As a Network of the European Association of Social Anthropologists we are having our biannual meeting on Monday July 20 at 5pm Lisbon time. Participation is free, and we will discuss the last two years, the future plans for the Network of Ethnographic Theory, and vote on new convenors. You can join us here: https://shindig.com/login/event/easanet-net
[Correction: Previously listed as 4pm (CEST), it’s actually 5pm (CEST)!]
Social processes take place across varied temporal frameworks, timings and paces. Future orientated action is often challenged by human and non-human actors who follow competing temporal logics. This panel explores the confrontation of different futures under conditions of constraint and coercion.
Critical Kashmir scholars offer a capacious ethnographic “field” and archive that speaks to the silences and fabrications of scholarship tinted and tainted by majoritarian ideologies. Taking this to be ethnographic theory is the practice of decolonizing anthropology.
Dear Members and Friends of the Network of Ethnographic Theory,
Just a reminder
that the deadline for panel proposals for the next EASA conference is fast
approaching! Are you thinking of submitting a panel? Do you think it would fit
the interests of the NET? We welcome submissions for our Network of
Ethnographic Theory panel at the 16th EASA Biennial Conference, 21-24 July
2020 in Lisbon, on the conference’s theme of “New anthropological horizons in
and beyond Europe.” It is worth noting that the panel we select is guaranteed
to be accepted at the conference! We are interested in panel submissions that
engage ethnographic theory in new and interesting ways. And we welcome panel
submissions that move beyond the classic format. Proposals should consist of a
panel title a short abstract of less than 250 words, and should be submitted to
us by October 15th (leaving us the time to make a selection and
you submit to the EASA by October 21).
/Call for NET-sponsored panels at the EASA Conference in 2020
The next EASA conference is coming up in Lisbon in July 2020! The Call for Panels is now open, with a great variety of options beyond the classic format. Are you thinking of submitting a panel? Do you think it would fit the interest of the NET? We are happy to sponsor a selected number of panels. Please note that this year, the regulation changed and networks cannot be guaranteed an accepted panel. If you would like to increase your outreach, we warmly invite you to send us your panel proposal before October 10 (leaving us the time to make a selection and you submit to the EASA by October 21).
/Report on the NET Panel at the Biennial Conference of the Finnish Anthropological Society 29-30 August 2019
A quick note to thank everyone for participating in our EASA sponsored panel “Anthropologies, Futures and Prediction” at the Biennial Conference of the Finnish Anthropological Society 29-30 August 2019, in Helsinki. We were delighted to have fantastic papers and visual media on futurist aesthetics in Bolivia (Karl Swinehart), forced departures and uncertainty of asylum seekers in Germany (Sonja Moghaddari), the future imaginaries of asbestos victims and activists in Italy (Agata Mazzeo), to forms of abstraction surrounding extrajudicial killings in the Philippines (Scott MacLochlainn), and neo-rural futures in France (Ieva Snikersproge). And to top it off, we had the wonderful Felix Ringel as a discussant! We particularly liked exploring theoretical issues through ethnographic video and photos in our second session. Many thanks again to everyone!
Girish Daswani’s blog on the “continuing presence of an elite, masculine, and imperial habitus within the discipline, which has been […] internalized by all of us, even non-white anthropologists” and the need to decolonialize anthropology.
Here we are again with our monthly digest of readings that
inspired us! For those of you who didn’t yet do so, check out also our recent
guest reading list on “The
Ethics of Care” by Patrick McKearney! Have a great summer, everyone!
Check out the new ejournal Roadsites, on
the social life of infrastructure and a first issue on temporalities.
Another recent ethnography-centered journal – in French
mostly but partly also in English – is the Revue Terrain. Note in
particular the recent collective
issue on Apocalypses curated by Matthew Carey. They also have an
Dear all, June is here and here is also this month’s digest with some work we find inspiring.
Inspiring is also what we would like this website to be like, and if you feel you would like to contribute to this with a guest blog or a guest reading list (maybe you have some time to write this summer?), you are more than welcome. Just get in touch with us!
Our Digest for May…some plants, animals and the non-human. A free e-book on tobacco, others on ethnographic film archive, links to blogs and interviews on subjects such as decolonizing the classroom, intimacy and ecologies!
Doing ethnography with and around plants? Check out the plant ethnography special edition at Anthropology Today.
While thinking plants, let’s think some animals this month:
Cultural anthropology’s “Embodies ecologies” series curated by Andrea Ford, probes “the relationship between changing bio-scientific ideas about bodies and the lived realities of bodies in contemporary societies”.
It is official! The winter is over, the new year started (for those who celebrate Nowrouz/Newruz). We wish you a wonderful spring!
Our digest of this month, and we will have a new guest reading list this week! Also, one last chance to submit an abstract for our NET sponsored panel on “Anthropologies, Futures, and Predictions” at the Biennial Conference of the Finnish Anthropological Society 29-30 August 2019, in Helsinki.
A fantastic new piece on PowerPoint and corporate Korea by Michael Prentice in American Anthropologist (see his reading list for us here at the NET last year)
For the title alone, but also for the subgenre of theoretically and ethnographically revisiting the milieus of previous generations of anthropologists, Knut Christian Myhre’s piece in JRAI
Dimitri Tsintjilonis writes about how narrations of the encounter of the devil in Greece confuse past, present and future and what that has to do with the country’s economic crisis
Anthropological Theory’s Special Issue on “Politics In The Time Of “Post Politics”: Rethinking Anthropology’s Conception of The Political For The 21st Century” edited by Nancy Postero, Eli Elinoff and Nicole Fabricant
Stuart Kirsch’s important book from last year in engaged anthropology
Joelle Bahloul’s book from the 1990s on domesticity and microhistory
Although not out yet, looking forward to the publication of the Fernando Coronil Reader published next month, and maybe it pushes us to go reread his work now.
Here is this month’s digest with readings that we hope catch
This time, we have more news! For this year’s NET event, we will be convening a (partly unconventional) panel on the topic of “Anthropologies, Futures and Prediction” at the Biennial Conference of the Finnish Anthropological Society (in Helsinki, Finland on August 29-30, 2019)! We hope that this will be the occasion to meet some of you in person! Please check out the CfP at the bottom of the digest. Click here for more information on the conference.
issue of the new journal Public Anthropologist is out
featuring a collection of articles on silencing and structures of power within
A fascinating article on data centers in Iceland, and the unsettled and in-betweens of tech infrastructures, by Alix Johnson
From inbetweeness to improvisation in an article by Nur Amali
Ibrahim in Anthropological Quarterly last summer.
Cigarettes and marketing in Indonesia, by Marina Welker in the current issue of JRAI.
Sur writes about shape-shifting and fieldwork related trauma cures
across national medical systems.
How to decanonize anthropology with teaching its history
from the margins? Check out this syllabus.
“Anthropologies, Futures and Prediction”
“The future is not what it once was. Technological, political, and infrastructural changes have all effected new ways, not only of imagining, but of predicting and realizing the future(s). This workshop seeks to locate itself at the intersection of the multiple ways in which the future is known and imagined, taking into account the dialectics between the researcher and the field. What exactly is the future? Do we distinguish, like Derrida, between a “predictable, programmed, scheduled, foreseeable” future, and l’avenir—the unexpected and unanticipated? How do the temporalities of our fieldwork and our professional experience of uncertainty inform the way we produce knowledge about conceptions of future and prediction? And what of the contexts and extra-contexts in which the ethnographic emerges? Ranging from the online aggregation of predictive data to financial instruments and algorithms, state projects of governance based on prediction, to dreaming, death, and afterlives, to urban infrastructural planning, this panel, sponsored by EASA’s Network of Ethnographic Theory, asks how the future is part and parcel of what constitutes the social in all its utopic and dystopic forms. As part of EASA’s Network of Ethnographic Theory’s sponsorship, papers of this panel will be submitted as a special issue to Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale.
In addition to the usual panel format, as described above, we will have an additional session in which panelists are invited to engage the thematic of their own and their own ethnographic and theoretical interventions through alternative media forms, and amidst a more broader and inclusive discussion of “Anthropologies, Futures and Predictions.” Thus, we are interested in having panelists present papers in the first panel, and have opportunities to show ethnographic film, audio, installation forms, and so forth, in the second.
If you are interested in participating, please contact us. Abstracts for papers will be due March 31st. There will be some funding available for EASA members!
The NET wishes a happy 2019 to everybody! We need hope and our best imagination in the face of continuous inequality, violence, exclusion… and increasing political irresponsibility.
The sadly late Roy Wagner’s
piece about the “self‐transformative and tactical character of the reciprocity
of perspectives and its effects on language”.
Participation and the way
anthropologist can confront the “challenges
presently being posed by embodied cognition” is the subject João de Pina-Cabral recent article.
reflects on how anthropology (as a generator of theory) risks alienation in the
face of “the growth of economic pragmatism coupled with the current apotheosis
of science and technology”.
The most recent
recent issue of ANUAC features a thematic section about “The Malinowskian legacy in ethnography” curated by Elisabeth
Tauber and Dorothy Zinn with contributions on continuities and discontinuities
of Malinowski’s heritage around questions of race, infrastructure, historical
Laura Yakas on her ethnography of timelessness, madness and the
workings of what she calls, citing Johanna Hedva (2016) the “current regime of neoliberal,
white-supremacist, imperial-capitalist, cis-hetero-patriarchy”
Anthropologies are fascinating us not least since we published Sabine Mohamed’s reading list.
If you want to imagine how to “resist despair and to craft tangible ways of
shaping and repairing the worlds we still hope for”, check out this blog collection curated by
Ryan Anderson, Emma Louise Backe, Taylor Nelms, Elizabeth Reddy and Jeremy Trombley.
Hanna Rubio and Xitlalli Alvarez Almendariz invite us to reflect on political
engagement in ethnographic knowledge production around a question of
gives insights into the recent protests against the so called “Slave law” in
Hungary and how they connect to other contemporary anti-neoliberal movements.
A fascinating digital
interactive by Stanford University Press on Filming Revolution
by Alisa Lebow
Two popular pieces on
rethinking the Frankfurt School at the Boston
Review and at Vox
York Op-ed by Pankaj Mishra, on Brexit, the partitioning of India
and Pakistan, and important for thinking not only politics of the moment, but
For our French-speakers, here is a Q&A with Philippe Descola on the political, social environmental challenges of our times and his life’s work.
In her reading list, I was amazed by how elegantly Megha Amrith held in tension the multiple meanings of care and the diverse bodies of literature that intersect in the anthropology of care. I doubt I can repeat the feat. So what I want to do, instead, is try to focus in on what we might mean by the ethics of care.
The ethnographic record shows relationships of care are imagined and practised with often unimaginably diversity. And it also suggests that it is rare for them to be anything other than heavy with moral significance. Such relationships are places where the meaning of human vulnerability is weighed, contested, and borne in strikingly different ways. And they are often the means for people’s most concerted and culturally specific attempts to become (or turn someone else into) a valuable, desirable, and capable person. Their daily rhythms can be just as full of the comforting intimacies of dependence as they are pregnant with longings to transform and transcend such intense involvement.
This was certainly the case in the communal care home for adults with cognitive disabilities in the UK that I lived and worked in for my first fieldwork. In this context, carers pursue some of their deepest egalitarian values either by trying to make the people with intellectual impairments they support just as independent as anyone else, or by trying to form mutual and reciprocal relations with them in their dependence. But carers are continually thwarted by the fact that they do not know another way of keeping these individuals alive other than through an unequal relationship in which they not only perform most of the labour but also take many of the decisions.
I am fascinated by the fact that such asymmetrical dependence persists in my fieldsite despite everyone trying to make it disappear. Is there something about the way independence is imagined and valued in Britain that excludes people with disabilities (along with children, the sick, and the elderly) and makes them particularly in need of care? Are carers missing some tricks that would make relationships of dependence less hierarchical – or is their oddity, instead, that they are so committed to making dependence so egalitarian? Is this kind of care difficult because it is an unarticulated and undervalued moral practice in Euro-American societies, or because this kind of unequal dependence and vulnerable intimacy is always exposing and relationally fraught?
Engaging these questions properly and ethnographically requires resisting our temptation to rely on ready-to-hand and moralistic ways of talking about care that offer simple solutions to intractable ethical difficulties, and obvious descriptive categories that cover over the complexity of intimacy and dependence. But thankfully there is already a whole world of research out there that can help us do just that: a very unsystematic selection of which I present here …
Livingston’s historical ethnography traces the ways in which Tswana have morally imagined what places people in need of care, and how they have distributed responsibility for actually providing it within and between kinship networks, communities, and the state. It enables us to go beyond the romantic and despairing stories we tell about the role of care in the past in order to explore how the practical realities of dependency actually played out. It contributes to a rich vein of anthropology that explores the relationship between different patterns of care and local visions of debility and personhood.
Jenkins, Richard. 1999. Questions of Competence: Culture, Classification and Intellectual Disability. Cambridge University Press.
Cohen, Lawrence. 2000. No Aging in India: Alzheimer’s, The Bad Family, and Other Modern Things. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Horden, Peregrine, and Richard Smith. 2013. Locus of Care. London: Routledge.
Gammeltoft, Tine. 2014. Haunting Images: A Cultural Account of Selective Reproduction in Vietnam.
Zoanni, Tyler. 2018. ‘The Possibilities of Failure: Personhood and Cognitive Disability in Urban Uganda’. The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology 36 (1): 61–79.
Kittay’s contribution to a long feminist tradition of thinking about the ethics of care and its burdens is to focus on the asymmetrical nature of certain kinds of dependence such as that we all experience in childhood. Love’s Labor challenges liberal philosophies and polities that try to realise equality through assuming independence by drawing attention to the fact that this kind of care is premised on a disparity between givers and receivers. If we are to have justice both for those who need care and for those who give it, should we not start not with independence but with the asymmetrical forms of dependence that we all, in practice, need?
Ehrenreich, Barbara, and Arlie Russell Hochschild, eds. 2004. Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy. Henry Holt and Company.
Pols, Jeannette. 2006. ‘Washing the Citizen: Washing, Cleanliness, and Citizenship in Mental Health Care’. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 30 (1): 77–104.
Mol, Annemarie. 2008. The Logic of Care: Health and the Problem of Patient Choice. London: Routledge.
Ferguson, James. 2013. ‘Declarations of Dependence: Labour, Personhood, and Welfare in Southern Africa’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19 (2): 223–242.
Buch, Elana D. 2018. Inequalities of Aging: Paradoxes of Independence in American Home Care.
Care is essential to keeping children alive and to teaching them how to care for others, right? Not according to the Runa of the Ecuadorian Amazon who value independence so highly that they leave their children to fend for themselves from astonishingly early ages, and think this the best way to teach them to be responsible. This paper develops a long lineage of work in the anthropology of childhood that challenges widespread assumptions about the necessity of care, and with it the characterisation of Euro-Americans as concerned solely with autonomy.
Ochs, Elinor, and Bambi B. Schieffelin. 1984. ‘Language Acquisition and Socialization: Three Developmental Stories and Their Implications’. In Culture Theory: Essays on Mind, Self and Emotion, edited by Richard A Shweder and Robert A LeVine. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Briggs, Jean L. 1999. Inuit Morality Play: The Emotional Education of a Three-Year-Old. New Haven; London: Yale University Press.
Ochs, Elinor, and Carolina Izquierdo. 2009. ‘Responsibility in Childhood: Three Developmental Trajectories’. Ethos 37 (4): 391–413.
Lancy, David F. 2014. The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings. Cambridge University Press.
Otto, Hiltrud, and Heidi Keller. 2018. Different Faces of Attachment: Cultural Variations on a Universal Human Need. Cambridge: Cambridge university press.
If you are addicted to drugs in Mexico City your relatives might pay for you to be kidnapped, confined, and tortured. Morally abhorrent surely… or might it actually be a form of care? Along with a range of challenging work in the anthropology of care, this article forces us to think more deeply about the intimate connections between care and what we typically treat as its opposites: paternalism, distance, and even violence.
Pols, Jeannette, and Ingunn Moser. ‘Cold Technologies versus Warm Care? On Affective and Social Relations with and through Care Technologies’. ALTER-European Journal of Disability Research/Revue Européenne de Recherche Sur Le Handicap 3 (2): 159–178.
Brown, Hannah. 2010. ‘If We Sympathise with Them, They’ll Relax’. Fear/Respect and Medical Care in a Kenyan Hospital. Med Antropol 22: 125–42.
Livingston, Julie. 2012. Improvising Medicine: An African Oncology Ward in an Emerging Cancer Epidemic. Duke University Press.
Garcia, Angela. 2014. ‘The Promise: On the Morality of the Marginal and the Illicit’. Ethos 42 (1): 51–64.
This book leads us deep into the most intimate and intractable complications of caring relationships conducted in the shadow of the competing ideals of state intervention and contraction, biopolitics and liberalism, dependence and freedom. Its attention simultaneously to the subjectivity of care recipients and the ethical dilemmas of those who support them alerts us to the range and depth of aspirations we bring to care, as well as to the way they so often go tragically awry when actual people and relationships exceed the ethical categories with which we apprehend them.
Lester, Rebecca J. 2009. ‘Brokering Authenticity: Borderline Personality Disorder and the Ethics of Care in an American Eating Disorder Clinic’. Current Anthropology 50 (3): 281–302.
Brodwin, Paul. 2013. Everyday Ethics: Voices from the Front Line of Community Psychiatry. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Mattingly, Cheryl. 2014. Moral Laboratories: Family Peril and the Struggle for a Good Life. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Kuan, Teresa. 2015. Love’s Uncertainty: The Politics and Ethics of Child Rearing in Contemporary China. University of California Press.
Driessen, Annelieke. 2018. ‘Sociomaterial Will-Work: Aligning Daily Wanting in Dutch Dementia Care’. In Care in Healthcare, 111–133. Springer.
Care is nice. And care can stop you from doing all the things in life you’d like to. Particularly if you have a significant disability and you want to have sex. This book invites us to face – with Danish sex-workers, parents, and professional carers – the challenge of transforming care from something that denies erotic encounters into something that enables them. How, for instance, can someone support a couple with disabilities to have sex without turning it into a threesome? At stake in these kind of questions is whether we can imagine a kind of care that opens rather than forecloses the exciting and exposing possibilities of adulthood – and whether there might not be more to life than care.
Edgerton, Robert B. 1993. The Cloak of Competence. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Ingstad, Benedicte, and Susan Reynolds Whyte, eds. 1995. Disability and Culture. University of California Press.
Buch, Elana D. 2014. ‘Troubling Gifts of Care: Vulnerable Persons and Threatening Exchanges in Chicago’s Home Care Industry’. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 28 (4): 599–615.
Myers, Neely Laurenzo. 2015. Recovery’s Edge: An Ethnography of Mental Health Care and Moral Agency. Nashville, Tennessee: Vanderbilt University press.
Davis, Donna Z., and Tom Boellstorff. 2016. ‘Compulsive Creativity: Virtual Worlds, Disability, and Digital Capital’. International Journal of Communication 10 (0): 23.