Introduction to Volume 8. Place
This article introduces the concept of local cosmologies—bodies of beliefs, perceptions, and values regarding the order of things, always situated, embodied, emergent and contingent. For our purposes, cosmology is the exegesis of worldly (and otherworldly) experience. It is a framework within which the apparent arbitrariness of life takes form and meaning. Cosmology is born of the land and the imagination, and it comes into being in the various performances—from religious ceremonies to rituals of the state—out of which men and women create order of the past and through which they consider the future. It is there that our encounters as researchers begin—but not where they end. The local focuses our attention on the lived, the everyday, the vernacular, but also, and perhaps more significantly, on the immediate. It emphasizes the parts of the world that individuals can and do experience, shape, and narrate. Understanding local cosmologies means understanding not just individual ontological frameworks, but how those frameworks are connected by individuals and groups to and through experience.