The limits of collaboration 
Chika Watanabe (University of Manchester)
David Rojas (Bucknell University)
Saiba Varma (University of California San Diego)
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Start time:
20 July, 2016 at 14:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

This panel explores "circuits of collaboration"--uneven, parallel, and conflicting webs of relations that entangle ethnographers in ways they may not control or ethically condone. We invite papers on the limits of collaboration that take ethnography as a processual form of knowledge production.

Long Abstract

From open data to emergent climate politics, a growing number of responses to global crises hinge on "collaboration": methods whereby people combine diverse abilities and learning practices to face uncertain futures. Anthropological critiques calling for greater responsiveness to local needs have prompted collaborative movements such as participatory development and community psychiatry. Further, in response to changing conditions of fieldwork and institutional demands, anthropologists themselves increasingly rely on collaborations with interlocutors, other disciplines, and the public at large.

Despite the valorization of collaboration globally, and although collaborative methods offer anthropologists new opportunities for ethnographic engagement, we propose to take stock of the limits of collaboration. We are particularly interested in moments when the ethical, emotional, or political costs of collaboration become too high or when collaboration may conflict with other ethical and political positions.

This panel will enact and self-reflect on collaboration by pre-circulating papers and brainstorming possible collaborative futures in anthropology. We invite papers that examine anthropology in existing 'circuits of collaboration' when uneven, parallel, and conflicting webs of relations entangle ethnographers in alliances that they may not control or condone. We are particularly interested in exploring collaborative 'short circuits' wherein collaboration makes certain relations, moments, and narratives legible while rendering others illegible. What anthropological futures can emerge or be hindered from collaborations that intend to have "impact" and be "relevant"? What can we learn from the affective intensities of collaborations gone awry? What structural conditions are required for 'successful' collaborations to occur between ethnographers and their interlocutors?

Accepted papers: