing forth (or ” emergence “) of new forms and/or the transformation of existing ones, the book argues that human beings in diverse times and places have intuited such a continuity between human creativity and the processes shaping the natural world and that these intuitions have found a variety of expressions through mythology, folklore, literature, art, philosophy and science. The book aims to challenge more restrictive definitions of creativity and to open a space for transcultural and transdisciplinary dialogue by developing a comparative account of human imagination and creativity as informed by and participating in the self-creation of the material universe. 1. Category Justification Category #1: untenured faculty in first tenure track appointment, hired 2004, and under review for promotion and tenure during 2008-9 (one year ahead of the University’s stipulated six year period). I have exhausted my startup funds and am seeking support for a major new book project. 2. Present Status of Knowledge: While the terms ” imagined community ” (Anderson 1992) and ” social imaginary ” (Taylor 2004) are now firmly established in the lexicon of the social sciences, recent anthropological literature has begun to inquire more closely into the nature of the role played by imagination and creativity in collective life. Much of this literature has sought to shift discussion of these concepts away from an exclusive focus on the aesthetic realm to consider instead the ways in which imagination and creativity are more broadly implicated in forms of everyday practice (Appadurai 1996; Hallam and Ingold 2007). Some studies, such as Vincent Crapanzano’s Imaginative Horizons (2004), have drawn on comparative anthropological data to explore specific aspects of imagination (in this case the notion of the ” beyond ” or ” hinterland “). Other scholars have considered imagination’s role in the shaping of anthropological knowledge, whether in the writing of ethnographic accounts (Atkinson 1990) or as a basis for creative engagement with other cultural worlds (Hastrup 1995).