Keynotes and Plenary Circles at CASCA/IUAES2017
Tuesday, May 2nd
Marc Abélès (École des haute études en sciences sociales - ÉHÉSS, Paris)
For a heraclitean anthropology
How should one think of societies and the world in movement? Undoubtedly, this is one of the essential challenges faced by anthropology in a universe profoundly transformed by the intensification of flows. Since a quarter of a century, there has been a multiplication of the descriptions and analyses of these mutations. Yet, one cannot stick to a prudent and routine empiricism. This would be as if the position of the observer had not changed since the heroic epoch of the founding fathers of anthropology. The simple fact of thinking the contemporary in terms of circulation, of frictions, and of tensions on the planet leads us to rethink our epistemological basics. In this orientation situated at the junction between anthropology and philosophy, we need to adopt a heraclitean point of view for questioning the issues of the present time.
Biography: Marc Abélès is one of the leading political anthropologists of today, known for theorization in the domain of anthropology of state and studies of globalization. Abélès is the Director of Research at Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the Director of Studies at l'École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris. He has authored eighteen books, and numerous scientific articles, and held visiting positions at a number of prestigious international universities, including Brown, Stanford and New York University. Abélès brings a wealth of experience and insight about the futures of contemporary political anthropology in the context of dramatic changes at the level of the environment, the economy and global governance. His recent work on The Politics of Survival (2010) on the new global orientation in the face of precarity will contribute to the plenary's exploration of how conditions of uncertainty have produced new temporalities and modes of political action.
Wednesday, May 3rd
Lesley Green (University of Cape Town)
The struggle to work with movement in knowledge is as old as the idea of knowledge itself: ancient Greek thinkers posed the knowledge of geometrical forms -- the sphere, the cube, the pyramid -- as the route to grasping the essence of the world. On the other side of the planet, ancient Chinese thinkers were working with the knowledge of the propensity of movement in a substance -- the notion of li -- as the basis of knowledge. What would modern knowledge have become if movement had been central in the debates of the ancient Mediterranean? The question comes to the fore in the Anthropocene, a time in which we begin to recognise changes in molecular flows -- of carbons, of nitrogens -- are altering the planet, yet our legal systems are ill-equipped to address a global commons that does not cooperate with territorial boundaries or with territorial law, or with the timeframes of electoral cycles. Contemporary social sciences, I suggest, demand from us an intellectual mobility across different authorisations of reason that would persuade us that they are the only way to know. Exploring fluidity and sedimentation; territory and flow; life time and geo-time, this paper explores a social science of movement that is itself mobile across disciplines, and across intellectual histories.
Biography: Lesley Green is director of the Environmental Humanities Initiative and is part of the Berg River Project, a trans-disciplinary project of the African Climate and Development Initiative at UCT. She was co-convener of the Fisher's Knowledge project, as well as PI of the Contested Ecologies project and the Palikur Historical and Astronomical Knowledge in relation to archeology in Amapa, Brazil. She has published numerous books and peer reviewed articles that traverse these themes; namely she writes on the question of knowledges, thinking through energies, water, space, skies, animals, time, tracks, fracking, oikos and omics within both indigenous and scientific contexts and epistemologies in sub saharan Africa as well as in the Brazilian Amazon, thus offering a broad anchored theoretical contribution to reflect on Mo(U)vement across our four themes. Her thought provoking keynote address invites us to think of the kinds of sciences decolonials have needed to imagines ways forward.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday: Plenary Circles
Plenary circles, in the spirit of North American First Nations talking circles, are places and moments for the co-creation of new knowledge, dialogue and mutual respect. In each plenary circle, four leaders in their fields, sitting in the four cardinal directions, will present their views and perspectives on the issues under discussion. Each person has a turn to speak in an atmosphere of respectful and attentive listening. At the conclusion of the plenary circle, members of the audience will have an opportunity to ask questions and add their own voice to the discussion.
Thursday, May 4th
Organizer : David Jaclin (University of Ottawa)
What capacities (in the broader sense of being able to) open up once we regard ecologies, not as static or pre-conceived entities but rather as dynamic assemblages in motion - that is along differential and constant reconfigurations of life? How are life forms and forms of life intrinsically imbued with others? Whether it be thinking with water, transforming through the vegetal, animal or microbial, how could we traverse (and ultimately re-engage) with these moving organic/semantic compositions?
Participants : Perig Pitrou (CNRS/LAS), Genese Sodikoff (Rutgers University), Nastassja Martin (University of Aberdeen), Fabien Clouette (Université Paris 8)
Friday, May 5th
Locating the political
Organizers: Thushara Hewage (University of Ottawa) and Larisa Kurtovic (University of Ottawa)
In recent years anthropologists working across a diverse array of fields and global locations have question and complicated conventional understandings and expectations of the political. New and disciplinarily innovative ethnographies have broadened our sense of what it means to live and act politically, disclosing the presence of the political in novel registers and locations. Specifically, work on the anthropology of ethics has revealed subjectivity, affect, traditions of embodied practice and historically constituted difference, as the grounds from which political repertoires emerge. Research on the contemporary postcolony has relativized and revised canonical concepts of Western political theory, conceptualizing actually existing democratic movements in terms of distinctively postcolonial historical trajectories and modernities. Most recently, engagements with technology and infrastructure illuminate the formative role of non-human, material agencies in political contestation and expression. At the broadest level, this plenary asks what the contemporary promise of an anthropological approach to the political consists in. How does anthropology’s relocation of the political critically alter our understanding of older political languages and imaginaries? What purchase does it give us on new and emergent movements? In a global context of growing doubt about the ability of the formal political sphere to provide a space for meaningful political articulation, what new horizons and potentialities might political anthropology yield?
Participants: Marc Abélès (EHESS), Kregg Hetherington (Concordia University), Andrea Muehlebach (University of Toronto), Nandini Sundar (University of Delhi)
Saturday, May 6th
Organizer: Scott Simon (University of Ottawa)
Moderator: Rodney Nelson (Carleton University)
2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; the 50th anniversary of the Circle of All Nations on Algonquin territory; and the 150th anniversary of Canadian confederation. The report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission encourages us to confront our past, but also inspires us to look forward to new relationships between Indigenous peoples and the state, between Indigenous peoples and those known by many as “settlers,” and between Indigenous peoples through their organisation at the world level. Our shared history has always been one of movement; and now we have new social movements like Idle No More that promise renewed relationships between Indigenous people and settler allies. This is also a time for anthropologists to reflect on past practices and potential future relationships with Indigenous peoples, in Canada and abroad. How can we recover misplaced patrimony and correct biased representations of the Indigenous? How can we re-set the relationship between Indigenous peoples and anthropologists in a spirit of mutual respect and obligations to one another? How can anthropologists be influential in the design of a new, collaborative approach to relationships between Indigenous peoples and the scientific community at large? What are the most important issues to address as we move forward into a shared future?
Participants: Michael Asch (University of Victoria), Irène Bellier (CNRS-EHESS), Carole Lévesque (INRS), Margaret Bruchac (University of Pennsylvania)