Doing anthropology differently: the impact of national infrastructures [Roundtable]
Ilana Gershon (Indiana University)
Anette Wickström (Linköping University)
Don Brenneis (University of California, Santa Cruz)
Lara McKenzie (The University of Western Australia)
Steffen Jöhncke (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)
Susan Wright (Århus University)
Tuesday 14 August, 13:15-15:00 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

This roundtable contributes to ethnographies of higher education and takes advantage of EASA's international composition. We will discuss how national institutional frameworks effect anthropology and how these frameworks shape the interdisciplinary conversations anthropologists can enter into.

Long abstract:

This roundtable aims to contribute to an emerging interest in ethnographies of higher education by taking advantage of EASA's international composition. We welcome a discussion on how national institutional frameworks shape how anthropology is done and how these frameworks shape the interdisciplinary conversations anthropology can enter into.

When anthropologists reflect on the practice of anthropology, they often turn to fieldwork. We consider ethics, power, possibilities of translation - across cultures, ontologies, classes, and so on. Yet the day to day tasks of being an anthropologist involves grading, meetings, mentoring, committee work, etc. All these tasks are shaped by their institutional, national and cultural contexts. The way anthropology is done in Finland differs from how anthropology is done in South Africa, Israel or Japan. How universities are organized, how research is funded, how the boundary between university and other places of employment are managed - all this matters.

Contemporary anthropology is done in many places beyond the 'traditional' academic anthropology department. Anthropologists co-exist institutionally with closely related social scientists sharing organisational settings or in interdisciplinary configurations devoted to the study of medicine, technology, business, tourism and so on. We present our work for lawmakers, politicians and decision-makers in business, in non-profit sectors, in courts - yet how this knowledge circulates depends greatly on those countries' legal and political institutions. Our knowledge is sought after which makes it worth considering from a comparative vantage point: what are the institutional infrastructures that enable anthropologists to produce and circulate our knowledge?