Curious about others: relational and empathetic curiosity for diverse societies

Spring 2016

Sociable curiosity - wondering and finding out about others (empathetic curiosity), and being curious with them (relational curiosity) - can draw people together, bridging differences and social distances. This promises more than the distant connections that are increasingly recognised and endorsed as mechanisms of coping with diversity and living within societies that have been characterised as diverse. It reaches towards more active and definite engagement with others. But curiosity - associated as it is with taxonomy and therefore with exploring and sometimes disrupting and recasting categories - can also be a vehicle for more fundamental explorations of social difference. Understandings of sociable curiosity are distilled in this paper through readings of theoretical literature on curiosity, wonder and taxonomy, and through a series of more tangible encounters, drawn from experiences of anti-war activism and museum projects in the UK, which bring sociable curiosity into focus.

New Formations 88: Markets and Machines