Movement - as diverse knowledges, practices and problematizations - has once again become a focal point of public discussion and scholarly intervention. As such, 'ancient' ontologies that focused more on movement than on stasis and of which sight has been lost through the colonial encounter, are now reappearing as particularly meaningful, and transformative of the discipline. A longstanding concern of anthropologists, movement has most prominently been discussed through the rubric of mobility, and its attendant terminologies of flows and scapes, flexibilities and foreclosures, disjunctures and “frictions.” The notion of movement resonates in studies of political, ecological, religious and economic life as well as of kinship, gender and embodiment. In so doing it highlights the promiscuous nature of the analytical space opened by the processes of life forms, things and ideas enmeshing through relationships in space and time.
Movement as renewal, growth and paths along which life can keep on going implies the potentialities of falling down, destruction or dying, which are also paths of becoming, sometimes as something else. Movement’s naturalized associations with the possibilities of agency and freedom configurations alert us to how mobility, as a technique and discourse of power, may disrupt, uproot or dislocate. In the era of massive displacements caused by war, climate change, trafficking and economic desperation, we are called upon to make sense of movement through its gaps, dams, borders, and camps. Such a sense of breakdown does not merely characterize space—it also affects perceptions of time. Amidst rising uncertainties and disappearances of experienced living possibilities, we must make sense of contexts marked by blockage and impasse. On the other hand, emphasis on movement also points to the ways in which human lifeworlds and affective ecologies, as well as their pasts and futures, are continually imagined and remade in labile relation to an ever shifting, sometimes inchoate sense of the present. In that sense, our Conference/Inter-Congress theme highlights the process of becoming, inviting us to attend to the historicity of practices, thus remaining open to older (‘ancient’) as well as novel ontologies. Attention to movement opens anthropology up to alternative and new arrays of life forms, including things like rivers, electricities, and chemical waste. It also enables us to address imperatives to decolonize our discipline; and it implores us to explore the emergent life-making processes that become open to common improvisation, composition and hopeful futures.
We thus welcome papers on all topics, but especially along the following lines:
- Worlds in motion; In what ways are worlds made or unmade through movement? Alternatively, can new or remediated worlds arise out of obstructions such as enlightenment thinking and colonial imperatives and out of the knowledge and perception gaps that have arisen in their wake? What happens through lively cohabitations of organisms and things, undergoing continuous (trans)formation? How are existing dominant and emergent and re-emergent but ancient forms of knowledge brought to bear on world-making projects, their imaginaries and infrastructures? How might we think new, pluralizing spaces for dialogue and exchange between historically constituted traditions and communities of difference?
- Living landscapes; What analytical possibilities open up once we begin to see landscapes, not as static but as assemblages in motion? How are we imbued with various forms of life, whether it be thinking with water, transforming through the vegetal, animal or microbial and how do we traverse these natures/cultures poetically? In other words, how do these living emplacements become part of us, just as we are part of them? How has this escaped science and how is it shyly weaving itself back into it in new ways?
- Moving bodies; How might bodily forms of life be understood as permeable rather then closed upon themselves as objects or species to know, protect or defend, and how have those been understood from a non-enlightenment perspective? Moving beyond the physical body itself, how are we to conceptualize its location in novel and mobile lines of practice, experience, experiment, technology and everyday lives? In such lively bodily entanglements involving materialities, how do some movements promise increased vitalities and enhancement, while other movements promise elimination or slowing down?
- Relational movements; How can moving relationships be brought to the center of anthropological enquiries and analysis? What things, values and meanings need to move between those in relationship with each other, both to sustain and to shift the forms of those enmeshments and the labels by which they are described? In what respects and how might relationships themselves be moving – of affect, values and things? In what ways is mobility itself rendered into a political-economic problem and a site of intervention? Who gets to move and how? In what ways do the exigencies of the present also demand a shift in our own conceptual languages? Can political, economical, religious, ecological, indigenous movements be understood as directive yet unpredictable, underground and at the same time public, both liberating and dangerous, real and virtual?
We welcome all proposals in anthropology, even those not directly related to the above Conference/InterCongress sub-themes.