P106
Meetings: the 'infrastructure' of work in local and global settings

Convenors:
Renita Thedvall (Stockholm University)
Helen Schwartzman (Northwestern University)
Format:
Panels
Location:
U6-1D
Start time:
21 July, 2016 at 9:00
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

Meetings are one of the most prevalent contemporary sites of ethnographic engagement. Yet, not enough anthropological attention has been placed on the ever so ubiquitous meeting. We invite papers to explore meetings as both ethnographic objects and as sites of ethnographic inquiry in various fields.

Long abstract:

Meetings are one of the most prevalent contemporary sites of ethnographic engagement. In policy organizations and community centres, bureaucratic and religious institutions, schools and corporations, working among militant activists and networking professionals alike, contemporary ethnographers often find that formal and associated informal meetings are where a great deal of the action is. Meeting ethnography (Sandler and Thedvall, forthcoming) is, for example, central for the investigation of social movements organising and enacting dissent, protest, participatory democracy, and diverse forms of radical political organisation (cf. Graeber 2009). Furthermore, with state affairs, corporate business and social movements often taking inter- and transnational forms, meetings are also the little-interrogated 'infrastructure' under which the much-discussed transnational flows of knowledge, capital, policy, cultural forms, and protest unfold. Yet, not enough attention has been placed on the meeting as an ethnographic site even though the organisation of work and bureaucratic processes often are understood as including the typical, boring, meeting. Helen Schwartzman's work (1989) being the exception where she points to the taken-for-grantedness of meetings in ethnographic writing. We invite papers to explore meetings as both ethnographic objects and as sites of ethnographic inquiry in various fields addressing ontological, epistemological, and methodological questions: what are meetings? What sort of knowledge, identities, and power relationships are produced, circulated, performed, communicated, legitimised and contested through meetings? How do—and how might—ethnographers study meetings as objects, and how might we best conduct research in meetings as particular elements of our field sites?