Upcoming November Conference

15th Congress of the Latin American Association for Biological Anthropology

November 1 – 4 2018

Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

Since 1990, the Latin American Association for Biological Anthropology (ALAB) meets every two years in different cities across Latin America. This will be its 15th meeting (Congress), and the first to take place in Puerto Rico or any jurisdiction under the United States of America. As expressed in its by-laws, ALAB will organize meetings to contribute to the development of Latin American researchers and professors for the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge in the field of Biological Anthropology. Meetings serve has hubs for networking among Latin American researchers, their students, and world-renown investigators undertaking anthropological research on issues related to Latin America. Collaborations for research and dissemination initiatives are developed. The 15th meeting is expected to join approximately 300 participants from across Latin America, including the Caribbean, plus invited speakers from the United States, Europe and elsewhere.

Upcoming September Conferences

4th AIBR International Conference of Anthropology

September 4-7, 2018

Granada, Spain

After the success of our three previous editions, in 2018 the 4th AIBR International Conference of Anthropology will take place in Granada (Spain). AIBR’s yearly conference has become a meaningful and necessary gathering for anthropologists from many parts of the world, but specially from Iberoamerica (Spain, Portugal, and Latin America). This year we will meet around the general theme “Dialogues, Encounters, and Stories from the Souths”. This is a special edition of the Conference where we aim to bring together research, narratives and testimonies from non-Western scholars. We want to bring to the spotlight anthropology as it is practiced in countries and by scholars who situate themselves outside mainstream anthropological theory and practice. Focusing on narratives from the Souths brings us an opportunity to recognize diverse genres of research, writing, and scholarship coming from places and universities that are rarely mentioned in the top rated scientific journals of our discipline.

In the 4th AIBR International Conference we continue to build on the experience of our previous editions. In 2015, the II Conference was held in Barcelona, with sponsorship from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, where a total of 876 delegates met and 140 panels took place. The high turnout in Madrid (1st edition), Barcelona (2nd edition) and Puerto Vallarta (3rd edition) and the positive feedback received from the Conference participants showed that it was necessary to create further spaces for dialogue within Iberoamerican anthropology. In 2017 we were able to cross the Ocean. The Puerto Vallarta edition (Mexico) brought together scholars from 28 different countries. The 4th edition of this conference will be jointly organized by AIBR (Network of Iberoamerican Anthropologists) and the University of Granada (Department of Social Anthropology and Institute of Migrations). The conference aims to create a space that combines a range of traditional and innovative forms of dissemination of knowledge to inspire discussion and debate.

8th Annual European Society For The Study of Human Evolution Meeting

September 13-15, 2018

Faro, Portugal

ESHE, the European Society for the study of Human Evolution, promotes the broad field of research which investigates how humans evolved both biologically and culturally. Contributing disciplines typically include hominin palaeontology and palaeogenetics; comparative and functional studies of extant primates, using both morphological and molecular evidence; Palaeolithic archaeology; and applied studies of stable isotopes, dating, taphonomy, palaeoecology and palaeogeography.

ESHE aims to stimulate communication and scientific cooperation between scientists, and to improve public understanding of human evolution. Core activities of the society are: the organization of yearly meetings with a scientific programme, as well as a public-outreach event; encouraging and helping the development of international and interdisciplinary research proposals and projects, and initiating and supporting activities which increase the public visibility of human evolution studies.

The ESHE annual conference brings together an average of over 350 experts and graduate students that present the most recent research in human evolution and adaptation in Plio-Pleistocene contexts, including results from biological-physical research, archaeology, geoarchaeology, zooarchaeology, earth sciences, aDNA, isotopes, etc.

21st Congress Of The Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association

September 23-28, 2018

Hue, Vietnam

This 21st IPPA Congress will gather indigenous Indo-Pacific and other, mainly “Western”, scholars to discuss diverse themes in Indo-Pacific prehistory. As per IPPA procedure, convenors will organize sessions around topical themes in Indo-Pacific archaeology, cultural heritage, natural science, comparative linguistics, cultural anthropology and biological anthropology and genetics. The IPPA region extends W-E from Pakistan to Easter Island, and N-S from Siberia to Australasia. Conference topics can concern any part of this area.

IPPA congresses run every 4 years in collaboration with in-country institutions, most recently at Angkor with the Royal Academy of Cambodia and Khmer Archaeological Society in 2014. Past co-sponsors include the Institute of Archaeology in Hanoi (late 2009), the Philippines National Museum and University of the Philippines in Manila (2006), Academia Sinica in Taipei (2002), and the National Museum of Malaysia in Melaka (1998). The 21st Congress in 2018 is co-organised with the Hue Monuments Conservation Centre and the Institute of Archaeology in the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences.

 

Upcoming August Conference

15th Biennial European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA)

August 14 – 18, 2018

Stockholm, Sweden

Recent times, for much of humanity but not least in Europe, have been marked by dramatic mobility. It has taken many forms: refugee streams and labor migration, but also pilgrimage, tourism, and the transnational leisure migration of retirees. It is continuously in the news. Mobility has long been a topic in anthropological research. In view of the range and importance of its current forms, mobility is a suitable main theme of the 2018 conference of EASA. The conference will not only focus narrowly on the forms of spatial movement, but willl reflect the variety of its backgrounds, forms and contexts, and longer-term implications ranging from communities left behind, infrastructures of mobility, and the meaning of home, to the relationships between mobility and social media, and the public uses of anthropology. While providing opportunity for reports on ongoing and recent research, this will in addition inspire future anthropological investigations.

The conference brings together scholars and students from across Europe and beyond;
thus creating new formal and informal relationships and collaborations. The Department of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University has a longstanding extensive engagement with EASA. The Department is prominent internationally not least through its teaching, research and publications on globalization and migration. Building on this, the 15th EASA conference will be an excellent opportunity to further develop this international network, and encourage scholars, especially young ones and students, to broaden the scope of their collaborative networks.

Upcoming July Conferences

Eighth Conference of The International Society For Gesture Studies: Gesture and Diversity

July 4-8, 2018

Cape Town, South Africa

The first conference on gesture on the African continent will focus on the rich diversity of human gestural communication. Gestures and gestural behavior are dynamic and changing –  varying not only across languages and cultures but also within cultural groups according to social levels, age, gender and situation.

The main aim of this conference will be to examine the wide range of linguistic and cultural phenomena and other factors that influence and shape gestural diversity. Special emphasis will be on comparative work looking at, but not limited to:

  1. Studies on gestural form, meaning and function;
  2. The relationship of gesture to language, whether spoken or signed;
  3. Gesture in language development and learning among children in different cultures and multilingual contexts;
  4. Gesture in language learning and conceptual development;
  5. Individual variation in gesture use and comprehension;
  6. The link between gesture and cognitive, cultural and linguistic diversity;
  7. Studies of gestural forms and practices across languages and cultures;
  8. Gesture and its role in sign language variation.

Global Survey of Anthropological Practice (World Council Of Anthropological Associations Biennial Conference)

July 14-15, 2018

Florianopolis, Brazil

The 2018 biennial conference of the World Council of Anthropological Associations (WCAA) will assess the contemporary global range of anthropological activities, including such foci as: the articulation of applied and academic anthropology; the institutional distribution of anthropologists’ employment; the local, regional and global challenges addressed by diverse forms of anthropological engagement; and the teaching of anthropology in non-university contexts. WCAA delegates representing member associations will present papers based upon research they have conducted to explore the parameters of anthropological practice among their constituencies in each nation-state and region they represent, as well as drawing upon the results of a common survey instrument designed and administered by the WCAA in 2017. This conference seeks through these facets of this Global Survey of Anthropological Practice to investigate how anthropologists are confronting such issues as precarity across a range of work places and the populist backlash against policies of multiculturalism, accommodation of migrants and other aspects of globalization by examining what anthropologists across diverse settings are doing and contributing both within the academy and in applied occupations and thus address how ‘scientific research and scholarship can be, has been or will be employed to understand and engage in social processes’.

18th World Congress Of IUAES World (Of) Encounters: The Past, Present And Future Of Anthropological Knowledge

July 16-20, 2018

Florianopolis, Brazil

Anthropology is always remaking itself. Whilst keeping old and new relationships with several other disciplines, it has proven to be able to fill unique scholarly niches that have granted the discipline a distinct and recognizable profile. This proposal is a large umbrella to discuss the many old and new encounters anthropology is made of as well as to prospect for what anthropology might be in the future. It is ample enough to accommodate different research, methodological and theoretical interests of cultural and social anthropologists, of physical anthropologists, archaeologists and linguists. Research is made of encounters and findings. What/which are the encounters that inform anthropologists’ findings? In a changing globalized world how has anthropological knowledge persisted and how will it tackle the political and epistemological challenges of our times?

From this theme, key notes, panels, symposia, workshops, exhibitions, ethnographic videos, short courses, workshops and other activities of interest to IUAES will be organized, with ample participation from the world anthropological community.

 

Twelfth International Conference On Hunting And Gathering Societies (CHAGS 12)

July 23-27, 2018

Penang, Malaysia

The Twelfth International Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies (CHAGS 12) will deliberate on the theme of “Situations, Times, and Places in Hunter-Gatherer Research.” This broad umbrella is meant to provoke thinking on productive connections and confluences across disciplines and with non-specialists while maintaining CHAGS’ historical embrace of egalitarian inclusiveness. These conferences generate intellectual exchange, advanced knowledge of the lives and times of hunter-gatherers, and have shaped anthropological theory. For CHAGS 12, emphasis will be placed on Southeast Asian peoples, and what they continue to teach us about anthropological models and practices. We aim to cultivate not just diversity in concept-building but good anthropological practices of working with and relating to hunter-gatherers by:

•     Drawing into conversation researchers who do not normally identify with CHAGS or hunter-gatherer studies (particularly local and regional scholars), and nearby hunter-gatherer communities and their advocates;

•     Promoting discussion and debate across the four fields of anthropology on hunter-gatherer practices and their potential to revitalize anthropological models;

•     Highlighting problems in doing and producing hunter-gatherer ethnography that is more aligned with indigenous models of knowledge, and recognizing the value of ethnography across the subfields;

•     Encouraging more precise geographical comparisons.

Upcoming June Conference

9th  Meeting of Archaeological Theory in South America (IX Reunión de Teoría Arqueológia de América del Sur, TAAS)

June 4-8, 2018

Ibarra, Ecuador

The South America Theoretical Archaeology meeting or TAAS (Teoría Arqueológica de América del Sur) is based on the collective reflection of Latin American archaeologists about the situation and projection of archaeological theory and practice in the Southern Hemisphere.  This 9th version will focus on issues of gender, sexuality, race and local ancestral communities, specifically to address and look into challenging the patriarchal, homophobic and racist undertones that have historically permeated archaeological research in Latin America.

The 9th TAAS will bring together around 500 participants from throughout the Americas to discuss how to better critically engage race, sexuality and indigenous issues that are central to the continent’s archaeological heritage.  To this effect, particular emphasis has been placed on inviting local Afro-American (continentally-speaking) and ancestral community members, as well as, highlighting feminist and queer archaeological theoretical insights and contributions.  Finally, the meeting will also emphasize recruiting undergraduate and graduate archaeology and anthropology students throughout the continent to engage in these discussions on race and sexuality in Latin American archaeology, to hopefully contribute into changing the current hegemonic discourses of the discipline in the region.

TAAS has historically looked to challenge the dominant theoretical paradigms of the discipline and provide nuanced perspectives to understand our intricate relationship with the past.  With the support of international institutions such as the World Archaeological Congress (WAC), TAAS was born in Argentina in 1996. The first meeting was held in 1998 and, since then, versions have been organized in Argentina (twice), Brazil (twice), Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, and Bolivia.  This 9th TAAS will, for the first time, take place in Ecuador in the city of Ibarra

Symposium #157: “Disability Worlds”

This past March Wenner-Gren headed west to Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch in Tucson, AZ for the 157th Symposium, “Disability Worlds”, organized by Faye Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp of New York University. The meeting’s edited papers will appear in a forthcoming supplement to Current Anthropology, 100% free and open access

Kneeling: Rayna Rapp, Michele Friedner, Susan Reynolds Whyte, Cassandra Hartblay, Tom Boellstorff, Ayo Wahlberg, Laurie Obbink. Standing: Devva Kasnitz, Beatriz Miranda-Galarza, Faye Ginsburg, Herbert Muyinda, Arseli Dokumaci, Laurence Ralph, Tyler Zoanni, Richard Grinker, Patrick Devlieger, Danilyn Rutherford, Renu Addlakha, Pam Block, Lori Stavropoulos (CART Writer), Tanya Marie Anderson (Revoicer)

 

ORGANIZERS‘ STATEMENT

“Disability Worlds”

Faye Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp (New York University)

Anthropology is well known for its capacious and ever-expanding framework and its embrace of diversity. Yet, as we argued in our 2013 Annual Review chapter “Disability Worlds”, this universal circumstance – how the realities of embodied, cognitive, and emotional impairments are understood in different socio-cultural contexts as part of the human condition — has too often been neglected in our field.  Ethnographic studies of embodiment, personhood, kinship, gender/sexuality/reproduction, cognitive diversity, violence and its disabling aftermath, as well as citizenship and biopolitics remain incomplete and undertheorized without the consideration of disability. This framework provides a powerful lens to refocus and potentially transform thinking about new and enduring concerns shaping contemporary anthropology. At its most basic, the recognition of disability as a social fact helps us to understand the cultural specificities of personhood and to reconsider the unstable boundaries of the category of the human.

This symposium addresses the transformative value of critical anthropological studies of disability for many of our discipline’s key questions.  Historically, anthropological studies of disability were relatively rare until the late twentieth century, often intellectually segregated into the realm of medical and applied anthropology.  Yet, the international spread and uneven impact of the disability rights movement in the 21st century, as well as cross-cultural work in anthropology show that what counts as a disability in different cultural settings is not obvious. The need for research and theorization cannot be underestimated, given that approximately 80% of the world’s one billion people with disabilities reside in what is glossed as “the global south.”   Anthropologists have interrogated the limits of a Western individualizing model when studying disability across the world. This work examines the presence or absence of disability in familial, community, religious and political life as constructed by larger notions of the social, relatedness, personhood, as well as diverse epistemologies regarding “normalcy.”  Our conference builds on this work, and is premised on the recognition that disability is not a category of difference unto itself; rather, it is profoundly relational and radically contingent, dependent on specific social and material conditions that too often exclude full social participation in society. Beyond such exclusions, a focus on disability also reveals creative cultural production. Unexpected sites of innovation, inclusion and the reframing of “the normal” are producing new kinds of “disability worlds.”

This is a propitious moment to gather a group of international scholars to consider how a disability perspective can expand and transform the discipline as anthropologists increasingly focus on the social, political, experiential, narrative and phenomenological dimensions of living with particular impairments in different cultural settings across the life span. Our symposium builds on the work of anthropologists who incorporate a critical disability studies perspective, working in diverse settings to consider if and how the promissory note of expanding inclusion (as well as barriers to it) shape the “world-making” of people living with disabilities and their allies. We hope to collectively grasp how the experience of disability — whether named or unnamed – is reshaping understandings of personhood and boundaries of the human, while always accounting for broader social contexts that enable and constrain disability worlds. Concretely, this entails anthropological attention to this essential form of difference whether one studies kinship, sexuality, activism and political movements, technologies, religion, alternative communication/language practices, or the sensorium in light of atypical forms of cognitive and sensory processing and many other topics.

At the conference, we seek to understand how disability can provide a critical anthropological perspective on “everyday life with a difference,” often experienced in the shadow of a selectively globalizing neoliberal economy.  Disability is implicated in circumstances of increasing precarity, exacerbated by the erosion and privatization of resources in late capitalism as well as the environmental impact of the anthropocene. Additionally, the survival of fragile infants and those with chronic disease, along with the expansion of people living into “extreme old age” all challenge the scarcity of social labor for caregiving for those with disabilities (and other dependents) across the life cycle. At the same time, social movements for disability rights, spreading unevenly across the globe since the late twentieth century, have made powerful claims for the growing recognition and inclusion of disability.  This is in tension with the drive toward perfectibility that fuels culturally seductive neo-eugenic medical interventions, now routinized in everyday biopolitics such as genetic testing for selective abortion of fetuses with potential disabilities; this technology is rapidly diffusing from rich to middle and low-income countries. Such interventions raise utopian hopes of individual perfectibility and control that challenge the reality of disability and the crucial role of kinship, community, religion and other longstanding cultural resources for support and inclusion. These are essential to the interdependence on which disability integration ultimately depends.  Moreover, other instances of rapidly transforming technologies – including media, prosthetics, social networks, infrastructure, and assistive communication devices along with attendant therapies – have produced life-changing opportunities for people with disabilities and their supporters, across domains ranging from disability rights activism, to public culture, to intimate realms of kin and friendship where personhood and disability worlds take shape. All require political will as well as a recognition that disability futures are fragile and uncertain at best. Nonetheless, we ask conference participants to consider how our work, individually and collectively, might contribute to building an ethics of possibility in the construction of disability worlds.

Toward that end, the symposium is organized around the following topics.

  • Decolonizing Disability in Anthropology
  • Sexuality/ Gender/Kinship
  • Biopolitics and its discontents
  • Inclusion/exclusion and habitable worlds
  • Technology, Creativity, media
  • Precarity, Violence, mobility.

We anticipate that each topic will also incorporate issues of kinship, activism, political transformation and discrimination, collaborative methods/theory, reflexivity, and life course perspectives.

Workshop Grantees Launch “An Anthropocene Primer”

In 2016 Drs. Fiona McDonald and Jason Kelly received a Conference and Workshop Grant to aid their workshop on “Anthropology of the Anthropocene: Structures, Theories, Practices”. A direct outgrowth of the workshop is An Anthropocene Primeran innovative open access, open peer review publication that guides learners through the complex concepts and debates related to the Anthropocene, including climate change, pollution, and environmental justice.

This born-digital publication is a critical and timely resource for learners across multiple fields from academia, to industry, to philanthropy to learn about issues and topics relating to the Anthropocene, a framework for understanding environmental change that highlights human impact on earth systems.

An Anthropocene Primer was created to provide learners in museums, schools, non-profits, and formal research institutions with an entry point into some of the big concepts and debates that dominate discussions about the Anthropocene. The primer is not intended to be comprehensive (this is, after all, An Anthropocene Primer, not The Anthropocene Primer), nor is it intended to be didactic. The primer is a framework to guide individual and collaborative learning from the beginner to advanced levels.

Version 1.0 of An Anthropocene Primer is available for open peer review from October 23, 2017 through February 1, 2018. Open peer review allows users to contribute to and engage with fellow readers and the authors as the editors develop it for a final print and open access ebook version. A video tutorial on how to participate in open peer review is available at  www.anthropoceneprimer.org/index.php/videotutorials/.

Edited by Jason M. Kelly and Fiona P. McDonald, An Anthropocene Primer emerged from the “Anthropology of the Anthropocene” workshop hosted by the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute in May 2017. The participants from this workshop make up list of authors: Jason M. Kelly (IUPUI, USA), Fiona P. McDonald (IUPUI, USA), Alejandro Camargo (University of Montreal, Canada), Amelia Moore (University of Rhode Island, USA), Mark Kesling (The daVinci Pursuit, USA), Ananya Ghoshal (Forum on Contemporary Theory, India), George Marcus (University of California, Irvine, USA), Paul Stoller (West Chester University, USA), Dominic Boyer (Rice University, USA), Serenella Iovino (University of Turin, Italy), Rebecca Ballestra (Artist, Monaco/Italy), Eduardo S. Brondizio (IU, Bloomington), Jim Enote (A:shiwiw A:wan Museum and Heritage Center, Zuni, USA), Ignatius Gutsa (University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe), Cymene Howe (Rice University, USA), Sue Jackson (Griffith University, Australia), Phil Scarpino (IUPUI, USA). This workshop was funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the IU New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities grant program.


Symposium #156: “Patchy Anthropocene: Frenzies and Afterlives of Violent Simplifications”

This past September Wenner-Gren found itself back at Tivoli Pálacio de Seteais in Sintra, Portugal for the 156th Symposium, “Patchy Anthropocene: Frenzies and Afterlives of Violent Simplifications”. Be on the lookout for the upcoming special issue of Current Anthropology for the meeting’s papers, available to all 100% Open-Access.

Laurie Obbink, Jacob Doherty, Rosa Ficek, Donna Haraway, Heather Swanson, Ivette Perfecto, Anna Tsing, Zahirah Suhaimi, Kate Brown, Vanessa Agard-Jones, Naveeda Khan, Danilyn Rutherford, Andrew Mathews, Nils Bubandt, Natasha Myers, Frédéric Keck, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Atsuro Morita, Mike Hadfield

 

ORGANIZERS’ STATEMENT

Patchy Anthropocene: Frenzies and Afterlives of Violent Simplifications 

Anna Tsing (University of California, Santa Cruz / Aarhus University, Denmark)

Nils Bubandt (Aarhus University, Denmark)

Andrew Mathews (University of California, Santa Cruz)

When geologists first argued that modern humans were a geological force and should have an epoch named after them—Anthropocene—cultural anthropologists were skeptical.  After all, the term encapsulated many of the problems anthropologists have pointed to in science policy, including willingness to view the planet as a homogeneous space and the human race as a homogenous group.  In the past few years, however, anthropologists have begun to join multidisciplinary conversations in hopes that anthropological insights might reshape Anthropocene discussions, and, conversely, that the urgencies of the Anthropocene might spark a new anthropology.  This Wenner-Gren Symposium pushes forward this agenda through an exploration of a “patchy Anthropocene,” that is, the fragmented landscapes of livability and unlivability created by colonialism and industrial development.  On the one hand, we are concerned with “violent simplifications,” that is, ecological estrangements and displacements that threaten more-than-human livability.  On the other hand, we do not look for these threats merely in elite plans; instead, our focus is on the unintentional design of landscapes, that is, the social and ecological arrangements that have developed beyond the planning of any authority.

To invoke the unintentional is not to argue for pure souls who should not be blamed for destroying the earth.  Indeed, blaming is often useful in sparking remedial action. However, our point is to move beyond the dreams of engineers to attend to the consequences of their actions, whether or not they imagined them.  Predicting the fate of the earth through the strange dreams of planners is a powerful bad habit that has developed over the last several centuries and continues to reign in the shape of a vision of a “good Anthropocene”; we refuse that vision.  This allows us, too, to offer full regard to the historically shifting actions of nonhumans, both living and nonliving.  Some nonhumans become allies of industrial and imperial landscape engineering; others interrupt their simplifications and coercions.  Landscapes are the sediments of both kinds of actions, along with those of both elite and subaltern humans.

Three kinds of unintentional design inform our discussion.  First, we examine the logics and limits of ecological simplifications, as these have been key to the making of “resources” for capital, on the one hand, and the invasion of indigenous space, on the other.  Second, we track forms of violence that exceed the logics of planners.  Finally, we turn to hope amidst apocalypse—of the kind that emerges out of unintentional design.  Together, these kinds of unintentionality help us describe a patchy Anthropocene in which threats to livability are far from randomly distributed.  By investigating more-than-human landscapes that emerge from, yet also exceed, industrial and imperial plans, we hope to identify “Anthropocene-in-the-making.”  This also means sketching the contours of an anthropology pushed onto new terrain in its efforts to explore a world where the violence of modern simplification and the poisons of the Great Acceleration are creating new worlds of livability and unlivability. Anthropology, we suggest, is currently in a moment of experiment and retooling that would allow it to align the potential of a more-than-human anthropology with insights from critical political history; to cultivate new forms of collaboration that are open to learning from indigenous cosmologies as well as from the natural sciences and environmental activism; and to study both the secular rationalities of a world in ecological crisis and the nonsecular fissures of hope and wonder amidst disaster.

The Symposium begins the arduous process, then, of intervening in debates about dramatic environmental change by describing the Anthropocene with the tools that anthropology can make available—through trans-disciplinary collaboration, ethnographic insight into indigenous worlds, as well as critical reflection about the otherwise—in full recognition of heterogeneity and power differences across life on earth.  Anthropology, arguably, has always been the study of unintended consequences; our conference brings this anthropological perspective to more-than-human landscapes.

The three themes of the Symposium are addressed in three sessions, each organized into dialogues.

I. More-than-human estrangements: what worlds do simplification and acceleration make?

A puzzle to consider: The proliferation of modern engineering has also been the proliferation of pests and plagues.

Projects of state-making and empire building, of weaving world-spanning commodity networks and intrusive bureaucracies, have helped produce the environmental and cultural transformations that we now call Anthropocene. Such projects have focused on controlling plants, animals, and material processes, and on related efforts to define and control the people who work in plantations, factories, farms, or broader landscapes.  At every stage, efforts to control humans and nonhumans have been undermined or reworked by transformations and escapes from control, sometimes visibly, sometimes almost unnoticed. From the Columbian exchange, which moved people, plants, animals and diseases between the Old and New World, to plantation economies which helped bring into being smallholder cultivation systems and forms of anti- and decolonial political resistance, to more recent efforts to build factory-farm systems that have produced new diseases, the ordering projects of modernity have continually undermined themselves, producing unexpected escapes, transformations, and estrangements. The first set of dialogues in this symposium asks participants to consider how world-making projects have produced unexpected consequences, how new and strange forms of human and non-human have come into being. How do the more-than-human relations of non-humans produce new diseases, new plants and animals, new kinds of human subjects, and new landscapes? How might the details of particular cases and landscapes help us understand the Anthropocene more widely, perhaps as “Plantationocene,” perhaps as “Capitalocene,” perhaps as something else? How might thinking of the spaces of modernist control as inhabited by excess and escape enrich anthropological engagements with the Anthropocene? What new concepts, methods or collaborations might we need in order to engage with these experimental spaces?

II. Patchy violence: what kinds of unlivability shape the Anthropocene?

A puzzle to consider: Why, despite continual assertions of its homogeneity, is the Anthropocene so uneven?

The Anthropocene is a time of heightened violence against all living things on earth; the big question today is whether enough can survive to allow the kinds of life on earth we inherited from the Holocene, and earlier epochs, to continue.  Species extinctions have rocketed; ecosystems disappear; industrial and military waste spreads around the planet.  Vulnerable humans and other forms of life bear the brunt of such violence—and sometimes stand in its way.  There is a lot for anthropologists to tackle in such challenges to livability.  In this conference, we’ll take up three themes.  First, beings other than humans make landscapes, and we turn to those “creatures of empire” (to use Virginia Anderson’s term) that wreck indigenous life-worlds along with humans.  These include animals and plants—but also nonliving things, including the waste products of urban life.  What kinds of landscapes are made by such ambivalent allies and enemies of human well-being?  Second, what species and ecosystems are destroyed in industrial and imperial conquest—and what possibilities are there for resistance, resilience, and survival?  This is a set of questions, too, in which biologists and anthropologists might look for common ground; the challenges of transdisciplinarity share center stage in discussing more-than-human vulnerabilities.   We hope to tackle these creatively.  Third, unintentional landscapes of the Anthropocene exist inside bodies as well as around them.  To track the poisons of our times, attention to the links between inner and outer landscapes is essential.  Poison is a key characteristic of the Anthropocene, and we need to understand its dynamics and its distribution.

III: Illegitimate hope: what more-than-human worlds are made amidst destruction?

A puzzle to consider: What do anthropological collaborations with natural scientists, with activists, and with indigenous spokespeople have in common?

The Anthropocene ties new terrors to novel kinds of hope.  Environmental change, global warming and the imminent prospect of mass extinction are pushing new modernist dreams of control, and the contemporary moment is replete with designs for carbon trading, climate engineering, re-wilding, DNA banking, and escapes to Mars.  Anthropology needs to pay attention to the ways in which the modernist project of human mastery and economic growth seeks to reinvent itself in the face of ecological apocalypse.  But other formations of hope, different kinds of conviviality, exist beyond this “good Anthropocene.”  The more-than-human worlds of indigenous communities around the world offer one kind of alternative. Critical environmental activism may hold the promise of another.  And Western science itself, long the backbone of the imagined modern conquest of Nature, is currently being transfigured, as new insights within the natural sciences into the fundamentally symbiotic and an interdependent make-up of life question cherished oppositions and concepts of modernity. All of these alternatives, disparate as they may be, point to another Anthropocene: patchy spaces in which human worlds critically depend on the world of spirits, animals, ghosts, plants and other non-humans. In an Anthropocene that is fundamentally unknown, uninvited, and unexpected, hope may also dwell.  The third session of the symposium explores this more-than-human Anthropocene as an occasion to reinvent anthropology, as an invitation to transdisciplinary collaboration, and as a space for illegitimate hopes for co-species survival. How might anthropology reinvent itself to explore the magic of the more-than-human comparatively across the worlds of indigenous communities, activist groups, and science? What possibilities of transdisciplinary collaboration exist when neither “the human” nor “Nature” is what we thought? What forms of radical hope for co-species survival exist in the critical zones of the Anthropocene?

Symposium #155: “Cultures of Militarism”

This past March Wenner-Gren once again returned to the Tivoli Palácio de Seteais in Sintra, Portugal for the 155th Symposium“Cultures of Militarism”. As always, you can expect a Current Anthropology special issue forthcoming, containing the meeting’s papers and available to all 100% Open-Access.

Front: Laurie Obbink, Diane Nelson, Danny Hoffman, Leslie Aiello, Daniel Goldstein, Erica Weiss, Maria Clemencia Ramirez. Middle: Alex Fattal, Scott Ross, Brian Rappert, Faisal Devji, Francisco Ferrándiz, Rema Hammami. Back: Andy Bickford, Tony Robben, Danilyn Rutherford, Hugh Gusterson, Catherine Besteman, Ayse Gul Altinay.

ORGANIZERS’ STATEMENT 

Cultures of Militarism

Catherine Besteman, Colby College

Hugh Gusterson, George Washington University

 Anthropological interest in militarism has grown dramatically in recent decades.  These years have seen the collapse of some Cold War client states, the proliferation of militia-led insurgencies, the increasing articulation of counterinsurgency abroad with domestic policing at home in many Western countries, the reformulation of the UN into an institution of militarized peacekeeping and occupation, and a growing awareness of the ways in which militarism as a set of cultural practices and ideologies pervades all domains of social life. The symposium aims to develop anthropological analyses of militarism as it is currently evolving both in the global north and south.  We are particularly interested in the ways the new militarism inflects law, gender, subjectivity, social memory, knowledge production, popular culture, labor, and cultural constructions of security.

Militarism is a cultural system; it is shaped through ideology and rhetoric, effected through bodies and technologies, made visible and invisible through campaigns of imagery and knowledge production, and it colonizes aspects of social life such as reproduction, self-awareness, and notions of community.  We seek to provoke conversations about militarism in its established and emergent forms, probing its genealogies, its facility at colonizing daily life, and its ability to present itself as a response to insecurities it has itself provoked.

The new militarism operates through a variety of legal and territorial regimes.  Arrangements of occupation, as in Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, coexist with the U.S. archipelago of hundreds of foreign military bases.  Meanwhile the replacement of state militaries throughout the world with militarized non-state entities that may operate outside of national and international law, such as militias, private security contractors, pirates, and even NGOs is shifting militarism in some contexts from a set of state-sanctioned and controlled structures to a contested, often opaque, set of negotiations and confrontations between actors responding to the demands and desires of leaders who may or may not have any legal or official political recognition.  How can we make sense of an emerging world order where powerful military entities are ascendant that may not represent the interests of states and who may not be responsive to international agreements concerning warfare? What is the role of law in this emergent world order?

We will also discuss the implications of new military technologies.  These include drones and surveillance technologies that enable targeted killings and renditions outside of formally declared warzones, as well as technologies to shield and re-engineer the human body.  Military practice is also inflected by new media technologies and the projects of memorialization they enable. How are militarized acts and atrocities recorded, analyzed, remembered, archived?  What are the implications of the new relationships being forged in the US between military and popular culture creators, such as Hollywood films, video game companies, and toy companies?  How does cultural production through military-entertainment professionals shape the militarization of knowledge, subjectivity, and cultural memory?

We would also like to explore the expansion of militarism into other social domains through the broad militarization of security, such as in policing, border security and migration, humanitarian interventions, and responses to natural disasters. Police forces in the US adopt heavy military materiel produced for war; US military forces train police forces in African and Middle Eastern countries; humanitarian interventions in the Balkans, Haiti, and African countries are now routinely conducted in collaboration with or through institutions run by military organizations; immigration control across southern Europe, the US-Mexican border, and in Israel makes increasing use of military technology, tactics, and practices to police the movement of people.

We aim for a symposium and, beyond that, an outstanding special issue of Current Anthropology that, while anchored in the perspective of anthropology, brings together in conversation analyses from different disciplines (including geography and political science), perspectives from the global south as well as the north, and analytic frames grounded in a range of epistemologies.

Upcoming March – April Conferences

The 13th SIEF (Societe Internationale D’ethnologie Et De Folklore) Congress on “Ways of Dwelling: Crisis Craft Creativity”

March 26-30 2017

Gottingen, Germany

Image courtesy SIEF

With members from across Europe and a growing of attendees from other continents, the intent of this conference is to foster international exchange and increase the visibility and contributions of ethnological anthropological research across national boundaries. Rather than displacement and mobility this congress focuses on the challenges posed by masses of people seeking to make temporary or permanent homes in new places. Themes to be explored include urgent topics in the ethnographic disciplines: free and forced migration, social integration, urban transformation, heritage and heritage loss. Bringing these research programs into conversation with old and new work on craft and creativity, the goal is to energize crisis-driven thinking by demonstrating how anthropological and ethnological research can contribute to intractable problems.

 

13th Meeting of Historians in Latin American Mining (MHLM) “Interdisciplinary Dialogues and Challenges Around Past and Present Latin American Mining”

April 4-7, 2017 

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Image courtesy MHLM

This April for it’s thirteenth conference the Meeting of Historians in Latin American Mining (MHLM) will be held at the Institute of Anthropology, University of Buenos Aires. This will mark the first time MHLM has held its conference at an anthropological institution. Traditionally the MHLM conference is organized by institutions more related to historical discipline. It’s within this setting that MHLM aims for a more interdisciplinary conference than in years past.

While Argentina doesn’t have a tradition in mining studies as compared to Mexico and Chile local researchers have recently shown a growing interest in this issue, especially archaeologists and historical anthropologists. As is the case this years conference will allow to expand and improve the investigations developed here by learning from experiences, theories and methodologies already applied in other regions of Latin America.

MHLM intends to open a discussion on the ethical, political and social problems regarding mining strip projects developed currently in different regions of the continent, which have caused serious social and environmental conflicts. These conflicts have questioned the benefits of mining, highlighting the negative impacts to the environment and the cultural and archaeological heritage and also to the development of social and economic life of the workers and other inhabitants of the mining area. Therefore, social application plans are expected from these discussions.

Keynote speakers will be addressing the current status of research in pre-Columbian, Colonial and present mining as well as the development of the investigations on this subject and the history of the meetings.

 

European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association Annual Conference

April 6-8, 2017

Paris, France

Image courtesy EHBEA

The European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association (EHBEA) was established to meet the growing demand for a European platform for human evolutionary research. This April EHBEA will be holding their sixth annual conference in Paris, France at the Ecole Normale Superieure where in which researchers from the fields of human behavioral ecology, evolutionary anthropology, cultural evolution and evolutionary psychology will gather together for an exchange of ideas and to develop new research networks. The goal of this years conference is to highlight research on social cognition in evolutionary anthropology.

Dan Sperber (Central University of Budapest) and Rebeca Bliege-Bird (Stanford University) will deliver the keynote.

The conference will also feature two panels presenting work that link social cognition and evolutionary anthropology. In addition there will be to two poster sessions, the second of which will include awards for “Best Poster on Social Cognition in Evolutionary Anthropology”.