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Loneliness x Solitude - Sonia Zhang on the problematization of loneliness

April 6, 2022
6:00 pm

PhD students Sonia Yuhui Zhang and Cedric Williams discuss problems in fieldwork on Loneliness and Solitude.

Loneliness has been intensely discussed in the past few years as a highly problematic affect that causes physical and mental health issues, social challenges and political extremism. Has this always been the way we understand loneliness? What do these conversations tell us about sociality and relatedness, topics that preoccupy many social sciences disciplines? I will share some work on how loneliness becomes defined as a “problem”, through medicalisation, quantification, and public discourse in the U.K. and the U.S. I will then discuss the challenges of investigating these claims in a fieldwork setting, diving into the linguistic ambiguities of loneliness and solitude, subjectivity and the senses, and technological translations of social discourses.

Solitude, The Eleanor and Mabel Van Alstyne American Folk Art Collection,
National Museum of American History, Smithsonian, Public Domain.

Virtual (click for the Zoom link)