Accepted Paper:

Socio-cultural anthropology and the European research area: a Europeanist turn in the discipline?   


Andrés Barrera-González (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)

Paper short abstract:

The paper is an invitation to reflect on how the development of an institutional European arena in the domains of higher education and scientific research is affecting the status of the discipline in Europe. It also conveys a call for a more determined engagement as anthropologists in the shaping of these new scholarly landscapes.

Paper long abstract:

The stepping up of the processes of European convergence is having a decisive impact also in the fields of higher education and scientific research, particularly in countries that belong to the European Union. This shows, for instance, in the rising budgets and the broadening of research programmes under the so called Framework Programmes. The establishment in 2007 of an autonomous funding body, the European Research Council, marks a decisive turn in these developments. What is the position that anthropology and European anthropologists hold in this emerging competitive arena for research funding and policy formulation?

Research policy and funding at the EU level is a factor of growing importance in itself, and also because it is shaping developments at the national level significantly. Therefore, we run the risk of being marginalised as a discipline if we do not adequately face the challenges issuing from these institutional changes. Anthropology has on its side some unique and quite impressive scholarly assets; and it holds a great potential to act as a catalyst for interdisciplinary endeavours. Yet, anthropologists may have to make serious efforts in adapting some cherished principles in their practice, method and epistemology, if they are to become principal actors in this new scenario. This paper stands for a more integrated approach in our educational and research endeavours, for the unreserved engagement with neighbouring branches of knowledge in true and consistent interdisciplinary work. Lastly, and as Europeanist anthropologists in particular, I am of the opinion that we’ve got to get involved in the working out of collaborative research agendas, on issues that are socially relevant, policy oriented when appropriate, and responsive to practical application; which should not run counter to methodological rigour and high theoretical profile.

Panel W089
Europe and anthropology: new themes and directions in Europeanist eesearch