This panel considers the future of regional specialisation in the light of the current situation in the academic job market. How can we reflect on the increasingly globalised world we study, sustain the rigour of extend fieldwork, while dealing with the neoliberal regimes governing academia?
This panel considers the future of regional specialisation and bounded fieldsites in anthropology in the light of the current state of affairs in the academic job market. The question of what happens to anthropological locations which are becoming flux and increasingly difficult to define becomes central to current debates. The answers are often equivocal: some researchers continue to insist on area studies, and regional specialisations, while others define their field in terms of abstract and mobile concepts permeating different locations. Alongside these developments, we are challenged with neoliberal regimes in academic institutions: higher education funding cuts, an emphasis on "accountability" and "applicability" of the knowledge we produce, as well as increasingly precarious academic job conditions whereby anthropologists find themselves moving frequently between institutions and taking up career opportunities in locations they might not have anticipated. This involves adapting to new fieldistes and new fields of study, often beyond academic circles. What all these developments and answers to them bear is enforced "mobility" and "flexibility" either because of institutional arrangements or because of our field, making the rigour of thick description and dense ethnography difficult to implement. In this panel we would like to explore the twofold challenges facing our discipline and our twofold positionalities: as researchers and as employees. How do we cope both with employment instability and with field complexity? The panel would be particularly interested in the narratives of anthropologists who have broken with the tradition of specialisation in one particular region and how they manage this.