Accepted paper:

The pursuit of recognition and the challenge of hierarchy


Virginia Dominguez (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)

Paper short abstract:

This paper asks what the WCAA pursues--if it is internationalization, multinationalism, transnationalism, polylogy, or even heterology, and what they evoke. Posing hard questions, it asks how much of its goal is (or has been) the pursuit of mutuality and how much of it might be a strategic politics.

Paper long abstract:

This paper considers different ways of conceiving what the WCAA has been pursuing--from internationalization to multinationalism, transnationalism, polylogy, and heterology (to invoke Todorov). It explores what each evokes, among whom, and the hopes accompanying their evocation. Quite willing to see value in the WCAA but also serious challenges, it poses hard questions, including whether the WCAA has been based on mutuality, the pursuit of mutuality or, alternatively, a strategic politics more than an ethics of being. A particular historical moment led to the creation of the WCAA as a network but, as it looks ahead, issues that pertain more broadly to the world we live in loom large. Among these are (1) the role of nation-ness in our conception of the WCAA's main units, (2) the unequal size of the WCAA member organizations and the impact of size on influence and visibility, (3) hierarchies of power (implicit and explicit) within the world of anthropology, and (4) efforts to flatten those hierarchies, their relative successes, and failures. Despite great growth in the number of organizations joining the WCAA in its first decade, I will ask (1) if there aren't downsides to its reliance on national units; (2) if the WCAA has really succeeded in promoting a more de-centered anthropology than prior to its existence; and (3) if the WCAA is doing enough (despite the 2010 establishment of Task Forces and the 2013 launching of ASF--Antropologos sem fronteiras/Anthropologists without Borders).

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The past and future of the World Council of Anthropological Associations (WCAA Tenth Anniversary Symposium) CLOSED