On anthropological frontiers: divisions and intersections between environment, personhood and sociality
Julia Sauma (University of Bergen)
Antonia Walford (University College London)
All Souls Wharton Room
Start time:
20 September, 2018 at 9:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Reflecting on its potential for rethinking anthropology, this panel considers the work that the idea of "frontier" does to conjure divisions - between places and people - and intersections, such as those between matter and sociality, human and nonhuman, the conceptual, empirical and political.

Long abstract:

"Frontier" is the propeller of expansive imaginations, of heroic and foundational conflicts in Euro-American imperialism and nationalism. As part of such imaginaries it has also come to describe empirical situations, places and peoples who have been drawn into this way of thinking the world, often in violent ways.

In the contemporary postcolony, the concept of frontier not only describes Empire's ever-shifting territorial boundaries, but also works to shape multiple and contested zones of extraction, control, exclusion and inclusion. These zones are both internal and external to metropolitan centres, areas of militarisation and conflict, national boundaries, scientific networks, biospheres and atmospheres; internal and external to people, who can be both citizen and alien. Ultimately, frontier makes explicit the endurance of colonialism (Stoler, 2016), instigating us to rethink its myriad divisions as intersections between, amongst other things, matter and sociality, the human and nonhuman, the past and the present, the conceptual, empirical and political.

The panel invites submissions from those who are interested in thinking frontier across a range of contexts, in transitional zones, or those who are reflecting on more self-conscious "internal frontiers" (Balibar 2002). What are the infrastructural and boundary-making projects that have transformed landscapes into frontiers? How does frontier as concept and practice delimit or extend ideas of time, personhood and place? What linguistic and cultural relations and transformations have emerged specifically from these zones? How are relations between the human and nonhuman different (or not) from within the frontier? We welcome papers that address questions such as these.