EASA2016: Anthropological legacies and human futures
- Chandana Mathur (National University of Ireland, Maynooth) email
- Faye Harrison (Univ of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign ) email
This panel explores the ways in which subordinated anthropological traditions in multiple world historical contexts engage with issues of power.
This panel has been jointly organised by the World Council of Anthropological Associations (WCAA) and the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES).
Have 'world anthropologies' tried to change the world? Often working among enormously disempowered populations, and eclipsed both by more dominant social science disciplines as well as the dominant mainstream of our own discipline, have subordinated anthropological traditions tended to reckon with questions of power? This session will foster a discussion of the distinctive ways in which anthropologies of engagement have been practised in a variety of global contexts. Themes explored in this session include the forms of resistance (and also accommodation) of multiple anthropological traditions to state power, to the imperatives imposed by capital accumulation, to right-wing religion, to ecological destruction, and other obstacles to human well-being and social/economic/environmental justice. How have different anthropological traditions historically interacted with decolonisation movements or with apparatuses of state, empire and capital? What is the present state of affairs and what are the future prospects for subordinated anthropologies' engagement with the burning issues of our times?
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Comparing the ethics codes of anthropology national associations: engagements, power and professional practices in World Anthropologies
What is the place of the ethics regulation in anthropological practice? How different anthropological associations define their rules about ethical issues of the discipline?
To what extent ethical codes of different Anthropological associations, mostly designed for more than two decades, still respond to the new ethical challenges posed to anthropologists and their field studies? How these different codes of ethics deal with the political engagement of some Anthropologists in the field? How the anthropological assertion "change the world" are consistent with other traditional theoretical assumptions as it is the "scientific neutrality" and the "detachment" of the researcher?
This paper analyze some anthropological ethics codes in order to answer these questions. Through a comparative analysis of the texts of different codes of ethics provided by national anthropological associations, we try to understand if - and in what extent - the ethical regulation has - or has not - contributed to the new ways of doing anthropology in the contemporary world. We reflect also upon examples withdrawn from some contemporary ethnographies, in fields that include issues such gender , sexual orientation, ethnic-racial, disability, social class and other social markers of difference that also mark the identities of male and female Anthropologists in different contexts of the anthropological practice. And how the ethical regulations of Anthropology at different places in the world respond to these new approaches.
Brazilian anthropology as a national tradition: theoretical reflections and the engagement within the public sphere
The paper focuses on a tradition of engagement of the Brazilian anthropology: mainly in support of the indigenous people and afro-descendants. Such an analysis can offer useful contributions to the European anthropologists who must face one of the most burning issue of our times: the "migration crisis"
The Brazilian anthropology, although born thanks to the influence of some of the most relevant European anthropologists (e.g. Lévi-Strauss and Bastide in the 1930s.), has developed during the times a more propensity to the engagement within the public sphere: both inside the institutions for influencing the national politics in relation to the rights of the indigenous and afro-descendants communities and also, from outside, for putting pressure on the government.
Today the Brazilian anthropologists are involved in anthropological surveys, for the national indigenist body, on indigenous territorial claims. In many occasions the Brazilian Anthropology Association has adopted an official position against legislative proposals aimed to restrict the processes of demarcation of the indigenous reserves.
The Brazilian anthropologists, reflecting about their public position as intellectuals and about the heritage of the dynamics of power typical of the colonial period, have decided to assume a political position to defend the disempowered communities, traditionally objects of their studies. We have to taking also in account the connection with other Latin American anthropological traditions: the "internal colonialism" theory of Stavenhagen in Mexico or the Barbados Declaration of 1971 (in which a group of Latin American Anthropologists declared that the researches on the indigenous peoples could be realized only with a strategic alliance with the Indians). All these theoretical and political reflections more diffused in the Brazilian anthropology than in the European one, can offer useful contributions to the European anthropologists who must face one of the most burning issue of our times: the "migration crisis".
Serbian anthropology confronting academic audit culture: on fifteen years of a struggle for empowerment of social science and humanities scholars
A reflection on scholarly and public debate, administrative commitment and court advocacy that Serbian anthropologists engaged in to counterbalance biased academic audit, with special reference to extra-academic consequences of intra-academic derogation of authority of social sciences and humanities
Academic audit culture - the logic of policymaking and implementation based on criteria of academic achievement and research ethics standards devised from natural sciences - have been thoroughly investigated in anthropology of policy and explained away as being highly biased, inherently disqualifying, and threatening to the very future of social sciences and humanities (SSH). In Serbia, many anthropologists refused to conform to it in a complicit manner, not by completely throwing away the idea of audit, but by reflecting upon solutions that would be based on fair and ethical academic evaluation and quality assessment. This especially as academic audit proved itself to be systematically derogative of authority of SSH by simultaneous devaluation of our academic worth and social purpose, preventing us from legitimately challenging the most pressing social issues. It is not just a professional call to search for empowerment strategies in order to renew the authority of SSH but a moral duty, too. For coupling of academic derogation and social diminishment of SSH consequently result not only in lessening of the public impact and in number of university departments and research institutes worldwide - it nontrivially coincides with pauperization, crisis of democracy, lessening of human rights standards, rise of xenophobia, and related aspects of global social dismay. The paper traces alternatives to unison academic audit devised so far aimed not at alienating SSH scholars from the audit system but directed at its sustainable reform that may serve as an example of how a small "world anthropological" community engaged in changing the world.
Can the ‘urban’ engender World Anthropologies?
It argues that in order to understand subversive modes of representation amidst the growing ‘specter of capital’, the ontology of world anthropologies needs to go beyond the dichotomization of the ‘civil’ and the ‘political’ in everyday life.
In the contemporary ‘urban’ condition, liberal democracy and transnational sovereignty offer us numerous avenues for the realization of ‘World Anthroplogies’ across space and time. But scholars like Ananya Roy (2015) caution us against the adoption of ‘… a universal grammar of cityness, modified by (exotic) empirical variation’. They harp on the celebration of a contingent historicity. Howsoever it definitely goes beyond doubt that the ‘planetary urbanization’ (Brenner 2013) syndrome is soon making deep inroads into the postcolonial social fabric. The rise of a caste-class consociation and the growth of a hegemonic middle class (Heller and Fernandes 2006), for instance, seem to have had engendered an ossification of a neoliberal ethic that definitely dares to ruffle up the very ontology of a ‘postcolonial aura’ (Dirlik 1994) or the very ‘ordinariness’ (Robinson 2005) of the city. Apart from my current research work on the role of neighborhood associations in shaping the contours of urban politics in Delhi, the paper shall draw upon studies on the evolution and growth of two key themes viz., gentrification and urban renewal, in cities of both the Global North and South. In so doing, it argues that in order to understand subversive modes of representation amidst the growing ‘specter of capital’ (Chibber 2013), the ontology of world anthropologies needs to go beyond the dichotomy of the ‘civil’ and the ‘political’ in everyday life. Further, we do need to unabashedly get prepared for capturing the ethos of what, I prefer to term as, ‘symbiotic spaces of neo-populist sovereignty’
Anthropological fieldwork among once non-literate Gypsies and Travellers, combined with studying up, has exposed marginalized perspectives, sometimes bringing policy and political changes
Anthropological fieldwork among once non-literate Gypsies and Travellers, combined with studying powerful officials and policy makers, has exposed marginalized perspectives of the often persecuted. Ensuing texts are now studied by emergent groups of Gypsies, Travellers and Roma at universities.
Intensive ethnographic fieldwork among Gypsies, Roma or Travellers, the most persecuted of minorities in Europe, has offered opportunities to present their perspectives and context, contradicting populist stereotypes, indeed demonization. This necessarily entailed studying up, also problematising state policies. Participant observation was extended where possible among policy makers and officials. The English Gypsies and Irish Travellers, encountered in the 1970s, were largely non-literate, their varied origins studied and exoticised by outsiders. In the 19th century, links between Romany language(s) and pre 11th century Sanskrit provided India as mono origin. Imagined monoculture was used by outsiders to privilege ‘true blooded’ Romanies versus stigmatized ‘half-castes’. Irish or Scottish Travellers, claiming only indigenous origins, were often attributed every nomadic negativity. Barth’s anthropological notions of ethnic self-ascription enhanced contextual definitions and contested reductionist, orientalist labeling and linguists’ neglect of cultural, contextual innovations through time and space. Official documents, both local and national, offered rich resources for investigating the mechanisms of power, sometimes revealing corruption. The anthropologist’s publications on occasions influenced policy, dependent on current hegemonies. Additionally, she acted successfully, as Expert and character witness in courts on behalf of English Gypsies. In 2008, this anthropologist was consulted in a court case for the landmark ethnic recognition, despite indigenous origins, of Scottish Travellers, then invited to celebrate with Travellers at the Scottish Parliament.
With growing literate numbers of Gypsies, Travellers and Roma who now study outsiders’ previous texts, the anthropologist has had the reward of acting as university postgraduate supervisor, referee and adviser.
Contemporary transformations of Maori salvage ethnography
The present paper proposes a reflection on the power/knowledge dimensions of "Indigenous Research" inside New Zealand's Maori movements, particularly on critical standpoints towards salvage ethnography records of late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The present paper proposes an analysis of post-colonially informed critiques of Maori salvage ethnography records of late 19th and early 20th centuries, namely by indigenous researchers of the Kaupapa Maori / Maoritanga / Mana Maori movements who propose to decolonize the field of Maori Studies as part of an empowerment goal. Published materials by contemporary representatives of the Maori community are compared with diverse reassessments of the archive by Pakeha (British-settlers descendants) researchers in New Zealand. The paper will address contemporary issues of power/knowledge as concerns, in particular, the reading of Elsdon Best's (1856-1931) ethnographical legacy on "pre-European" Maori culture. The analysis of this specific segment of the archive and of its transformations, involving other figures of the same period, gives way to a reflection on the historical antecedents of a subordinated anthropological tradition in its relations with mainstream anthropology: the paper implies an understanding of the way in which the work of Pakeha salvage ethnographers has always been attentively followed in New Zealand by important representatives of the Maori community – a literate one since the middle of the 19th century –, not just by direct collaborators, but also by politicians and researchers. More recently, namely after A. Hanson's 1989 article on "The Making of the Maori: Culture Invention and Its Logic" (American Anthropologist, 91: 890-902), the work of Elsdon Best has been submitted to heavy criticism by Maori researchers, particularly for its colonial setting, for the lack of acknowledgement of the native informants and for its pretention to be complete (e.g. Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies. Reasearch and Indigenous Peoples. London, New York: Zed Books, 2012 ). Non-Maori academics have also criticized Best's work in post-colonial terms (e.g. Jeffrey Sissons, Te Waimana, the Spring of Mana. Tuhoe History and the Colonial Encounter. Dunedin: University of Otago Press, 1991), but recent studies, namely by Jeffrey P. Holman (Best of Both Worlds. The Story of Elsdon Best and Tutakangahau. North Shore: Penguin, Books, 2010), put the critiques into question and make a case for the implicit omnipresence, among today's Maori community, of Best's depictions of pre-European Maori culture. At the same time, other non-Maori academics (e.g. Elizabeth Rata) denounce the political dimensions of Maori research. These are some of the references of an on-going polemic at the heart of a tradition that is both subordinated and strongly connected to mainstream anthropology. Proposed by a historian of anthropology, not a field researcher, the paper explores from a deliberately distant point of view (the antipodes) diverse written stances that have a political dimension in contemporary New Zealand.
Some sorrows of a Croatian world anthropologist: trying to nurture the 'floating concept' amidst epistemicides of metropolitan provincialist's and croatian provincial cosmopolitanist's
The IUAES inter-congress in Croatia, 2016 will probably raise up to expectations of addressing the theme of the World anthropologies. On the historical timeline of Croatian anthropology it will provoke the question of its place in the global academic arena of significant anthropological tasks.
Croatian anthropology, which to many is a synonym of the 1988 IUAES Conference held in Zagreb was/is for a long time been stuck between the past (former Yugoslavia) and future representations from 'outside'. One concept of the future, predicted in a very thorough and benevolent synthesis (Bennett, 1998) had the aim to inform of one among Europe's developing anthropologies (Parman, 1998). The IUAES inter-congress in Croatia (2016), will probably raise up to post-conferential expectations of addressing the overall theme of the 'World anthropologies'. Yet somewhere between the hidden factography of the past and missinterpreted historical timeline of Croatian anthropology lies the sad fact of a not understanding ones place in the global academic arena of significant anthropological tasks. Such as fortifying the most important issues of critical stance anthropologies. To be able to do that Croatian anthropologist's should embrace a plethora of questions tied to colonialism, rather than concentrating upon the atomistic population divisions that postmodern stances nurture, even extending them into biological schemes. There is no escaping since this is tied to mainstream funding schemes. Escape from the honey-jar means jumping into a chronology of another unpleasant, yet moral kind. This has already been predicted by Fabian (2006) in his cautionary remark of the 'World anthropologies' in need of being a floating concept and not getting stuck in ill-defined concepts that might obfuscate our possibilities of developing a critique of the dominant hegemonic chronologies. For this we must consciously choose to not live as provincial metropolitanists and cosmopolitanists (Ribeiro&Escobar, 2006).
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.