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Image: Woman closing the living room door at a geriatric evaluation and management (GEM) ward at Sunshine Hospital, located in Melbourne's western suburbs in Australia.  (ABC News: Margaret Burin)

The term “alterity” has often been associated with the major ruptures that open between the familiar and ways-of-life that have become discursively exoticized or “othered”, natures or worlds that are taken to be ontologically incommensurable, or the infinitely Other person who radically unsettles all circuits of selfhood and familiarity. Contrary to such dramatic accounts of alterity, this talk gives an account of alterity as it issues forth in the minute interruptions that interweave and give shape to everyday life at a dementia ward in Denmark. While these interruptions are still charged with an anarchic alterity, they most often do not result in obtrusive, absolute disruptions. Instead, they form sites of potency as they open new planes of coexistence in between people. Hence, if intimacy, as indeed the word suggests etymologically, is about dwelling together in a shared in-between space—an intus, an inter—then these minute interruptions charged with anarchic alterity form the very locus of intimacy. Understanding the “intimacy” of those intimate others who undertake long term care along these lines, care ethics turns out to be a liminal ethics: an ethics of embracing and navigating the minute interruptions of the everyday.

To download a PDF of the poster, click here.

  Rasmus Dyring                                       

Rasmus Dyring is assistant professor of philosophy at Aarhus University, Denmark and visiting scholar at the Department of Anthropology at the University of Virginia in the fall of 2019. With a point of departure in the borderland between critical phenomenology and anthropology—notably the anthropology of ethics and ontological anthropology—Dyring’s work explores the ontological dynamics at work in ethical experience and communitary life. At the moment, Dyring is developing a series of new works building on fieldwork he did at a dementia ward in Denmark as part of a project on the critical phenomenology of aging. Dyring has recently published “From Moral Facts to Human Finitude: On the Problem of Freedom in the Anthropology of Ethics” in HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory (2018) and “The Provocation of Freedom” found in the book Moral Engines: Exploring the Ethical Drives in Humans Life (Berghahn Books, 2018), which Dyring also co-edited with Cheryl Mattingly, Maria Louw and Thomas Schwarz Wentzer.