Anthropologies of uncertainty
Timothy Heffernan (University of New South Wales)
Mahnaz Alimardanian (PiiR Consulting and La Trobe University)
Hancock Library, room 2.27
Wednesday 4 December, 9:00-10:45

Short abstract:

Uncertainty underscores daily life for many communities we work with today. In this panel, we invite papers that offer insights into the ways uncertainty not only affects once stable systems of moral, aesthetic & economic value but also lead to shifts in the ways anthropologists produce ethnography

Long abstract:

Uncertainty has become a prevailing condition that underscores daily life for many of the communities anthropologists work with today. Indeed, financial instability, porous borders, geo-political tensions, health emergencies and environmental degradation have come to strongly characterise everyday life for communities around the world in the first two decades of the new millennium (Calhoun and Derluguian 2011). In this context, feelings of prolonged or impending crisis brought about by periods of uncertainty bear strongly upon our collaborators' reckoning of the past and present and, increasingly, the future. In this panel, we invite papers focusing on the ways that uncertainty leads to shifts in once stable systems of moral, aesthetic and economic value (Graeber 2001). Whether resulting from the Brexit 'leave' vote and the election of Donald Trump or economic austerity measures, aging populations, deindustrialisation, ecological decline, conflict, (bio)security and disease - periods defined by uncertainty require us to pay close attention to the ways anthropologists do, write and theorise about ethnography. We therefore invite papers that consider the shifting values of participants in contexts marked by uncertainty, as well as the types of methods and methodologies that increase in value as anthropologists conduct research in such settings.