EASA2016: Anthropological legacies and human futures

(P055)
Impact and localization of international knowledge regimes
Location U7-14
Date and Start Time 20 July, 2016 at 14:30
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Birgit Bräuchler (Monash University) email
  • Sabine Mannitz (Peace Research Institute Frankfurt) email

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Short Abstract

The panel looks at international knowledge regimes as they evolved around issues such as human rights, citizenship, indigeneity, peacebuilding, security or new media technologies. It puts a special focus on their national and local adoption and emerging hierarchies of knowledge and power.

Long Abstract

Knowledge regimes are "fields of policy research organizations" (Campbell and Pedersen 2015) that have major influence on national ideas of policy-making. Such knowledge regimes have an enormous impact on a national and local level; they are translated and incorporated, reproduced or transformed in a variety of social, cultural, political and economic contexts. In some cases, the local transformations themselves feed back into the (re)construction of knowledge regimes. These translation processes produce mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion at the local level, with regards to access to knowledge regimes and the way how people profit from them or not, the way they are locally adapted and, in turn, the possibilities to shape and take influence on them. The panel looks at international knowledge regimes as they evolved around issues such as human rights, citizenship, indigeneity, peacebuilding, security or new media technologies. It puts a special focus on their national and local adoption and emerging hierarchies of knowledge and power. Representational issues and the capability to produce, disseminate and contest knowledge are inherent part of such analyses of the interrelationships between local and transnational hierarchies and institutions.

We welcome both conceptual/theoretical as well as empirically grounded papers analysing the dynamics involved in the spreading, the rejection, the adoption and the reformulation of international knowledge regimes as the ones mentioned above from an anthropological point of view. Papers should also reflect on the potentials and limits that anthropological research entails with regards to the examination of local-transnational interlinkages.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

How intellectual property law transforms immaterial cultural goods

Author: Ute Röschenthaler (Goethe University Frankfurt)  email

Short Abstract

Immaterial cultural goods are an important resource with which people in Africa position themselves in the global world. When subjected to copyright law, media formats, or commercial events, they undergo substantial transformations, as will be illustrated by examples from Cameroon.

Long Abstract

Immaterial cultural goods and practices such as performances, dances, songs, music, praise poetry, oral history, knowledge, local sports or beauty ideals undergo substantial transformations when they face global networks and practices. They become subject to materialization, copyright law, various media formats, commoditization or commercial events. This process of subjecting them to such international formats has an influence on the perception of the different immaterial cultural goods. They are also confronted with the norms that regulate what locally can and cannot be done with such goods. Based on extensive field research in Cameroon, this paper explores with a diachronic approach and from the perspective of the local actors the role of the norms that regulate immaterial goods, how these norms are challenged by international regulations and who is interested in maintaining the old norms, in adopting the new regulations, or in participating in different activities and practices of identity construction that have been observed as a repercussion of the international norms. It also compares these findings with similar cases from other African countries. It demonstrates how immaterial cultural goods have become an important resource with which local people in Africa position themselves in the global world

Challenging indigenous media as international knowledge regimes

Author: Birgit Bräuchler (Monash University)  email

Short Abstract

Looking at indigenous media in Indonesia, this paper analyses the impact of indigeneity and new media as international knowledge regimes on national and local policies and mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion.

Long Abstract

Indigeneity and new media are here conceptualised as international knowledge regimes that have both become integral parts of national and international development policies. This paper explores the emergence of these regimes and what impact they have on national and local levels. A decade long struggle finally led to the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). As the declaration is not legally binding to the signatory states, indigenous people still rely on nation-states to translate it into national legislations. At the same time, the Internet and new media have spread exponentially and triggered debates about in how far they foster democracy and empowerment or rather epitomize capitalist interests and enforce existing gaps and hierarchies.

Focusing on indigenous media in Indonesia, this paper analyses the impact of new media and the discourse on indigeneity in the country. It looks at whether and how the Indonesian government has accommodated new media developments and has implemented the UNDRIP. Whereas the termination of the authoritarian Suharto regime allowed for the opening up of the media scene and the advancement of human rights, the government has still not passed a law on the rights of indigenous people. This does not prevent the latter to get organised on national and local levels. Media have become strategic tools in the struggle for their rights. This paper looks at the implications the national and local translation of international knowledge regimes has and what mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion it generates.

Remediating ‘others’: how digital media shape local/global knowledge regimes between Iran and ‘the West’

Author: Shireen Walton (University of Oxford)  email

Short Abstract

Drawing on digital-ethnographic research in Iran, the UK and online, this paper examines the visual role of digital media in forming a new epistemology of ‘others’. It considers this premise in relation to established and emerging knowledge regimes between Iran and ‘the West’.

Long Abstract

Official custodians of civil knowledge stake heavy claims on notions of selves and others. Such ‘truths’ wave their logic from the fabrics of (geo-)political agendas, national narratives and self-referential imaginaries. With the emergence of mobile digital technology and social media, another kind of dialogue has emerged over the past decade. Individuals and groups are actively negotiating (dominant perceptions of) their identity via digital and visual practices of self-representation in local and international arenas. A salient example of this intersection of established and emerging epistemologies can be seen in the media-political interplay of relations between Iran and the West in recent years. In this paper, I discuss how individuals and groups inside and outside of Iran since the early 2000s have been drawing on digital media to posit alternative discourses of ‘truth’ about Iran online, predominantly through images. At the same time, governments have also taken to social media to intervene in ‘soft politics’ and international cultural diplomacy ‘from above’. In the wake of a political rapprochement between Iran and ‘the West’, how can we assess the impact of a steadily growing civil-visual discourse (Azoulay 2012), whereby collective transnational mediation emerges as an alternative knowledge regime ‘from below’? Based on digital-ethnographic research undertaken in Iran, the UK and online, I discuss the impact and localization of international knowledge regimes by highlighting the role of digital technologies in forming new epistemologies of ‘others’. These everyday mediations, I contend, operate within a ‘third space’ of soft political negotiation, on- and offline.

Fallacies in the international knowledge regime of security governance: the case of security sector reforms in Turkey

Author: Sabine Mannitz (Peace Research Institute Frankfurt)  email

Short Abstract

The paper scrutinizes the extent to which international reform endeavors that aim at a better functioning of state security authorities contribute to sustainable security provision in fragile contexts, and maps out alternatives. The argument draws on examples from security sector reforms in Turkey.

Long Abstract

The paper addresses the international knowledge regime of 'good security governance' and scrutinizes the extent to which - mostly internationally agreed - reform endeavors that aim at a better functioning of state security forces contribute to sustainable security provision in fragile contexts . Using the Turkish security sector reforms (SSR) as an example, it will be argued that institutional reform and engagement with governance capacity development tend to be over-emphasized whereas the relationship is not sufficiently tackled between state authorities and the local population whose security shall be produced. In contexts that emerge from armed conflicts, political crises or rapid political transformations, an erratic performance of state authorities is frequently accompanied by a deterioration of the social contract at the same time: the state is not trusted or relied upon by the citizenry. Structures for self-help replace the state delivery of public services. This is the case in the Southeast of Turkey where the Kurdish struggle for political autonomy is fought over with the Turkish armed forces. While this situation lets part of the population act as 'security experts', their solutions to security problems and locally grounded experiences are hardly fed back into the SSR knowledge regime. A case in point is the way in which Turkish state officials interact - or rather do not interact - with committed actors from civil society in the SSR arena. The power hierarchy that is reconstructed with support of international donor driven reforms sidelines the knowledge from the ground and constrains meaningful civic agency instead of empowering.

The creation of expertise: policy translation, civil society and transitional reforms

Author: Tijana Moraca (Sapienza University)  email

Short Abstract

Understanding expertise as a policy-relevant assemblage of knowledge, this paper examines how expertise is created, sustained and legitimized within one civil society actor in Serbia, in the context of three international multi-actor reform projects from different policy domains.

Long Abstract

The acceleration of transitional reforms after 2000 in Serbia involved intensified attempts to transform public institutions and policies. In such a context, civil society emerged as a key state partner in 'reform efforts' and as one of the important realms through which expertise about transitional reforms is generated and policies coming from the 'West' are recontextualized and translated.

My research focuses on the way expertise is created, sustained and legitimized in the context of three international multi-actor reform projects within diverse policy domains: higher education, adult education and social inclusion. Specifically, I examine the work of one civil society actor in order to see how expertise as a policy-relevant assemblage of knowledge emerges from its relations with other actors, that is how they negotiate and stabilize interpretations that connect everyday project reality to validating policy models. In order to do this, I deploy an interdisciplinary methodological framework that includes interviews, participant observation and document analysis. This paper presents the research design and offers some reflections after several months of fieldwork.

I contend that focusing on how expertise is created in the scope of international projects can provide valuable insight into the broader assumptions underlying civil society engagement and reforms in the context of 'democratic transitions'. This may help shed light on what issues are perceived as 'political' and what as purely 'technical', and thus reveal the internal dynamics and power relations underpinning the work of policy, its translation and localization.

The socialist roots of neoliberalism: international regimes of knowledge and post-Soviet political subjectivities

Author: Inna Leykin (The Open University of Israel )  email

Short Abstract

The paper helps us better understand a relatively uncontested adoption of neoliberal reforms in post-Soviet Russia by exploring the resonance of current international neoliberal regimes of knowledge with local and historically situated models of political subjectivity.

Long Abstract

Over the last decade, in an orchestrated effort to combat the country’s shrinking population, the Russian government launched a new pronatalist policy offering women a one-time monetary incentive to have multiple children. Compatible with a larger neoliberal regime of knowledge that arrived in Russia in the wake of the Soviet Union, this policy imagines Russian citizens as subjects calculating costs and benefits of their reproductive decisions. Although consistent with a globalized neoliberal regime of knowledge, this paper cautions against reducing the discourse that circumscribes new post-Soviet policies to contemporary neoliberal processes emanating exclusively from the West. While flows of knowledge arriving from the “West” indeed continue affecting national policies and the ways people in the former Soviet Union imagine themselves and others, this paper is interested in the impact local knowledge, and in particular academic expertise and political ideology during the late Soviet period, have had on the production of post-Soviet population policies. Focusing on a case study of a network of social actors and institutions involved in demographic research and population policies in the Soviet Union, the paper explores the continuities between the current neoliberal and a historically distinct – socialist – form of government. It reveals how the transformations occurring in the Soviet discipline of demography as well as the shifting power relations between the state and its academic experts laid out a foundation for the post-Soviet state discourse in which individual behavior and an entrepreneurial self have become important concepts with which political agendas are advanced and transformed. The paper helps us better understand a relatively uncontested adoption of neoliberal reforms in post-Soviet Russia by exploring the resonance of current international neoliberal regimes of knowledge with local and historically situated models of political subjectivity.

The Holy Gram: governmentality and resistance in the primary school canteen

Author: Filippo Oncini (University of Trento)  email

Short Abstract

Drawing on a multi-sited ethnographic study in three Italian primary schools, I report evidence of the hiatus that characterizes the encounter between the top-down medical model on nutrition implemented by authorities and the actual actors involved in children's nourishment.

Long Abstract

I illustrate the governmental steps and dispositif through which the organization of children's meal takes place in three Italian primary school canteens. The top-down medical model on nutrition initially stems from WHO's manuals and scientific evidence, for then being progressively deciphered and transformed by several institutions hierarchically placed in what I call the "food and health productive chain". I show how this top-down model of intervention has an internal coherency and effectiveness based on scientific evidence, which remains largely uncontested as long as it is not materialized as a warm meal in the plate of the children. It works as a perfectly integrated and functioning panopticon provided that no one is in custody. I then move to examine the actual reactions of parents, teachers, cooks and children to the top-down model. I show conscious and unconscious resistances from various sides: children's refusal of meals, parents' snack sneaking, cooks management of meal portions, teachers' impediments to intervene and other forms of "strategic reversibility".

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This panel is closed to new paper proposals.