W092
Anthropological writing in a time of uncertainty: career, control and creativity

Convenors:
Helena Wulff (Stockholm University)
Judith Okely (Oxford University/University of Hull)
Discussant:
Virginia Dominguez
Stream:
Workshops
Location:
C1
Start time:
11 July, 2012 at 14:30
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

In a time of uncertainty, anthropological careers and working conditions are unstable, as is life itself. Anthropological writing is still key to careers, often conveying ethnography on anxiety. But how do we write about anxiety? Is there a need for new textual formats for conveying disquietude?

Long abstract:

Anthropological writing is key to the shaping of the intellectual content of the discipline, as well as to contemporary careers and institutional profiles. With university reforms, neoliberal values and many anthropology departments merging with larger schools, anthropologists find themselves in a time of new uncertainties. This entails that the conditions for anthropological writing are undergoing major transformations. To what extent is the quality of academic writing tailored to research assessments, and evaluation formats such as ranking lists - and what are the intellectual consequences of this? A significant development is the growth of new media forms and genres connected to the Internet. Blogs and open access have their part in the shaping of anthropological writing, raising questions about how technology influence writing skills, collaboration and communication. This time of uncertainty might not only make the anthropological writer┬┤s career and working conditions unstable, but also life in general as social and economic foundations keep changing. Importantly, this applies to much recent ethnography which tends to reveal different forms of anxiety. This circumstance leads over to the issue of how to write about uncertainty in anthropological text. There is the role of ethics, and the drive in the discipline to popularize, and make its reporting reach a wider public. Is there a need for new formats for conveying disquietude? Are there ethnographic aspects we save for fiction? And what remains steadfast in the midst of upheaval? This workshop invites papers discussing anthropological writing practice and conditions in a time of new uncertainties.