In this article, Baxstrom interrogates how dwellings constitute a force in ordinary urban environments in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He argues that such forces are activated relationally via the demand for interpretation that structures elicit from the human beings who build, inhabit, and circulate within and between them. Following Miguel Tamen, Baxstrom regards the act of interpretation as a process of person-making. This claim resembles Tim Ingold’s revised concept of animism, although this article ultimately resists the use of this concept, as it appears to confuse personhood with life. Rather, the force that dwellings possess in urban environments such as Kuala Lumpur is located in the fact that they are often perceived as nonhuman, nonliving persons capable of exerting certain forms of force proper to them within these environments. In sum, this article is a reflection on the personhood of things, the various intensities of force that such thing-persons exert on human forms of living, and the outcomes that result when this ability to act disrupts or contradicts the interpretative frameworks that made them agents of sorts in the first place.
Research Article|December 01 2017
- Views Icon Views
Richard Baxstrom; Force, Dwelling, and the Personhood of Things in Urban Malaysia. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 December 2017; 37 (3): 437–445. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201x-4279140
Download citation file:
- Share Icon Share