Ethics, Affect and Moral Judgement amidst Momentous Change in Laos


Double Panel

Part 1

Session 5
Wed 09:00-10:30 REC A2.06

Part 2

Session 6
Wed 11:00-12:30 REC A2.06


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This double-session panel answers recent calls for “continued and heightened attention” to the way culturally-specific concepts and values animate politics as lived in Laos today (High 2022:55). It will offer a series of ethnographic case studies that highlight the role of affect and ethical judgement in engagements with socio-economic transformation in contemporary Laos. This panel enquires into the culturally-specific resources, narratives and histories people in Laos draw on to make sense of and morally evaluate fast-paced change in their everyday lives. What role do affect, aesthetics, memories and histories play in these ethical judgements? How do sentiments like awe, scepticism, fear, aspiration and nostalgia shape commentary on/engagement with ongoing social, cultural and economic transformations?

Tackling these questions, this panel will take a participant observation-based approach, showing how values and locally/culturally-specific concepts connect with how things “really happen”. Supplementing political economy and political science approaches, it highlights the importance of ethnographic approaches to the study of politics, public opinion and ethics in Laos and the region more broadly.