What are the contours and meanings of sacrifice and care in troubled times? In this talk, Merav Shohet explores both the affordances and violence involved in acts of care and sacrifice among multi-generational families who survived war, illness, and massive political and economic upheavals in Vietnam. Highlighting the role of silence in experiences of suffering in everyday and troubled lives, she examines how family members narratively navigate conflicting commitments to those whom they are expected to love while affirming or contesting local versions of justice. Through a close analysis of stories and video-recorded interactions of care for the dying, Merav Shohet challenges the prevailing anthropological idea that sacrifice is solely a blood-filled religious ritual or patriotic act. Women’s and children’s routine sacrifices precariously knit kin together by silencing their suffering and reifying cross-cutting gender, age, class, and political hierarchies. These invite us to reflect on how the ordinary ethic of sacrifice help family members forge a sense of continuity in the face of trauma and decades of turbulence and change.
Merav Shohet, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Boston University
Free and open to the public; registration required. Please visit the event webpage for additional information. Hosted by the New York Academy of Sciences.