Why roots?

David Berliner (Universite Libre de Bruxelles)
Ramon SarrĂ³ (University of Oxford)
Start time:
25 August, 2010 at 11:30
Session slots:


The notion of "roots" is everywhere today, whether it is in debates about the so-called Christian roots of Europe, immigration policies and genetic roots in France, African roots in the US or in the widespread craze over genealogies. In fact, whilst anthropologists have recently turned their attention to mobility and deterritorialisation, most of our interlocutors in the field do insist on the necessity to be anchored in the world perceived as globalizing and "uprooting". Discourses about roots are part of a rhetoric that many of us share where questions of origin, continuity, culture - or loss thereof, identity, authenticity and normality are interwoven. In this panel, we intend to explore how this "need for roots" configures itself in different social and cultural environments and how it deploys specific narratives of identity, globalisation, origin and loss. In particular, we invite contributors to consider questions like the following: How do individuals, groups and institutions imagine, claim and struggle over roots? How do they remember, reinvent or celebrate a certain past, whether it is real or imagined, in the name of roots? What is the role of nation-states, religious groups, international organisations and social movements in the proliferation of such rhetoric?