Inside 'symbiotic' anthropologies: collaborative practices

Victoria Goddard (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Sophie Day (Goldsmiths College, University of London)
Frances Pine (Goldsmiths College, University of London)
Room 5
Start time:
16 April, 2015 at 9:15
Session slots:

Short abstract:

The notion of symbiosis could imply a passive process of collaboration. This panel will focus on active practices and ask how collaboration is recognised and sustained among participants (for example, living or dead, human or non-human) and in different areas of anthropological practice.

Long abstract:

Collaboration is enshrined in anthropological method, yet over time the multiplicity of authors, contributors, perspectives and interests is often shed and edited out of anthropological work. We welcome papers that ask about the boundary between research collaborator and research subject and the implications of both blurring and sustaining this distinction. How do the connotations of collaboration shift over the course of particular projects or visions, between positive and negative values, across elements, such as a building, a text or a political network? Symbiosis might imply equilibrium but we wonder whether anthropological practices are marked rather by disequilibrium, in part because the temporalities of anthropological practice tend to be open-ended and recursive. Moreover, positions, values, visibility and recognition of different kinds of contributors/contributions change over time and vary by context: you might be an 'expert' contributor at one moment and a research subject at the next; you might share a given aim that is later contested; you might be structurally advantaged or disadvantaged by the institutional matrix. We invite contributions that explore whether implicit knowledge could be made explicit across collaborative relations. How can we sustain an orientation that is generated and governed by the process of research as it unfolds if we do not define the content of collaboration ahead of time? If ethnography can be seen simultaneously as method, data and theory (Das 2014), what working practices and what kinds of care practices are needed to sustain these collaborations? Finally, what anthropological visions might emerge from them?