Culture, context and controversy 
Christina Toren (St. Andrews University)
Deborah James (LSE)
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Wills 3.31
Start time:
20 September, 2006 at 11:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

This session is proposed in celebration of the work of Adam Kuper, who is due to retire in 2007.

Long Abstract

Adam Kuper has always been intrigued by the history of ideas. From his earliest interest in the history of UK social anthropology, through his exploration of why western scholars invented primitive society, to the history of European close marriages in relation to the development of kinship studies, he has been fascinated by how contexts mould academic concerns and how these concerns in turn shape their contexts. One aspect of his work on this has been to explore how different schools of Anthropology - British, American, etc - have emerged. But his work on these national traditions goes beyond mere academic interest. He has also actively contributed to the founding, and encouraged the further development of, other schools, as well as helping to promote dialogue and debate among and between these. Most notably, for present purposes, is his role as co-founder of EASA itself, but he also played an important part in founding the PAAA (Pan African Anthropological Association). In the midst of all these activities and intellectual interests, Adam has been noted for his plain speaking about cultural sacred cows. His critical perspective on claims of indigenous people, in particular, in his recent paper 'The Return of the Native', has sparked controversy. We invite papers, debates or panel discussions that reflect presenters' own perspectives on the topics below. Rather than including deliberate reference to Adam's own work, we encourage papers and ideas that provide a diversity of insights on these matters, from the writer's own point of view. 'Culture wars': Britain, America, Europe and Africa in changing anthropological trajectories; Trajectories in anthropology: how social and intellectual contexts produce anthropological concerns. Organisationally, the session will include formal paper-based panels as well as panels focused on key papers which then invite broader discussion and debate.

Accepted papers: