W107
From structure to conjucture: social networks and rhizomatic connnections

Convenors:
Johan Lindquist (Stockholm University)
Maple Razsa (Colby College)
Chair:
Johan Lindquist
Discussant:
Don Handelman
Stream:
Workshops
Location:
0.3
Start time:
29 August, 2008 at 9:00
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

This panel asks how we should attend to the rhizomatic connections that most of us encounter in our field research, connections that always seems conjunctural and lacking in closure. What might an anthropology look like that is more concerned with temporary connections than stable social networks?

Long abstract:

From the discipline's beginnings, anthropology has utilized a series of arborescent metaphors, the family tree of kinship being the most obvious example, stressing filiation rather than alliance, thus replicating ethnic ideologies rather than paying attention to strategic and temporary partnering. Given this form of critique, this panel asks how we, as anthropologists, should attend to the quality of the rhizomatic connections that most of us encounter in our field research, connections that always seems conjunctural and lacking in closure. What might an anthropology look like that is more concerned with temporary connections than stable social networks? Although we take Deleuze and Guattari as a point of reference, this panel has emerged, not primarily from a concern with theory, but rather through the ethnograpic research of the organizers, who have faced similar problems in very different fields—radical activism in Europe and labor recruitment in Asia—when trying to make sense of their work. In both cases we have been struck by the temporary, contingent, and seemingly endless chain of relationships that our informants are engaged in. This panel invites participants who are concerned with similar perspectives. Beyond our concern with activism and labor recruitment, other cases studies might concern the recent explosion of interest surrounding social networking technologies, the latest of which is Facebook. It should be noted, however, that we are not necessarily looking for participants who are studying phenomena that are "new," but rather that the potential for taking contingency seriously is an issue we all face.