EASA, 2006: EASA06: Europe and the world
Bristol, UK, 18/09/2006 – 21/09/2006
World Anthropologies Network: transforming the terms of the conversation
Location Victoria Recital
Date and Start Time 19 Sep, 2006 at 11:30
This workshop, at the initiative of scholars from several countries working on the project of World Anthropologies Network (WAN), is intended as a conversation about the encounters taking place between anthropological knowledges from multiple geographies and locations.
This workshop, at the initiative of scholars from several countries working on the project of World Anthropologies Network (WAN), is intended as a conversation about the encounters taking place between anthropological knowledges from multiple geographies and locations. Conceived as a strategic node of the wider efforts of this network, we hope that this event will constitute a dialogic space for discussing 'anthropology' in its relation to a multiplicity of world-making processes and events. The workshop invites potential participants to contribute to the development of a plural landscape of world anthropologies that is both less shaped by metropolitan hegemonies and more open to the heteroglossic potential of unfolding globalisation processes. In this workshop we will focus on how the current struggles and transformations shaping universities and other sites of knowledge production worldwide are challenging the practices of anthropologists as well as their methodological and theoretical preoccupations. Relevant questions here are: What does it mean for practitioners from former colonies to do anthropology in northern/metropolitan institutions? How does the particular history of the subject in one's country shape the way anthropology is practised? In addition, we will interrogate the geopolitics of knowledge underlying relations between multiple anthropological traditions, the micropractices of the anthropological enterprise and the praxis of the discipline in the wider set of global processes that shape the everyday activity of social life. Lastly, we propose to discuss the understanding of the trajectories through which anthropology will be developing in the years and decades to come.
Anthropologies of difference
The issues that I will raise in my presentation will be about a change of direction in classical anthropological travel and fieldwork. These are issues about research conducted from erstwhile 'other cultures' (India), by the classical 'others' ('Indian' Anthropologists) in locations hitherto reserved for scholars from the West or the centers. They are anthropological journeys that invoke a criticality of 'place' and 'location' in the production of anthropological knowledge, not only in terms of the location of research agendas and their field -sites, but also their agents of production. I address these issues here from the vantage point of my fieldwork conducted from the Department of Sociology, University of Delhi in a location outside India - Beirut. The focus remains on the story of visiting another culture, a visit that traverses a discursive path somewhat separate from the usual anthropological trajectories that fieldwork in my context could have implied.
How does fieldwork initiated from India but conducted 'abroad', engage with the contemporary discourses on anthropological theory and practice? Conducting fieldwork in Beirut from Delhi could signal an intervention that mediates in a variety of classificatory schemes of anthropologists and anthropological fieldwork viz., Western/Eastern; dominant/subaltern; center/periphery; North/South. For most, these relationships are necessary corollaries to the intricate affinity between socio-cultural anthropology and colonialism/imperialism. However, there is enough reason to consider these binarisms reductive at best and misleadingly Manichean, at worst. Accordingly, the positioning that I would like to accord to my field experience in Beirut from India, I reckon, is not best referenced to the limiting world of binarisms but rather in the discursive and practical sphere that Arturo Escobar and Eduardo Restrepo develop around the concepts of 'dominant anthropologies' and 'other anthropologies/anthropology otherwise'.
My articulation is thus enunciated first, from a 'plural' fractured space (although, it is not about a repetition of 'nativist' indigenous anthropology) in a global anthropological cartography and second, it is about formulating certain practices that can indeed contribute to the making of world anthropologies. Through a description of my fieldwork experience, I suggest new dialogic spaces/anthropological assemblages, which can potentially move beyond the limits of the colonial - postcolonial impasse and bring together unexpected sites into productive networks of dialogue and exchange. I propose a 'tacking' between and amongst locations in the south, so as to see what epistemological, empirical and theoretical implications lie buried in potential relationships that have hitherto remained unexplored.
Where WAN goes? The World Anthropologies Network and its future
The World Anthropologies Network project has several years of life already. It has brought together into a fruitful conversation a small (although active and increasing) number of worldwide anthropologists. In this paper I whish to make a balance of our collaborative encounter. I will attempt to address the following issues:
1) The dynamics of the communicative practice: its technicalities, its growth patterns, the limits encountered and the emerging possibilities. 2) Heteroglossia and politics in the situated practices of anthropology. 3) Anthropological imagination, plural epistemologies and communication.
After exploring these questions I want to raise a final one: Where is the present dynamics of our practice of a World Anthropologies Network leading us in the foreseeable future and how could we contrive to its growth?
Identity, power, human rights and development: an ontological discussion
This paper reviews some of the major anthropological approaches to and conceptualisations of human rights and development in order to explore how 'western' scholars articulate ontological notions of rights and development with regards to power relations and processes of identity-construction. The basic assumption is that ontological ideas on these matters are ontological only to the extent they are lived and used as such, and thus can be taken up for discussion. I use a narrative approach to these ideas, which I take as products of specific lifeworlds where differences in value orientations and place-specific practices are reflected. My main argument is that ontological discussions on rights and development with our subjects of study are essential not only to advance anthropological scholarship, but also to decolonise knowledge on these phenomena.
De-colonising ethnographic knowledge and practice: a dialogic encounter between the Latin American Modernity/Coloniality/Decoloniality Research Program and actor network theory
This paper takes various analyses of modernity as a point of departure in order to explore what could be called "decolonizing ethnographies of social movements' decolonizing practices." To this end, the paper seeks to establish a conversation between two novel frameworks for the critical analysis of modernity: actor-network theory (ANT), and the Latin American Modernity/Coloniality/Decoloniality perspective (MCD). While the first one is well known to anthropology, the latter is still largely unknown in the North American academy, despite the fact that its contributions, as I hope to show, offer a very constructive and useful set of insights for anthropology. My contentions are, first, that both ANT and MCD contribute in specific ways to de-colonial thinking and practice; second, that despite differences and tensions between the two frameworks they are largely complementary and have much to offer each other; and third, that the set of inquiries broached by these frameworks, when mutually reconfigured as ANT/MCD, offer a set of enabling, concrete, and perhaps unique contributions to thinking about modernity, ethnography, and the relation between academic knowledge and political practice. The paper is also written in the context of the growing field of the anthropology of social movements, although this will remain largely in the background and will not be discussed as such in the paper. Finally, this inquiry also attempts to envision, in a very preliminary way, the ways in which ANT/MCD could be used to frame the ethnography of encounters between movements in Latin America and the Arab World; this will be done in two particular locations where this encounter seems to be taking place: Chiapas in Mexico, and the Triple Frontier region in South America.
Academic-intellectuals, world anthropologies and the insurrectional social movements/subjugated knowledges in Latin America
In this paper I want to explore how the knowledge practices of some academic-intellectuals are shifting in such a way as to signal a radical departure from the 'traditional' role that academic-intellectuals have had in Latin America. This re-direction is part and parcel of a much larger process, namely, the gradual rejection of the modern project by increasingly larger sectors of the Latin American population and their ongoing efforts to bring about 'worlds and knowledges otherwise.' In effect, some of the social movements that have become highly visible in Latin America at the turn of the 21st century are probing the modern project - including established knowledge practices of academic-intellectuals - according to expectations, logics and standards other than the ones that have dominated at least for the last two centuries. Particularly, I want to suggest how these avenues already opened by social movements, local intellectuals and other sites of knowledge production regarding the intellectual-political project in Latin America, have productively contaminated the project of the World Anthropologies Network (WAN). By focusing on three particular cases where this contamination is currently taking place, I want to make claims on the possible directions in which a reconfiguration of the dominant regime of power/knowledge might proceed. These developments include the relative equalization of diverse knowledge practices through the proliferation of sites of encounter between them but also a certain disposition by the collective of the World Anthropology Network (WAN) to allow for the contamination of academic-intellectuals' knowledge practices by the insurrectional movements' non-modern knowledge practices.
Ethnos theory in Soviet ethnography, Russian anthropology
Russian ethnography had been formed by the end of the 19th century. Further development of this field of knowledge in our country proved to be connected with Ethnos theory. The idea of ethnos meant to study some "peoples", which were considered as definite community of people with their cultural, social, physical (somatic) and other peculiarities. At the same time other conceptions including ones focused on Marxism, American cultural anthropology and others were being formed in Russian ethnography and then in ethnology. In the late 20s when the science was reorganized, that guaranteed its further inclusion in being formed totalitarian system, the theory of stadializm of N.Y. Mar which had something in common with Marxism and Stalin theory of nation were approved. Since that time the isolationistic period of the soviet ethnography developing ignored the world anthropologic tradition had begun. The interest in the ideas of foreign specialists was allowed now only under the condition of being necessarily criticized from the official position of Marxism. In the context of having been accepted Marxist ideology, which determined the theoretical basis of scientific research, there was no place for national (ethnic) differences and significance of cultural diversity to be acknowledged. The concepts of proletarian class solidarity and economic determinism were confirmed here by way of priority. However the necessity of the political course realization under the term of politethnical state made Stalin advance a slogan to form new cultures which was to be national in form and social (class) in context.
The changes of the world and country situation which had taken place after World War II showed the mistaken in the previous authority's attitude to the national factor. As a result the destruction of universalistic theory of stadializm followed, that made the conditions for the theory of ethnos to be returned in the ethnography. The works of P.I. Kushner, S.A. Tokarev, N.N. Cheboksarov, and then Y.V. Bromley and L.N. Gumelev allowed forming the basic directions and variants of the theory of ethnos. Primo dualistic aims and essentialistic sense of ethnos characterized the soviet theory for all the different conceptions of Bromley and Gumilev. The cultural peculiarities and their representatives' self-consciousness were considered to be the important features of some ethnos. The cultural problematic was being developed during that period mainly in the context of researching the philosophic aspects of this phenomenon and studying the different aspects of traditional culture.
During the post soviet period, when the official ideology was canceled and the normal relationships with foreign colleagues were allowed, important changes in transformed Russian ethnology took place. The version of the theory of ethnos by L.N. Gumilev became more accepted, and they started to study the first conception of S.M.Shirokogorov, which greatly influenced other authors' opinions. The new discipline culturology aimed at cultural problems studying appeared in Russia. The tendency to deviate from the communist heritage pressure led to the broad attracting the ideas of foreign anthropology, including the conception of ethnicity. At the same time the problems of ethnos were being developed and the emphasis on cultural aspects of this problem were placed.
Having appreciated Russian ethnological (anthropological) scientific tradition and the importance of the theory of ethnos in it, it is significant to note that there is the research potential in it, firstly in its first version of S.M. Shirokogorov, including research culture (culture as psycho mental complex), which keeps its importance.
Transnational English tyranny: the predicament of transversal anthropology
Talal Asad's 1973 Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter ushered in the crisis in ethnographic representation and the subsequent one-way decolonialization of Anthropology. It was an English-only privilege, however, allowing counter-hegemonic scholars of culture situated in the US-Eurocenter to blur the boundaries between research and activism. The non-English speaking world knows that on its national level of academic knowledge, upper-class cosmopolitanism, Humanities and Social Science FTEs, and proper English go hand in hand. Though difficult for counter-hegemonic US-European academe, it would be valuable to study cultural zones of subaltern struggles on their own *theoretical* terms, outside the English-speaking teaching machine. Such textualized theories of lived experiences refuse the dominant process of mainstream translation and publication routinely forced on lived experiences by non-English national elites, anthropologists included.
The possibility for a decentralized, multivocal global anthropology of Palestine/Israel depends on "breaking down barriers to the exchange of knowledge" [Reuter, AN Oct 05], including participation by NGOs and individuals who promote cultural rights yet are quite disjointed from the national-transnational scene of academe. The paper will furnish examples for such knowledges and the manners in which they are performed in Hebrew. Such NGOs and individuals produce both migrant and indigenous self-studies, "less likely to be known," and rarely "cited by scholars whose work travels more widely." Rather, they were and still are excluded from institutional academe [Gledhill AN Oct 05]. Yet for such knowledge exchanges to occur, the transversal English availability of such unmediated texts that resist the practices and theories of the US-Eurocenter (whether hegemonic or counter-hegemonic) ought to be put at the crux of scholarly and activist cooperation. Translated to and from English, the theories and practices in these anti-oppression texts could then facilitate a horizontal global dialogue to equalize our scholarship.