W017
Problems of continuity and change

Convenors:
Vered Amit (Concordia University)
Karen Fog Olwig (University of Copenhagen)
Stream:
Workshops
Location:
Wills G32
Start time:
19 September, 2006 at 16:30
Session slots:
4

Short abstract:

This panel will seek to examine the problems and contradictions of experiences, concepts and ideals of continuity and change.

Long abstract:

Anthropologists have, historically, experienced considerable difficulty in accounting conceptually and processually for both continuity and change. In an earlier period of the disciplines, development anthropologists treated continuity as the reasonable normal and change as extraordinary and problematic. In more recent years, anthropologists seeking to explain transnational and global processes have embraced notions of transience, mobility, immanence and fluidity and accordingly change has been embraced as the new normal. But neither approach successfully reconciles competing scholarly or populist desires for, and experiences of, change and continuity. Thus, even people experiencing dramatic change, whether forced or voluntary, may still work hard to fashion meaningful elements of continuity through ideas of tradition, heritage, community or family history. Continuity may be developed post hoc through people's narratives of their lives or through ongoing efforts at maintaining the continuity of certain key relationships such as family networks. Or people may rely on particular protocols, organisational structures, roles or other mechanisms to mediate even substantial turnover in personal relationships. At the same time, palpable desires for change are regularly stymied by the enforcement of categorical, territorial, jurisdictional or informal boundaries. Accordingly, even as contemporary anthropologists have appropriated change as their new calling card, they have paradoxically also reiterated the continuing validity of ethnic, national or diasporic categories now asserted as stretching across time and space. This panel will therefore invite papers that seek to examine the problems and contradictions of experiences, concepts and ideals of continuity and change.