Webinar Series: Criticism Inside, Alternatives Alongside: Organizing Otherwise to Intervene in Anthropology’s Future

The Wenner-Gren Foundation in partnership with the UC Irvine School of Social Sciences are excited to announce a new webinar series, “Criticism Inside, Alternatives Alongside: Organizing Otherwise to Intervene in Anthropology’s Future“.

Organized by Bill Maurer (Dean of the School of Social Sciences, Professor of Anthropology, and Director of the Institute for Money, Technology, and Financial Inclusion, UC Irvine) and Taylor C. Nelms (Senior Director of Research, Filene Research Institute)

 With Kim Fernandes (University of Pennsylvania), Nina Medvedeva (University of Minnesota), Nima Yolmo (UC Irvine), and Chris Chan (University of Washington)

That the future of anthropology is up for grabs is not new. Anthropology has always been the outcome of struggle, and anthropologists and their allies have long sought to speak truth to power and to convey their own and others’ stories to address inequality, domination, and violence in all its forms. Our record is mixed, to say the least.

Yet the opportunity for intervention arrives anew, and seizing it requires confronting the methods of knowledge production/dissemination and professional reproduction together. What are the possibilities and limitations of working inside, outside, alongside, against, at the edges, or in the hybrid in-between spaces of anthropology’s multiple and heterogeneous publics? And how ought we imagine and describe the position of “public,” “applied,” or “practicing” anthropologists (all inadequate idioms) vis-a-vis academic anthropology and the organizations with whom they work?

This interview series, supported by a grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, will look to new spaces of inquiry and intervention outside the academy—in tech, finance, and nonprofit worlds, specifically—to explore new forms of knowledge production and dissemination and new kinds of organization and communication. The webinar series will feature anthropologists and other social scientists working across institutional boundaries and with partners outside the academy to put into practice alternative financial and economic arrangements. Speakers will take up what it means to make anthropology—and anthropologists—accountable to its history and to the political economic demands of the moment. And they will investigate what forms critique takes, and what other kinds of intervention are possible, in industries, from finance to tech to philanthropy, that hold concentrated power over the material lives of so many around the world.

SCHEDULE: All webinars will take place Fridays, 12-1pm U.S. Eastern Standard Time/9-10am Pacific.

October 23, 2020: 12-1pm EST/9-10am PST

#1 – Introducing the Series: Theory and Practice at the Edges of Academia

With Bill Maurer and Taylor C. Nelms



November 6, 2020: 12-1pm EST/9-10am PST

#2 – Civil and Civic Manipulations: Activism, Media, and Public Policy

With Joan Donovan, Research Director, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard University Kennedy School



December 4, 2020: 12-1pm EST/9-10am PST

#3 – Communicating and Community-Building: Working in, with, and against Big Tech

With Mary L. Gray, Senior Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research and Associate Professor, Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, & Engineering, Anthropology, and Gender Studies, Indiana University



December 18, 2020: 12-1pm EST/9-10am PST

#4 – Building Race as an Analytic into Anthropology, Within and Outside the Academy

With Sareeta Amrute, Director of Research, Data & Society



January 8, 2021: 12-1pm EST/9-10am PST

#5 – Expanding the Anthropological Imagination: Working in, with, and against Wall Street

With Hannah Appel, Associate Professor of Anthropology, UCLA



January 22, 2021: 12-1pm EST/9-10am PST

#6 – Precarious Professions, Organizing for the Future

With Eli Thorkelson



February 5th, 2021: 12-1pm EST/9-10am PST

#7 – Public, Open/Libre, Commons: Cultures of Liberation and the Liberation of Culture in Anthropology

With Alberto Corsín Jiménez, Reader, Department of Social Anthropology, Spanish National Research Council, Madrid



February 12, 2021: 12-1pm EST/9-10am PST

#8 – What Does Social Change Look Like?

Angela Russell, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, CUNA Mutual Group



February 26, 2021: 12-1pm EST/9-10am PST

#9 – On Emergencies: Socializing and Institutionalizing in Crisis

Federico Neiburg, Professor of Social Anthropology, Museu Nacional, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro



March 12, 2020: 12-1pm EST/9-10am PST

#10 – Pedagogical and Political Commitments: The Opportunities and Limitations of Anthropology outside the Academy

With Noelle Stout, Research Faculty, Apple University


While Wenner-Gren is proud to be providing a platform for this event, the views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Foundation.