Natalie Smolenski is Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology and History at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Currently, she is a Józef Tischner Junior Visiting Fellow at the IWM.
This paper brings together ways of understanding key theoretical concepts shared across three disciplines: the anthropology of religion (particularly phenomenological anthropology), intersubjective psychoanalysis, and Husserl’s phenomenology in order to propose a methodology for the social scientific study of categorically informed phenomena like religion and nation. These concepts: the subject, intersubjectivity, empathy, and lifeworld are methodological touchstones which move us beyond the “death of the subject” heralded by poststructuralist emphases on governmentality and a metaphysics of absence. Rather, they posit the real presence of living subjects whose patterned behavior and production in a shared yet profoundly multiple world is the result of complex intersubjective attunements and re-/mis-attunements. A methodology of empathic contextual hermeneutics attentive to these conceptual heuristics gives us a procedure by which to understand the emergent nature of social change as it unites problematically separated domains of structure and agency, exteriority and interiority, systems and individuals.