EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010


The anthropology of international organizations

Location Education Theatre
Date and Start Time 26 Aug, 2010 at 11:30


Jens Adam (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin) email
Michael Lidauer (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt) email
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Long Abstract

Peace-keeping missions, humanitarian interventions, and internationally mediated conflict resolution are components of a growing global field that connects different localities, systems of knowledge, professional practices, and social groups. As engineers of such interventions, international organizations contribute to the development of new organizational cultures, to the production and flow of normative orders, as well as to the emergence of transnational actors' constellations. This workshop aims to explore the anthropological significance of such international organizations on the following three levels:

• the transnational flow and moving of categories, concepts, values and metaphors in the context of such interventions;

• the emergence of specific organizational practices and institutional cultures inside and surrounding international organizations, explored with the methods of an 'anthropology of organizations';

• the formation of fields of interaction, sites of encounter, and spaces of contest between the representatives of international organizations and ‚local' actors in the concrete geographical areas of such political interventions.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.


Nostalgias of peace and development: global actors in the heritage valorization of modern architecture in Asmara, Eritrea

Author: Christoph Rausch (Maastricht University)  email
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Long Abstract

After decades of civil war in Ethiopia, in 1993 Eritrea declared its independence and became the youngest nation state in Africa. The Eritrean capital city of Asmara had experienced neither damage, nor any notable urban development. Its historic perimeter built by the former Italian colonizers under Mussolini survives as an ensemble of early modern architecture and as such was recently added to the tentative UNESCO World Heritage list.

Today, Eritrea sustains a border conflict with Ethiopia and its government pursues a radical policy of self-reliance. Global actors such as the Worldbank, the EC delegation, UNESCO, as well as foreign governments consider engagement with cultural heritage as an effective intervention in peace and development. Drawing on multi-sited ethnographic research of intergovernmental and governmental actors in the heritage valorization of modern architecture in Asmara, this paper critically analyzes the introduction of the concept of cultural heritage as a tool in conflict resolution and development.

'UNESCO is a special animal': questions of agency in a multilateral institution

Author: Christoph Brumann (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle)  email
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Long Abstract

My ongoing multi-sited fieldwork on the World Heritage system and other UNESCO heritage conventions has called one assumption in particular into question, namely that "UNESCO" does or says this thing or the other, contrary to much anthropological writing where it is unproblematically assumed to do or say things. I will contrast the perceptible policy shifts in the World Heritage convention - UNESCO's single most visible activity - with the often unpredictable, haphazard, and only mildly consistent individual decisions the World Heritage Committee and its auxiliary institutions take. I will then try to explain this contrast with the complex architecture of the World Heritage system and the unwritten rules UNESCO works by, showing that a number of features chosen rather innocuously and early on have unanticipated effects that now, in a situation where World Heritage has outgrown even the most opimistic expectations, prove almost irreversible.

UNESCO and the daily life of cultural heritage: the case of Fez (Morocco)

Author: Manon Istasse (Université Jean Monnet (Saint-Etienne))  email
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Long Abstract

In a age of multiple crises, one aim of the UNESCO is to promote intercultural dialogue between civilizations. Heritage constitutes one tool : once a piece of heritage is listed as World Heritage, it belongs to the whole humanity. But beyond its universality, what is the everyday life of this heritage?

In my current research, I am interested in the way actors daily use cultural heritage in a Unesco listed city. Having my fieldwork in Fez, Morocco, I investigate guest houses and homestay in Moroccan families. Indeed, these houses are places of cultural encounter and dialogue (between tourists, Moroccans, residents,...) and local crises over the applications and consequences of World Heritage politics. Each case is concerned with questions about the private (intimate) and public (universal) aspects of heritage, the relation to space, the significance of the UNESCO for the actors, and the use of the label.

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Transnational cultural interventions in areas of conflict

Author: Jens Adam (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin)  email
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Long Abstract

Since the 1990s the discussions inside international organisations about the possibilities of ‚conflict prevention' have become significantly more important. As part of these negotiations the potentials of international cultural interventions in areas of conflict were reviewed.

The metaphors and categories produced in these international discussions had a bearing on state policies as well as on NGOs engaged in the field of cultural cooperation. Concerning the foreign cultural policy of Germany 'conflict prevention' was added to the rather classical aims such as 'promotion of German language'.

My paper focuses on the consequences of this discursive expansion on the making of foreign cultural policy. It discusses how this new object is translated through a translocal network into action in areas of conflict. Using empirical material from fieldwork in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Palestine I would like to show how transnational cultural interventions gain their specifity in the combination of global, national, and local narratives.

How do international organisations socialise their members? Anthropology, the EU and the Europeanisation of European elites

Author: Cris Shore (University of Auckland)  email
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Long Abstract

European integration is as much a project of identity-construction and social engineering as it is a process geared to legal, economic and institutional regulation and harmonization. Yet while much attention has been paid to the Europeanization of the nation-state and national policy-making, less attention has been paid to dynamics of enculturation that operate inside the EUs own bureaucratic apparatus. How does an international organization like the European Commission (which is also a supranational institution) socialize those who work within its administrative? What kinds of new social fields, institutional cultures and organizational practices are developing within the Commissions internal administrative regime? This paper aims to examine these questions in three stages. First, I review current debates on EU socialization. Second, I draw on ethnographic accounts of the European Commissions organisational culture and everyday practices. Third, I set out an alternative theoretical framework for analysing these processes, one that draws on concepts of habitus, enculturation and subjectification.

The 'Big Bang' at the EU-Commission: stakes in the struggles in everyday life of civil servants in Brussels after the 'enlargement' 2004 and 2007

Author: Pawel Lewicki (Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder))  email
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Long Abstract

The Enlargement of the EU has brought along substantial institutional, social and cultural changes within the European Commission. Giving a historical background of the development of the EU Commission and drawing on examples from my field, I will show on one hand the prevailing "European" ideology and the transnational character of this institution. On the other hand I will show the relevant symbolical resources employed by the Commission's civil servants' in the struggle over what is defined as "European" and "national". These struggles, as I will show, demand from Polish nationals' flexible agency and the ability to constant negotiation and re-production of "eastern" and "western" identities within the frames set out by the "European" ideology. The main capitals in the struggle over the "national" and the "European" are: the ability to define ("national") interests in "European" context, the ability to draw back on social networks, social distinction and "tacit knowledge".

The EU in the field: dynamics of election observation

Author: Michael Lidauer (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt)  email
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Long Abstract

Election Observation was developed as a strong and highly visible tool of political third party intervention in the context of democratisation efforts and post-conflict peacebuilding since the nineties. The European Union became one of the biggest international agencies in this arena with a unified methodology established in 2000 and the European Union Election Observation Missions (EU EOMs) since then. Employed as independent institutions with a specific design and a clear task, such missions, their findings and subsequent political statements evoke reactions and discussions on international commitments to democracy not only in the host countries, but also within the European community itself. Referring to transnational standards and good electoral practices, this paper will examine the emergence, the tool and social dynamics of EU election observation in the framework of international relations and will exemplify this mechanism based on experiences with the EU EOM to Sudan 2010 and other missions.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.