Cosmopolitanism in the Academy: the creative potential of engagements with the disciplinary 'other'
Veronica Strang (Durham University)
Paper short abstract:
Anthropology is well placed to embark upon collaborative exchanges with diverse intellectual perspectives. By engaging with understandings of materiality in physics and biology, this paper explores the creative potential of cosmopolitan scholarship and openness to interdisciplinary symbiosis.
Paper long abstract:
Many anthropologists anticipate that the comparison of cultural difference will provide illuminating insights, and our disciplinary identity rests upon being ethnographically open to alternate understandings of the world and the co-construction of knowledge. However, there is sometimes more anxiety about interdisciplinary encounters, with a perceived need to defend the purity of ethnographic theories and methods and resist the hegemony (or the pollution) of academic 'others'. Yet anthropology has particular advantages in interdisciplinary collaborations: skills in cross-cultural translation; overlaps with multiple disciplinary areas of specialism; and holistic theoretical models with room to encompass a range of approaches to research questions. Anthropology may also be said to be intrinsically cosmopolitan, articulating meta-discursive theories in relation to local forms of knowledge. It is thus well placed to embark upon collaborative exchanges with diverse intellectual perspectives, and to support the development of an reunited academy. Through a brief consideration of some of the ways that dialogues with physics and biology can expand anthropological theories of materiality, this paper explores the creative potential of cosmopolitan scholarship and openness to interdisciplinary symbiosis.
Symbiotic anthropologies: new disciplinary relationships in an age of austerity