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Meeting Place

The Human Encounter and the Challenge of Coexistence

2013
Author:

Paul Carter

Meeting Place

Do we really need to encounter others?

In this remarkable and often dazzling book, Paul Carter explores the conditions for sociability in a globalized future. He argues that we make many assumptions about communication but overlook barriers to understanding between strangers as well as the importance of improvisation in overcoming these obstacles to meeting, offering novel ways of presenting the philosophical dimensions of waiting, meeting, and non-meeting.

Paul Carter's commentaries on cross-cultural encounters have long been philosophically sophisticated and deservedly influential. His new book raises the question of what the value of meeting is, in whose terms. It takes us to the very heart of the histories of encounter and confrontation that have proven so intractable for so long in Australia and elsewhere.

Nicholas Thomas, University of Cambridge

In this remarkable and often dazzling book, Paul Carter explores the conditions for sociability in a globalized future. He argues that we make many assumptions about communication but overlook barriers to understanding between strangers as well as the importance of improvisation in overcoming these obstacles to meeting. While disciplines such as sociology, legal studies, psychology, political theory, and even urban planning treat meeting as a good in its own right, they fail to provide a model of what makes meeting possible and worth pursuing: a yearning for encounter.

The volume’s central narrative—between Northern cultural philosophers and Australian societies—traverses the troubled history of misinterpretation that is characteristic of colonial cross-cultural encounter. As he brings the literature of Indigenous and non-Indigenous anthropological research into dialogue with Western approaches of conceptualizing sociability, Carter makes a startling discovery: that meeting may not be desirable and, if it is, its primary objective may be to negotiate a future of non-meeting.

To explain the phenomenon of encounter, Carter performs it in differing scales, spaces, languages, tropes, and forms of knowledge, staging in the very language of the book what he calls “passages.” In widely varying contexts, these passages posit the disjunction of Greco-Roman and Indigenous languages, codes, theatrics of power, social systems, and visions of community. In an era of new forms of technosocialization, Carter offers novel ways of presenting the philosophical dimensions of waiting, meeting, and non-meeting.

Meeting Place

Paul Carter is professor of design (urbanism) at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of The Road to Botany Bay: An Exploration of Landscape and History (Minnesota, 2010).

Meeting Place

Paul Carter's commentaries on cross-cultural encounters have long been philosophically sophisticated and deservedly influential. His new book raises the question of what the value of meeting is, in whose terms. It takes us to the very heart of the histories of encounter and confrontation that have proven so intractable for so long in Australia and elsewhere.

Nicholas Thomas, University of Cambridge

The Meeting Place, Carter’s latest foray into colonial and postcolonial encounters of peoples, epistemologies, and longings, exposes what he foregrounds and reiterates as a ‘meeting place’ of desired belonging and social union. It is an imaginative, referentially capacious, formally demanding, as well as theoretically inventive book.

Rob Wilson, University of California, Santa Cruz

Meeting Place

Contents

Response
Borderline
Aside
Rendez-vous
Hollowed Out
Cladding
Catching Up
Echo Location
Scales
Over and Above
Thirdings
All Change
Liaisons
Singing Through
X Marks the Spot
G/hosts
Enigma Variations
In Passing
Pigeon Holes
Erotic Zones
First Impressions
Within a Cooee
Dangerous
I Read Marx (I Don’t)
Terminal
Middle Ground
Blind Spot
Save the Wall
All Ears
I Have Wondered beyond Absolutes
Accompaniment
Proxy

Notes
Index

Meeting Place

DISCUSSION GUIDE

 

UMP blog: On the challenge of co-existence.

Meeting Place is like its subject: where people meet, there are always many voices and views. So Meeting Place brings together stories, insights, beliefs and experiences from many different times and traditions. And what counts in understanding the growth of sociability is not just the mystery of how different people communicate and translate their desires: it’s how they get there.

Read the full article.