P018
What to do with 'old' anthropology? Zeitgeist, knowledge and time

Convenors:
Edward Simpson (SOAS)
Peter Berger (Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen)
Stream:
Panels
Location:
S-238
Start time:
1 August, 2014 at 9:00
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

Are the works of previous generations of anthropologists simply redundant? Contextual footnotes? Disciplinary history? If not, then what sorts of collaborative relationships can we have with 'old' anthropology?

Long abstract:

This panel will ask how we should conceptualise and dwell amidst the anthropology of our ancestors. How can we collaborate with previous generations of anthropologists - living or dead - and relate to the work they produced? Anthropology has matured as a discipline to have written histories, ancestors and identifiable phases of particular theoretical fashion. But what kind of knowledge is the 'old' anthropology of the twentieth century? What should we do with it? How are we to understand and relate to it? Within the discipline, some scholars stress a paradigm of innovation, newness and excitement, believing that the discipline should endlessly regenerate itself. Others rather stress continuity and the seemingly inescapable heritage of colonial forms of knowledge production and practices. Either way, the 'old' anthropology of the twentieth century has become little more than footnotes and a set of background references to things that happened before the present. Is that all it can be? We invite papers on any intimate collaboration between contemporary researchers and 'old' anthropology. Themes may include 'restudying' the same locations, revisiting ideas and theories, using old field notes or diaries, as well as more general conceptualisations of the production of knowledge across time.