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The Anthropology of the Non-Human

Organizer:
Corinna Kruse, Linköping University

Can we study the non-human anthropologically? If so, how? And how does the non-human become part of society? In this panel, we want to talk about what makes a study anthropological and how anthropology can contribute to studying the non-human such as technologies, ideas, knowledge. Contributions in English and Swedish are equally welcome.

Abstracts

The Anthropology of the Non-Human: Knowledge
Corinna Kruse
Linköping University
How can we study something as non-human as knowledge? And how is studying knowledge different from studying culture? Both are quite abstract but still impact people’s lives tangibly. This paper explores following knowledge through different contexts (or cultures). I will use forensic evidence as an example with with to think about what happens when knowledge moves away from the people and the context that created it and enters a new context or culture. How can we think anthropologically about following ideas and facts?

 

3D-printed immaterialities: humaning as a more-than-human project

Chakad Ojani Stockholm University

Questions on how to study the non-human and how it is made social are widely debated issues today. Underpinning many such discussions, however, is an idea of the non-human as standing outside a bounded society, awaiting inclusion by humans. In this paper I problematize this view by drawing from my fieldwork on 3D-printing practices. The problem, I shall argue, is that what we are struggling to include into our accounts has always refused exclusion by precisely this urge to label it the nonhuman.Unlike us, this Other of ours has refused reductionist categories all along. The so-called non-human has always been more than human.

Given its presumed ability to do away with material recalcitrance, 3D-printing is conceived of as unifying the digital and the physical in ways previously impossible. As a practice of materializing ideas and digital codes 3D-printing enacts the primacy of the immaterial, thus denying the material. Paradoxically, this negation is made possible by the very materials that are being negated. Attending to conflictive yet coexisting practical ontologies, I bring into attention how these enable rather than disable one another.

Hence, instead of attempting to find out how we renegotiate the inhabitants of the territory through inclusion, this paper proposes that we inquire into the ways in which it escapes our attempts at modification. Joining that movement of flight, we too may use what is already present in the territory to betray human exceptionalism. In this way, we may not so much assimilate the Other by further humanings, but allow ourselves to join it and become more than human. Instead of adopting difference as point of departure, I propose that we conceive of it an end product.

 

Multi-sited ethnography of medical technologies and young patients’ experiences: the case of orthodontics and the delegation to fixed appliances

Anette Wickström Linköping University

Improving the smile has been of interest for centuries. Since the 18th century, fixed or removable appliances have been used to move teeth to better positions based on aspects of function and appearances. Today in Sweden, the most common reasons for orthodontic treatment concern general dentists’, parents’ or children’s dissatisfaction with the esthetics of the bite. In an examination of children and young people receiving state-financed treatment, I have focused on materiality and practitioners without losing sight of the patients’ experiences or putting the patients’ bodies in the background. Inspired by multi-sited ethnography and actor-network theory, I have traced through the materials, practices and social processes implicated in the improvement of young patients’ bites. Restricting my presence to the clinic, I let the young patients trace the work delegated to the appliances by keeping video diaries at home. The combination of methods revealed complex processes and experiences. The delegated work was controlled by the orthodontists by motivating the patients to govern themselves. Through a step-by-step process, in which the appliances as well as the overall treatment were gradually tightened, the young patients managed to invest considerable work in getting a better-looking smile. While the bodily territorialization due to shame and worry declined, the young patients’ bodies were re-territorialized by pain, sores, and cleaning and eating restrictions. The recurrent upgrading of the appliances created a cyclic process of pain. After the active treatment period the work was extended because retainers were needed, sometimes lifelong, to minimize the relapse. The analysis of materiality did not replace the analysis of meaning, but enriched the interpretation through including more aspects and more complexity.

 

Studying how knowledge is transformed into practice: an upcoming project

Jenny Gleisner Linköping University

Providing society with knowledge entails disseminating knowledge from its producers to its intended users and letting it inform their practices. But how does knowledge become practice? How does knowledge produced in one context become practice in another? And how can knowledge be studied in an anthropological way?

This paper will present an upcoming research project focusing on so seemingly disparate professions as veterinarian pathologists, midwives in parental education, and occupational health services providers. In order to understand how scientific knowledge is transformed into practice, our project focuses on mediators and their role in transforming knowledge into practice.

 

Dehumanizing Therapy: Diagnostic Systems and Manualization in Psychotherapy

Hans TunestadStockholm University

This presentation takes as its starting point the double movement in psychotherapy today towards diagnostic systems and manualization of psychotherapy, altogether constituting a movement towards so called pure expertise – that is, the ongoing change from personified to codified expertise. This double movement means, on the one hand, the reduction of the patient/client to a diagnosis and, on the other, the deprofessionalization of the therapist. Through this, two problematic aspects in psychotherapy today tend to disappear, or are at least diminished – that is, the human components of the patient and the psychotherapist. Diagnostic systems and manualization are here seen as two parts intimately entwined in a self-perpetuating feedback process where different types of manualized psychotherapy are developed in response to certain specific diagnoses, and where new specific diagnoses are made possible by the development of psychotherapy towards manualization. Together the combination of diagnostic systems and manualized psychotherapy into a codified expertise can be seen as the construction of a psychotherapeutic infrastructure. More specifically, this infrastructure appears to constitute – as well as is upheld by – an assemblage, or heterogeneous network, of ideas, practices, technologies, documents, evaluation processes, governmental agencies and other organizations. The presentation raises the question of how to study this infrastructure, and here points to the necessity of handling the parameters problematized by contemporary anthropology – that is, the local, the temporal and the cultural.

 

Not a number but a direction: An ethnography of a tax gap

Lotta Björklund Larsen Linköping University

The tax gap is one way to understand and measure a society’s willingness to pay tax. The OECD encourages its members tax authorities to calculate this gap; Denmark, the Netherlands, the U.K. and the USA do it (OECD 2008, 2014). The national methodologies differ somewhat, but in essense is the tax gap the total amount of tax NOT collected resulting from all forms of non-compliance (OECD 2008, Boll 2011). The tax gap thus consists of results from numerous studies of missing taxes on: VAT, personal and capital income, corporate taxes, etc. A low tax gap number thus represents a more correct and successful tax collection and thus increased trust among the population in tax system.

Hidden, erroneous and undisclosed economic practices are difficult to estimate and are at best ”guesstimates”. This paper adresses the calculation of latest Swedish tax gap measurement as ordered by the government in 2013 (Skatteverket 2014). The previous result was 133 billion whereas the latest results only suggest a decrease. Inspired by the notion of ”calculation grammar” (Ballestero 2015), this paper adresses how guesstimates previously making up the tax gap were (not) given distinct meaning or political valence this time. For what reasons were the latest numbers not seen as valuable enough to make up the tax gap? How were different estimates valued against each other and against previous estimates? Are our trust in numbers (Porter 1995) being replaced by words governing the economy (e.g. Asdal 2011, Holmes 2014)?

 

Anthropology and economics: the “culture-economy nexus” revisited

Organizers:
Cristiano Lanzano, The Nordic Africa Institute
Cecilia Navarra, University of Torino

From the classical debates in economic anthropology, through the engagement with post-war development aid, until recent ethnographic work on neoliberalism and the financial crisis, anthropologists have been influenced by the scholarly debate in economics. Anthropology has been confronted to both radical differences and overlapping with the discipline of economics, in terms of theoretical approaches, methodological tools and objects of inquiry.
In recent times, heterodox economists have taken social and institutional factors of economic behavior more seriously, opening sporadic opportunities of cross-disciplinary dialogue. In the meantime, economics has seen the consolidation of statistical analysis and mathematical modeling as central methods, sometimes applied to the study of typically anthropological questions (from religion and witchcraft to gift and altruism).

The link between economy (defined as behaviors and processes related to the production, consumption and exchange of goods and services) and culture (variously intended as shared beliefs, values and expectations, institutions and social practices enmeshed with the “economy”) resurfaces as a central question. In these times, when processes of precarization and informalization, growing inequalities and struggles around austerity seem to bring the economies of the North and the South nearer to each other, moral and culturalist arguments often dominate the public debate. How do scholars from our disciplines frame the role of institutional or social factors in economic “success stories”, for example? How do they relate to the highly moralized debate on debt and austerity? In which ways can their work shed light on the consequences of the implementation of neoliberal policies? Can a focus on “culture(s)” (and what goes with it) effectively challenge the hegemonic vision of economic rationality?

We invite to a discussion on disciplinary boundaries, experiences of cross-disciplinary work, or conceptual and theoretical challenges faced while researching on the culture-economy nexus. Please keep in mind that all empirical material should be presented in a way that is accessible and suitable to enter into a multi-disciplinary dialogue.

 

Abstracts

Social and moral rationales for business owners’ informal resource redistribution in Uganda

Malin J. NystrandPeace and Development, University of Gothenburg

Redistribution of resources within social groups, in particular within the extended family, is a widespread practice in Uganda (as in many other parts of the world). Debates on capitalist development in Africa, both in neo-liberal and radical versions, have often been formulated within the modernisation paradigm, in which these practices have been seen as ‘traditional’ and primarily as an obstacle to ‘modern’ development. The same practices have also been extensively studied from anthropological perspectives. In this paper this social practice is analysed from the social embeddedness (in Granovetter’s version) and moral economy (in Sayer’s version) perspectives. Both these perspectives highlight the social embeddedness and moral foundation of all economies, thus challenging the modern/traditional dichotomy.

The paper explores the extent of Ugandan business owners’ redistribution of resources within social groups, the social and moral rationales for them engaging in this social practice and their views on whether this practice is compatible with business development. It is based on extensive empirical data gathered in Uganda, including interviews with business owners and a household survey of patterns of resource redistribution.

 

Caring agents – Agents of care? How Slovak job agencies sell care work abroad

Eva-Maria Walther University of Stockholm

As an effect of neoliberal and austerity politics, hiring women from Central Eastern European countries as live-in care workers for aging family members has become a widely established alternative to private care in many Western European countries. An increasingly organized infrastructure enables this kind of circular labor mobility, and the number of market actors matching potential care workers and families is growing. My paper examines the role of transnational job agencies in shaping the concept of the care worker as a sellable product in both sending and receiving countries.

Previous research the migration industry has treated transnational job agencies only in passing, they are often reduced to being predators, knowingly leading their workers into exploitative work arrangements. Little attention has been paid to the processes of mediation and education which enable agencies to turn care into a commodity which crosses national borders. Building upon participant observation in two job agencies implementing care workers into German and Austrian families, I look at their recruitment strategies, training, and contractual relationships. I analyze how certain culturally embedded values and qualities are highlighted throughout the process to foster a particular image of the domestic worker, optimizing both customer satisfaction and agency control. A closer look reveals that economic considerations do not only put forward measures of monitoring towards the care workers, but also of confidence building and emotional support. This is to strengthen commitment to the agency and to respond to customers’ conception of care as a genuine and heartfelt activity rather than a tradable good.

 

“Ha ha ha! I see all my purchases as an investment ….in my well-being”: Social relations and shopping on Facebook

 Hanna Wittrock Lund University

The title of this paper, as well as the quote that follows it, is taken from Facebook, one of the most popular places in cyberspace right now. The Swedish group “Lyxloppis” (Luxury flea market) is one of many buy swap and sell groups on Facebook that specializes in the exchange of designer clothes and luxury items. Lyxloppis has in the two years of its existence managed to attract over 35 000 members and new shopping groups appear incessantly on Facebook. The phenomenon can be incorporated into the larger trend of the so-called collaborative economy. The above quote suggests jokingly that shopping on Facebook is addictive. The relation to the items exchanged is often passionate. The contact between the group members is characterized by an intense text and image flow, consisting of words, pictures and emoji symbols of various kinds. This combination of consumption and confirmation, transaction and social exchange is likely a key reason to why shopping on Facebook has become widely popular.

This paper discusses the emotional and social aspect of buy swap and sells groups on Facebook and is based on an ethnographic pilot study. Anthropology’s skepticism to simplistic explanations of consumer behavior, such as the theory of homo economicus, is beneficial for an understanding of the phenomenon of Facebook flea market, it is argued. Perhaps Malinowski’s interpretation of the Kula-ring as a way to create unity and solidarity in a vast and fragmented archipelago is also applicable to shopping groups on Facebook. The C2C groups on Facebook function as micro communities where trust becomes essential, as it is in most meaningful human relationships.

 

‘Tenderpreneuring’ in the creation of public goods and services in Zambia

Patience Mususa The Nordic Africa Institute

The withdrawal and/ or diminishing of the state and company’s in welfare provision in Zambia since widespread restructuring of the economy in the 1990’s has led to new ways of creating public goods and services. One of these forms is the public tender, that has seen the emergence of what in South Africa is referred to as the ‘tenderpreneur’. The ‘tenderpreneur’ is described a person who has become wealthy by drawing on their state connections to win government contracts by subverting a process aimed a fostering open competition. The paper drawing on media and ethnographic accounts explores the moral narratives that underlie the accumulation of wealth in this way, and the implications that this has for the creation of the public good.

 

Reconsidering the Anthropocene: Exploring Alternative Ontologies

Organizers:
Johan Wedel, University of Gothenburg
Stefan Permanto, University of Gothenburg

The Anthropocene has been described as the moment in history when humans began to dominate the ”natural” world. In this panel, we invite papers that address alternative animistic ontologies that contrast and challenge a Western anthropocentric ontology. By examining such diverse ontological realities in which humans engage and coexist with non-human beings such as plants, animals, souls, and spirits, we take into consideration not only human realities, perspectives and understandings of the world, but also, on equal terms, those of non-human beings. This ontological fact may allow us to develop a new kind of ethical practice that relates to the many political, economic, social and ecological problems that we are facing today.

 

Abstracts

Healing and human-plant interaction among the Miskitu of Nicaragua

Johan WedelUniversity of Gothenburg

This paper discusses the role of plants when healing illness among the Miskitu people of Nicaragua. Among the Miskitu, to live healthy is closely related to sensitively co-exist with nature and the spirits that inhabit the natural world. In this worldview, humans co-exist with other beings through reciprocal relationships. Therefore, when illness strikes, it is often understood as an occurrence of disequilibrium with nature and as disturbed relations with spiritual beings. Many illnesses among the Miskitu, such as grisi siknis or ‘crazy sickness,’ a form of contagious mass-spirit possession, are considered spiritual in origin. When healing these afflictions, plants play an important role as they help humans to communicate with the spirit world through dreams, divination, visions, songs and prayers. In the healing process, plants become powerful beings with their own agency. As plants ‘speak’ through unconscious human beings in a dialogical relationship, they may reveal both the origin of an affliction and its cure, including ways to neutralize sorcery. Accordingly, plants become active and sentient beings in mutually equivalent respectful human-plant-spirit interactions. In this animistic worldview, plants, humans and spirits share a basic ontological reality through a participatory, open and sensitive way of being in the world.

 

Animist ecology: exploring the village-forest cosmos in the Central Annamites

Nikolas Århem Uppsala University & Kaj Århem University of Gothenburg

A key feature of the current standard notion of animism is the attribution of subjectivity and agency to non-human living beings. The social nature of human-animal relations is regarded as diagnostic of animism. In Southeast Asia, however, a corresponding agency is rather ascribed to spirits immanent in the landscape – hills, trees, stones, springs and stream sources. In the Central Annamites, hills, in particular, are conceived of as powerful spirits, and natural forest is seen as indexical for the generic domain of landscape spirits. Drawing on ethnography from the Katu people in Vietnam, the paper explores the cosmological and ecological significance of this perceived spirit landscape and traces some of its wider theoretical and empirical implications.

It is argued that Katu animist cosmology can be understood as an “ecological” model of the complex interconnectedness and communicative relations between humans (village) and spirits (forest), where personalized spirit-hills form significant nodal points in the landscape.In this model, human-spirit relations are mediated by the physical landscape; human-environment relations are effectively human-spirit relations. A complex taboo-system associated with the spirit-hills regulates human land-use. The village-forest cosmos emerges as a self-regulating “ecosystem” where spirit-hills function as “governors” maintaining the system in a dynamic equilibrium.

We take this moral-ecological dimension, evident in Katu cosmology but underplayed in current ontological accounts of animism, to be constitutive of animist cosmologies more generally. The paper also raises the perennial question about the relationship between animist knowledge and empirical-rational knowledge, evoking the works of Bateson, Rappaport and Lévi-Strauss and their intellectual heirs.

 

“The state gave me this power”: the influence of non-human beings on court sentencing in Maputo, Mozambique

Fabio Provenzano University of Copenhagen, Centre of African Studies

Since the early 1990s, Mozambique has been experimenting with a transition from a socialist to a capitalist system. This has involved various political reforms affecting, among other spheres, its juridical system. Such changes have included opening up the space for many indigenous organisations to re-emerge, strengthening the role of traditional leaders and local institutions in settling disputes in both rural and urban areas. Among the most popular of these institutions is the ‘community court’, a hybrid institution combining both the European colonial and Mozambican traditional legal orders, used for solving cases from witchcraft accusations to land disputes. These courts number around 40 units in Maputo alone, the Mozambican capital.

This paper investigates the ways in which non-human beings influence negotiations during ‘community court’ sessions. It explores how the presence of spirits of the newly deceased, ancestral spirits and so-called ‘spiritual husbands’ affect actors’ strategies of truth-telling. Taking account of this complex configuration, the paper explores how actors understand the state as an active entity capable of endowing power against the actions of not only humans but also non-human beings. The paper is part of ongoing research on city inhabitants’ perceptions of ‘community judges’. It draws on fieldwork conducted in Maputo from August 2015 to April 2016, including interviews and six months of participant observation inside two community courts in the outskirts of the city.

 

The political ontology of climate change

Anders BurmanHuman Ecology Division, Lund University.
While a more general “ontological turn” in anthropology aims at taking radically different ontologies seriously, there is currently also a growing interest in the asymmetries of power that are inherent in inter-ontological relations. This paper is written as a contribution to this debate on “political ontology” and discusses climate justice in relation to cognitive justice in the context of Andean indigenous mobilizations and an emergent Bolivian climate justice movement. Nevertheless, discussing climate change in relation to multiple ontologies, implies two risks: 1) the risk of reproducing what I call “the coloniality of reality”, arguing that indigenous ontologies are nothing but cultural (mis-)representations of the world while hegemonic scientifically grounded explanations are the only true accounts of the only real reality there is; 2) the risk of reproducing a conservative relativism that obstructs the theorization of power and that therefore might be instrumental to the conservation of fossil-fueled capitalism and that may even bear a resemblance to climate change denial. How do we take radically different understandings of climate change seriously without unintentionally articulating an argument that might relativize any claim for climate justice? In other words, how can the political ontology of climate change be discussed without ignoring its political ecology and vice versa?

In this paper I argue that a thorough ethnographic understanding of what I term “the moral meteorology” of the Andes and a broadened, less reductionist, understanding of climate change make it possible to navigate between the Scylla of coloniality and the Charybdis of unchecked relativism.

 

Ontological Discrepancies: Alternative notions of Deforestation and Climate Change

Stefan PermantoUniversity of Gothenburg

The Q’eqchi’ Maya of Chisec in Guatemala experience first-hand a number of changes in weather and climate. They complain of hotter and drier weather as well as less wind and thunder. To a large extent they claim that these changes are due to deforestation. In accordance with Western science, the Q’eqchi’ Maya readily agree that deforestation causes changes in climate. There is nevertheless a striking difference as to why and how this linkage is construed, which is the main focus of this paper.

Central to Q’eqchi’ cosmology stands the belief in tzuultaq’as, deified spirit beings inhabiting caves and hills throughout the Q’eqchi’ region. The tzuultaq’as are owners of all things that exist upon earth and as such they control everything from animals, plants, and the weather. Therefore, humans are required to observe a morally and ritually correct behavior in order for to be allowed to hunt game, enjoy bountiful crops and good health. Deforestation is a major threat to Q’eqchi’ livelihood since as they say, a hill with no trees growing on it equals a dead tzuultaq’a. If local tzuultaq’as are absent, the Q’eqchi’ people say that there is no one left to care for the people. Thus, with deforestation follows the disappearance of tzuultaq’as along with game animals, the chance to enjoy bountiful harvests as well as uncontrolled and unpredictable weather and climate.

 

“The earth is our mother” – Yolngu ontology in the age of development

Ingrid Slotte Univeristy of Gothenburg

The Yolngu people of Arnhem Land, Australia, are an indigenous group of people who remain firmly connected to their land. They view the land as imbued with the spiritual powers of Ancestral beings who walked the earth in an ancient Dreamtime. Ancestral beings created the landscape and its geographical features, and their actions are enacted in the present through ceremony and song. In recent years the Australian government has perceived self-determination as a failed policy towards the indigenous population, and favors development which will bring indigenous people in to the ‘mainstream’ of the nation. Yolngu are increasingly feeling the pressure of decreased funding for indigenous managed programs and fear that the new policies will leave them impoverished and marginalized with no choice but to accept mining as a source of income. While Yolngu have launched numerous formal protests against the new policies, this paper examines the ontological foundation for Yolngu resistance to current development policies. In her recent book This Changes Everything, Capitalism vs.the Climate (2014), Naomi Klein argues that it is precisely indigenous people’s unique relationship to land that can give strength to a global environmental movement in turning around climate change and ‘save the planet’. Can there be a convergence between Yolngu perspectives on land and Australia’s commitment to national and global environmental goals?

 

Antropologi och film för bredare publik

Organisatörer:
Paula Uimonen, Stockholms universitet
Christer Norström, Stockholms universitet
Paolo Favero, University of Antwerp

Film lämpar sig väl för att sprida antropologisk kunskap, speciellt utanför akademin. Inom antropologin tänker vi oftast i termer av etnografisk film, men för att nå en bredare publik kan det vara värt att prova andra former, från dokumentärfilm till experimentell film. Panelen diskuterar antropologers erfarenheter av att göra film tillsammans med professionella filmskapare. På vilket sätt kan antropologisk kunskap användas vid filmskapande? Hur kan samarbete med professionella filmskapare gå till? Vilka tekniska förkunskaper behövs? Vilka etiska frågor behöver beaktas? Hur finansieras film? Genom vilka kanaler kan film distribueras? Panelen inbjuder till öppen diskussion och erfarenhetsutbyte. Filmer som diskuteras i panelen kommer även att visas under SANT 2016.

Paula Uimonen, Stockholms universitet

Chanjo ya Rushwa (Vaccination against corruption)-en etnografisk road movie

https://vimeo.com/73936399

 

Christer Norström, Stockholms universitet

I am dynamite: Anarkisten som skapade sin egen regnskog.

 

Paolo Favero, University of Antwerp, Belgium

Var och hur får etnografiska filmer plats på TV

 

Inside the Future: The Anthropology of Planning 

Organizers:
Asta Vonderau, Stockholm University
Jenny Lindblad, KTH

Plans – such as administrative layouts, architectural designs, economic growth and development projects, scientific models or policy outlines – embody and mediate visions of the societal future. Employing diverse imaginaries, forms of knowledge, and materialities, plans also create an opposition between problematic pasts and better futures, the latter often envisioned as a fixed, objectively apprehensible state. Planning processes are collaborative and collective, involving diverse actors including documents, digital modeling software, graphs and calculations, national policies and global standards, economics, technologies, expert groups, decision makers, or administrative units. Investigating planning networks and practices ethnographically puts futuristic imaginaries into a socio-cultural and historical context, shedding light on the presence of planned futures. It enables to trace power-laden political negotiations or translations, to observe administrative messiness, and to grasp ontological frictions and unexpected developments in the processes of making future.

Our panel welcomes contributions that investigate planning practices in various contexts. It invites papers that include, but are not limited to, the following questions:

  • How are technological promises and visions shaped and deployed in the process of planning, and what effects do these visions have in specific socio-cultural contexts?
  • Which power dynamics can ethnographic engagement with planning practices inform about?
  • How are new exclusions or mechanisms of (infra-)structural violence established in the course of making and implementing plans?
  • Which un-expected results, networks, collaborations, and collectivities emerge in the process of making future?
  • What makes the anthropology of planning challenging or specific in methodological terms?

 

Abstracts

Co-creation and/in governance: in search of new knowledge models for urban development

Joakim Forsemalm, Radar arkitektur & planering, Gothenburg

As discussed by Moss (2011), by way of an urban development conceived of as increasingly complex in a society characterized by governance, the number of actors involved in urban development processes are increasing. By tradition and practice, urban planning professionals – architects, urban planners, traffic engineers etc. – share an ontological baseline, i.e. a particular perception on “reality”, a “common language” and at large a shared set of practices, being “skills and knowledges that are of technical engineering type” ( Metzger et al 2015:15). How this is discussed, performed and perceived of in the day-to-day managing of cities has been debated at some length and from different perspectives (cf. Schön 1983, Czarniawska 2002).

However, as this paper discuss theoretically as well as empirically, since governance also entails a growing demand for public dialogue and increased participation by citizens, as planning has taken a “communicative turn” (Allmendinger 2002), a clash of world views arise, not unusually with indignant sets of neighbors in conflict with nervous sets of urban professionals and local politicians around some densification project (i.e. the “Nimby-effect”). Strategy – i.e. planning, architecture, city management authority at large – will probably have to deal more with and understand the tactics – generally being the way citizens use the city as it has been planned for them (cf de Certau 1983). What life in a city district mean, how it is perceived of by inhabitants, organizations, associations; how the informal ties and networks are structured and produce urban qualities is not knowledge easily manageable for the urban strategists. Less and less so, as being there, being in tune with “the chorus of idle footsteps” that is/becomes the life in urban landscape (de Certau 1983:97) obviously is something else than “playing the whole instrument”, to paraphrasewhat John Law’s “heterogeneous engineer” has been doing for so long (cf. Metzger et al 2015:16).

 

“Everything is in the document!”: paperwork and uncertain futures in a Ugandan market

Anna Baral Uppsala University

My paper explores the redevelopment plan of a market in Kampala (Uganda), demolished in 2014. Although the implementation has been punctuated by violent contestations, I intend to focus on the more silent and continuative “structural violence” (Graeber 2012) that characterized the relationship between vendors and the plan, and which I have observed in my 8 month fieldwork.

Development plans translate elusive promises for the future into bureaucratic language: they are therefore emotionally charged (Hull 2012), but often unclear, thus requiring a complex “interpretive labour” (Graeber, ibid.) on the part of the receivers. Bureaucratic opaqueness characterizes structural violence, also premised on the inequality between the documents’ producers and receivers, and on the threat of violence were the norms produced by the documents disrespected.

In Kisekka, paperwork produced by the plan was generically called “the document” by vendors, for lack of detailed knowledge about its content. It was consultable in the management and municipality’s offices, but size, density and physical proximity to authorities frustrated vendors’ desire to grasp it. Paperwork was also “socially efficacious” (Graeber 2012: 108): in order to silence vendors’ protests against the market’s demolition, authorities invoked the documents as a proof of the legality of the process, burying conflict under the neutral language of policy (Shore, Wright 1997). Epistemological uncertainty became ontological and produced a feeling of disempowerment.

Intentionally not focusing on “the document’s” details, but rather on the vendors’ perceptions collected through participant observation, the paper argues that development plans can aliment anxiety and precariousness rather than encourage hope.

 

Barrio women and energopower in the Social Urbanism of Medellin, Colombia

Juan Velásquez AtehortúaDepartment of Cultural Sciences, University of Gothenburg

Some scholars have being introducing the necessity to study how humans manage electricity. Dominic Boyer for example, inspired by Bruno Latour and Michel Foucault, also argues “there could have been no consolidation of any regime of modern biopower without a parallel securitization of energy provision and synchronization of energy discourse.” Further, he had coined this form of biopower as energopower, “a genealogy of modern power rethinking political power through electricity and fuel as an analytical tool”.[1] This paper analyses how a prepaid energy system is put into operation as a form of energopower in Medellín, Colombia, along three lines. The first line discusses how EPM, Medellín’s public utility company, describes disconnected and displaced person as new buyers of prepaid energy services. The second shows how the implementation of the system has contributed to funding both the city’s globally celebrated “Social Urbanism Planning” and the expansion of EPM in Colombia and other countries in Latin America. The third discusses prepaid electricity as a tool of energopower and how barrio-women both understand it through participating in community planning activities, and how they opposed its disciplinary methods of domination protesting against the construction of new hydropower plants in rural areas and the implantation of the prepaid energy system in the city.

Key words: energopower, barrio women, Medellin, social urbanism, prepaid energy

 

Between flexibility and continuity in planning: Temporary housing for asylum seekers and the rationality of calculation and logistics

Mauricio Rogat Stockholm University

In 2015, 162 877 were registered as asylum seekers in Sweden, an amount of people that the Swedish Migration agency, being the stately responsible agency, has had difficulties accommodating. Thus the agency has contracted private actors offering temporary housing, which has resulted in an emerging industry of private temporary housing establishments, accommodating an increasing number of people from 0 in 2010 to 25 000 by the end of 2014. Many of these establishments are hotels, campings and hostels remotely located in the countryside.

I have done fieldwork in one private temporary housing establishment, a former hotel, in the south of Sweden during two month. I did participatory observations and interviewed asylum seekers, the personnel in the hotel, volunteers and the people working in the municipality.

Following the logistics, which are based on the regulations and minimum requirements presented in the public procurements templates for the contractors, and studying the material and social reality of the hotel, revealed contingencies and discrepancies in regards to planning and objectives. Planning objectives of on the one hand flexibility to solve the rapid demand of accommodations and on the other hand continuity, the municipality’s objectives of economic and population growth, collides. In this collusion I argue that a rationality of calculation and logistics is at work in a complex interplay with the material and social reality, thus creating a borderscape continuously in the making with ad hoc-solutions. Also I argue that this rationality draws a border between the asylum seekers and the personnel, around which negotiations and border struggles are played out.

 

Colonized Futures and Occupied Present

Simon JohanssonStockholm University

In 2012, Detroit Future City (DFC) released its “Strategic Framework” document, a 761 page plan for Detroit that had been 3 years in the making. Several aspects make the DFC document stand out in the field of urban planning. Its time horizons are quite long, 50 years, and its spatial scope is the entirety of the city. The plan was ostensibly collaborative, the end result of tens of thousands of community conversations and deliberations. Furthermore, the plan itself is “unofficial” since DFC is a non-profit organization and not part of the state or the municipality, hence the plan lacks any official capacity to fund, lead or guarantee a restructuring effort dubbed “the worlds most ambitious” by Forbes magazine.

Nevertheless, the DFC and the Strategic Framework have garnered a lot of traction, politically and economically. The mayor refers to it as his “bible” and the unofficial plans of the framework have already begun to reshape circuits of capital investments and real estate development. The present triumphs of the DFC must in part be understood as the outcome of a successful colonization of the future, a colonization that in turn relies on an ongoing enrollment of people into certain forms of imagination.

Drawing on ethnographic encounters in Detroit, this paper explores a form of situation where enrollment can occur; a meeting where residents are supposed to collaboratively imagine the future, in this case the future of public transportation, in order to arrive at solutions for the present. By critically examining what is omitted from the staging of this imagination of the future – race, regionalism and reconciliation – one can better understand how certain solutions are made sensible and how they become parts of an objective and naturalized future. Such an examination will also cast light at the particular tools that are used to disrupt the imagination and preempt the a colonized future from occupying the present.

 

Imagining the Digital Future, Planning the Cloud

Asta Vonderau Stockholm University

When in 2011 a world-leading IT company expressed the intention to build a mega data center in Luleå, this announcement immediately triggered various future scenarios, ranging from an anticipated new industrial era of digital miningto an expected symbolic relocation of the city from the national periphery to the center of the global cloud. Such visions were followed by municipal planningactivities soon materializing in the form of building sites, official agreements, and new regional development programs. Luleå’s plan for the project was completed in a three months record time (instead of the usual minimum one year spend on planning), despite the fact that the data center industry still was an unknown to city planners, and despite the actual name or operations of the IT company being kept entirely secret. Accordingly, the planning process of Project Gold – as it was called by municipal actors – was as much driven by collective socio-technical imaginaries as by hard facts or former experiences. Based on an ethnographic study of the cloud industry’s implementation in Luleå, this paper investigates planning as a process of future-making which is entangled in present social hierarchies, materialities, and bodily experiences. Analyzing planning practices provides insights into the challenges which state institutions face in relation to transnational businesses.

 

Stony heritage and wooden futures

Jenny Lindblad Urban and Regional Studies, KTH

Statutory since 2000, an Urban and Sustainable development plan (Projet d’aménagement et du développement durable, PADD) is included in every municipal local development plan in France. The PADD outlines the orientations in terms of sustainable development that institutionalized planning practices must adhere to within the territory it intends. Bordeaux agreed upon its current PADD in 2015. The city is characterized by its tidal river the Garonne, the UNESCO classified city center composed of stone, and the wine yards at its doorstep. Constituting the heritage (le patrimoine) that the bordelaise population identifies with, these landscapes are highly valued in the planning scheme. Meanwhile, the fringes of the city center, which up until 20 years ago were as one bordelaise describes it “elsewhere, not Bordeaux”, are undergoing intensive constructions and expands what is considered the city. Several of the new areas are “eco-quartiers”, a label initiated by the ministry in charge of sustainable development, with wood as an appreciated material. These neighborhoods materialize imaginaries of durable ways of living the future Bordeaux.

My presentation is drawn from two-month of fieldwork during which I encounter politicians, planners, technical experts, civil servants and consulting researchers involved with (re)making the city along with the sustainable imperatives. I intend here to make a tentative first description of how the planning document PADD is made sense of and deployed by actors that are part of the municipal planning network.

 

Anthropology and Heritage

Organizers:
Staffan Appelgren, University of Gothenburg
Nicholas Waller, University of Gothenburg

“[The past is] a foreign country with a booming tourist trade….” is how the geographer David Lowenthal once aptly described the growing popular interest in history (1985). 30 years later, the past is not just a cozy resort away from home, but increasingly an ever-present realm intervening in the present and affecting the future. The expanding field of heritage making is a fruitful domain for anthropological investigation of a wide range of contemporary issues. Identity politics, politics of recognition, empowerment, governance, regional and urban development, commodification, exploitation, conflict, rights and ownership, migration and sustainability are some of the arenas in which heritage is mobilized around the world in order to make claims, money and war, but also to make memories, sense and peace. Moreover, researching heritage can be an interdisciplinary endeavor where anthropological insights enter into dialogues with perspectives of other social sciences and humanities, as well as natural sciences, and a collaborative effort working with actors and institutions of the heritage sector and civil society.

This panel welcomes contributions on a wide range of themes to explore heritage as a critical and collaborative field of study.

 

Abstracts

The Lions Blood: Religious identity, nationalism and social media among Sinhala-Buddhist youth

Carolina Holgersson Ivarsson University of Gothenburg

SinhaLe – recently stickers with this text are appearing in Colombo street life, on the back of three wheelers, on busses and in shop windows. You can also buy t-shirts online and people are making tattoos and ingenious haircuts depicting this logo. The image accompanying the text portrays a lion with a sword taken from Sri Lanka’s national flag with the word Sinha (lion) written in yellow and the last letter Le (blood) in red and tries to portray the word Sinhale as a conjunction of the two words.

The old story goes that an Indian prince, Vijaya, landed in the island and got betrothed. According to chronicles his father had hands like a lion. Vijaya inherited the lion genes of his father and it is widely believed that he was the first king of Sri Lanka. The idea that Sinhale means lions blood originates with this story and the belief that the Sinhalese are descendants of this king.

The historical tale in this specific present-day manifestation carries an ultra-nationalistic Sinhala Buddhist message into the political scene in Sri Lanka. Evoking patriotism and ethno-religious divisions, it has gained popularity in particular amongst youth and is spreading via social media campaigns on Facebook.

The paper builds upon recent fieldwork in Sri Lanka and will present fresh ethnography revolving around Sinhala Buddhist youth, religious identity and social media. It seeks ways to understand nationalism and religious radicalisation and the use of powerful mytho-historical symbols and tales in new media such as Facebook, and to capture how this plays out in the lives of young Sinhala Buddhists.

 

Sacred places, tourism and cultural heritage –pilgrimages on West Java

Jörgen HellmanUniversity of Gothenburg

Sacred places on Java (Indonesia) have for a long time served as pilgrim sites and have more recently also become major tourist attractions. The aim of this paper is to describe this process and how that connects to Islamic revivalism and the ambitions of creating a national cultural heritage. In order to fulfil that aim, part of the paper uses a pilgrimage to Gunung Sunda/Mountain Sunda as a way of exploring the tensions around sacred sites. A common reason to make this pilgrimage is to ask ancestors about help to improve living conditions. At the pilgrim site ancestors possess the pilgrim leader and communicate directly with the pilgrims. This form of pilgrimage – villagers meeting with ancestors at specific places – have been under heavy contestation for a long time, mainly by Islamic organizations which sees it as blasphemy. More recently, they have also been marginalized by the growth of a national cultural heritage where religious monuments and sacred places have transformed into tourist objects – framed by ticketing, regulations, souvenir shops, etc.

The paper is basically empirical and describes how sacred places on Java have changed and are changing. The analytica part deals with the specific problem of how the transformation of religious sites deprives pilgrims of the chance to establish direct communication with ancestors. In this sense the wishes pilgrims have to improve on their lives by contacting ancestors in ways they are familiar with, are contested by ambitions to create a national cultural heritage as well as by Islamic organisations.

 

The (re)invention of Swedish cheese making

Kelsey Oldbury Stockholm University

The way in which one product connects a variety of multi-species entanglements makes food, or cheese in this case, “ethnographically interesting because of its pivotal capacity of drawing many crucial aspects of life together” (Grasseni 2011: 10). Cheese is a site of many intersecting actors: people, animals, organisms, technologies, places and times (West et al. 2012) and artisan production is one part in the jigsaw puzzle that is the contemporary food landscape. Over the past decade the number of small-scale cheese makers in Sweden has grown, and continues to grow. At the Nordic Museum’s 2016 cheese festival panel discussions reflected on how to create a cheese culture in Sweden, survival and revival, and a “levande landsbygd”, with cheese makers in attendance ranging from Arla to small-scale artisan producers. Based on fieldwork with an artisan cheese maker working in the Stockholm archipelago this paper will address how cheese making seeks to (re)invent cheese heritage in Sweden. What kind of networks does artisan food making bring together? Which tropes does artisan production play on in the creation of a cheese heritage? Looking at cheese making practices as a multi-species assemblage this paper explores how cheese making in Sweden relates to the wider politics of landscape, locality, and Europe.

 

Grave Memorials as Cultural Heritage

Anders Gustavsson University of Oslo

My starting point is to study grave memorials as cultural expressions of the time in which they were erected. Focus is placed on changes over time. The period under study extends from the early 1800s, when permanent grave memorials began to be erected at cemeteries in Sweden, and until the 1900’s. My analysis has concentrated on the following aspects of the topic:

• Materials
• Social differences
• Gender
• Age
• View on life/afterlife
• Protection

As a result of the analysis of messages on grave memorials, I address cultural heritage issues: what  should be selected and defined as being cultural heritage and thus should be preserved and made available for posterity?

Key words: cemeteries, cultural heritage, grave memorials, protection

 

Making heritage make sense: remembering the violence of Colonia Dignidad

Siri Schwabe Stockholm University

Located about a four hour drive south of Santiago de Chile, what is now known as Villa Baviera lies hidden away, off the beaten track, among grassy fields within thick woods at the bottom of the Andes. When I visited the place in late 2013, the driveway from the main road and into the compound itself already filled me with an eerie sensation as it took me and my travel companions further and further into the twilight, quiet except for the noise of the car bumping along on the gravel road and the rain coming down on the windshield.

At the time I knew very little of the place. My flatmate had invited me along for a weekend trip with her family and told me that she had booked us a stay at an old German colony. It was only after our arrival that I discovered that Villa Baviera was much more than that—or at least had been. Previously known as Colonia Dignidad, our weekend getaway had been a central location to two overlapping and prolonged instances of violence. From early on, the evangelical preacher who founded the colony had managed to create a closed community riddled with abuse. Later on, during the years of military rule, Colonia Dignidad was used as a site of torture and detention, all with the approval of the man in charge.

In this presentation I want to put forth Colonia Dignidad/Villa Baviera as a site of contentious heritage-making; a site whose past contains a multitude of paradoxical experiences. I have yet to conduct actual research within this particular field, and this will thus first and foremost be a preliminary attempt to locate a fruitful approach to it.

 

 

(de)Localizing boundaries: Multidisciplinary approaches to empirical research, theory and method – Master students’ panel

Organizers:
Mariapia Rosa Campanella, Uppsala University
Adelaida Caballero, Uppsala University

Since anthropology emerged as a discipline, it has depended on interdisciplinary collaborations: subjects and objects have mixed and merged throughout its history, deriving in that contemporary approaches to empirical research present younger generations of anthropologists with a broader range of methodological and theoretical choices. This panel aims at showcasing some of the multidisciplinary approaches currently brought about during research design, fieldwork, and ethnographic writing. In this context, research design is regarded as the creative tailoring of theoretical assumptions and methodological possibilities joined to ground a relevant research question. Fieldwork is treated as the testing ground for interdisciplinary approaches. Ethnographic writing is, in turn, conceived as a material arena of sorts in which the blurring of discursive, disciplinary and stylistic boundaries is to take place.

 

Abstracts

Infrastructures, Higher Education and Anthropology: or how (not) to get lost in different disciplines

Stefanie Mallow Uppsala University

Higher Education has been studied by a variety of people, in many different disciplines: Sociology, economy, geography and many other are working together in this diverse area. Yet, even though the works of anthropologists (e.g. Hannerz, Appadurai) are frequently quoted in literature about higher education, it seems as if anthropologists doing research in and about higher education are relatively few. Books like Homo Academicus (Bourdieu, 1984) and Academic Tribes and Territories (Becher, 2001) were not written by anthropologists. Nevertheless they provide useful insights into academia, and often use ethnographic methods.

In this paper I want to explore the challenges of a young anthropologist entering the field of higher education. It is about meeting people from a variety of disciplines: the physicist who wonders if anthropology is actually scientific; the sociologist mixing higher education with economics; and the biologists who is now responsible for quality assurance. It is about studying up and sideways, about making the home exotic, and about being lost in the known. In particular I want to focus on infrastructures in academia, the obvious ones and the maybe not so obvious ones, and how they can (potentially) be used to combine the different disciplines involved in higher education research.

 

Network in Movement: communication and negotiation of visibility, space, and boundaries, a case study of local activists of a socio-political movement in contemporary Italy

Laura Merlo Stockholms Universitet

It is only in the last couple of decades that anthropology has begun to look at social movements as something that can be considered a subject of interest and study within the discipline. With the renewed attention catalysed by the Occupy movement in the US, the popularity of the field has grown, prompting new and further researches. Taking example from J. S. Juris’ works regarding social movements and the use of technology, I structured my own work to explore the organization and practices of activists belonging to a movement involved in politics both locally and on a national level.

In order to obtain relevant and reliable results for an anthropological thesis, the study of this type of activism was achieved through the meeting of different disciplinary approaches, both within and outside the anthropological paradigm. The focus of my work will be that of elaborating on the different fronts of data-gathering within the study of socio-political movements that I encountered during my own fieldwork experience, and the subsequent need of a multidisciplinary approach in order to manage and organize data for further research and later writing. In particular, I will describe how the study of media within political science proved to be a useful tool for a preliminary understanding of the field, and for helping me define and limit the scope of my research, and how political history has come to be part of my process of thesis writing in order to successfully describe and analyse a phenomenon otherwise conveyable with difficulty in an international context.

 

A new way of dying: hard science and soft science applied in the study of funeral rites.

Sara Raimondi Bologna University

The aim of my research is to get into the practices around the corpse since death until the burial. My work begun by considering actions and gestures as performances of social drama (Turner) and exploring the value of the dead body as embodied habitus (Csordas 1990:8). However, if anthropology cares about funeral rites, it must also extend his own theoretical boundaries to the many different aspects of social and individual life linked to death. Therefore, it is necessary to involve other disciplines to interpret accurately the features of Italian funerary rites.

First of all the historical and sociological studies of Ariès (1975) Vovelle (1983) and Gorer (1967) allow us to include the recent changes in the funeral industry in a social development begun after the Second World War. The collective perception of death must be explored through some philosophical works, along with anthropological techniques such as participant observation and interviews; mortuary laws and the biomedical definition of death are object of further analysis.

Finally, it is important to adopt some theories about spaces to examine where these performances take place (in particular the new funeral houses in Italy), beginning with Augé definition of nonlieux (1992), followed by the insights of some Italian geographers.

This work has the final purpose to show how a holistic perspective related to the ethnographic method could offer a direction to the dynamic funerary industry.

 

Power in an organisation that values autonomy – how does that work?

Nanna Sandberg Uppsala University

Organisational studies as a cross-discipline has been heavily influenced by sociology and management studies, creating more focus on structures and top-down concerns within organisations. Taking a more bottom-up, and typically anthropological, approach, what do we find?

Instead of a traditional bureaucratic organisation where power flows from the top, down to each employee. There are now more and more companies moving away from this ideal and setup. So how do they make their employees do what they want them to do? How does the power flow in such an organisation?

Taking the example of the Product Development department at a medium-sized IT companies in the finance sector, I will explore how the importance of colleagues becomes more than just social. How team- and pair-work actually brings corporate power and ideals closer to each individual employee, bringing power to bear more directly on the person. What horizontal power can mean in technology-focused, knowledge-intensive workplace.

The talk is based on fieldwork conducted in the autumn of 2015 for my masters’ thesis. The thesis looks at performance management, or how a company gets their employees to do what they want and do it as well as possible, in an IT startup where autonomy and fun are key corporate values.

 

The Rebellion of the Chicken: Towards the Rediscovery of Anthropological Poetics

Adelaida Caballero Uppsala University

By the early 1990s, two decades after Clifford Geertz’s notion of ‘culture as text’ swept over anthropology, the postmodern world had closed in, and researchers found themselves looking to other disciplines for guidance. It was the proliferation of ‘textualism’ in literary studies what encouraged poetic growth in anthropology (Brady, 1991:5). The concern that anthropological poetics had with the textual universe helped researchers realize the importance of a reflexive narrative self, and of ethnography as a literary genre. Today, anthropology no longer reads ‘culture as text’, but the questions left unanswered by its poetic branch continue to plague us. How can we bridge other people’s theories and our own methods? What are the limits of creativity in research design? Drawing on data collected among urban populations in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, I suggest that anthropological poetics is worth revisiting because of its capacity to make visible the deep existential dimensions of the taken-for-granted relations between the ‘lives’ of the objects and peoples we study, our theories/methods, ourselves as researchers, and the works we produce. I argue that anthropological poetics, and a poetically oriented mindset in general, could be a means to develop a deep experience-based analysis (the researcher’s) of another deep experience-based analysis (the people’s own, the culture’s) grasped through the flowing observation of flowing contexts, together with an understanding of the poetic licenses of action and narrative freedoms proper to those willing to share/phrase their own imaginings.

 

Arabic numbers, Arabic language: social statistics, food studies and Koranic exegesis applied to the study of Muslim’s food habits in Stockholm region.

Mariapia Rosa Campanella Uppsala University

When did anthropology start caring about Islamic dietary prescriptions? Probably right after it started caring about Islam. In 1986 Talal Asad returned to the classical concept of Orientalism, highlighting how academia was still focused on the comparison of Christianity and Islam, each broadly conceived as differing historical configurations of power and belief, one essentially located in Europe, the other in the Middle East (Asad 1986: 2).

The study of dietary prescriptions of a “religious group”, in order to achieve reliable results for an anthropological thesis, is subject to a co-participation of different disciplines, which takes in to account anthropological knowledge and research methods, as well as other subject inside and outside humanities.

The aim of my work will be to highlight the multidisciplinary approach to the study of halal food, which implies a theoretical background that includes linguistic (translation from classical Arabic), exegetical (in depth study of the Sura Al’Maida), statistical (contingencytables test) and nutritional (halal food production) insights, together with a methodological approach that takes in to account both qualitative and quantitative techniques (participant observation, interviews, and surveys). Finally, it will focus on the process of thesis writing and the consequent definition of “disciplinary area”, usually attached to the thesis abstract.

My work will also discuss the analysis of the ways an anthropological work can be though used for purposes outside of Academia, and become an important resource for both market analysis and nutritional purposes.

 

“A Whistling Way”

Malin Rundstedt Lund University

During the fall of 2015 I spent three months doing a minor field study in the rural parts of western Uganda. My aim with this work was to look at the socioeconomic effect brought by a small Swedish aid organization that worked with adult education for women.

What intrigued me however, was the founders’ lack of local knowledge. She often came up with ideas of how to empower the women in the area, one of the things was starting a “whistling choir”. Because she had realized that women are by tradition not allowed to whistle, so by making them whistle she wanted to raise a discussion about women’s rights. The problem was that she did not grasp what a major taboo this is and she did not apprehend when told about the possible effects. Many of the women knew that if they joined they could be divorced, beaten and some would be kicked out of their homes. Because of the strong hierarchy and the urge to please the founder, who is considered superiority, many still joined. From what I have gathered afterwards many of the women’s fears came true.

This is just one example of how a lack of knowledge about local culture can destroy rather than help, my belief is that anthropology can be used to avoid situations like this. Thru my presentation I wish to raise thoughts and debate, not only about how anthropology can be applied in the field of development, but also about the necessity of it being part of the field of development and development studies.

 

Independent Papers

Abstracts

Articulating ‘Indigeneity’ in Cambodia as the Scramble for Land Intensifies

Alexandra Kent Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, Copenhagen.

This paper describes a prospective study exploring how the notion of indigeneity is being articulated in Cambodia today in the face of acute threats to the survival of the country’s remaining forest-dwelling peoples and their rapidly vanishing environment.

The land and resources in the forested areas that are home to the country’s remaining “indigenous” communities are becoming increasingly interesting for extractive/agro-industry and dam construction. While the 2001 Land Law provides for “indigenous” communities to apply for collective title, the application process gives state authorities the power to decide who qualifies as “indigenous” and thus to stall and block the granting of titles. The government and the private companies it endorses are routinely using this, together with the corrupt judiciary and entrenched clientism to their advantage. Many forest-dwellers have already lost their land and the situation for remaining communities is acute. There is growing awareness that framing a collective identity as indigenous may, by giving them access to a transnational platform, help them gain visibility in resisting or making demands of the state. Failing this, some are now finding that non-institutional tactics, such as violent protest, may be more effective in protecting community interests.

 This study is intended to focus on the Bunong peoples in the northeastern province of Mondulkiri, where deforestation has recently accelerated greatly, and explores the way in which indigeneity is now being formulated and negotiated, by whom, for whom and with what effects.

 

Acting Poor: Strategic Use of ’Poverty Identity’ among Rwandan Peasants

Anna Berglund Lund University

Rwandan policy makers are aware that poverty is a mounting problem in the country,where more than 85 percent of the population are subsistence peasants. Poverty reduction is set out in a national program, part of which involves officially classifying peasants according to various poverty levels. The peasants themselves are required to assist authorities in defining their neighbors according to these state-invented poverty classifications.

Based on 12 months of fieldwork in a rural Rwandan village, this paper shows how the officially defined ‘poor peasants’, perceive, construct and use their ‘poverty identity’ and how it changes in different contexts. The ability to strategically manipulate their poverty identity enables them to obtain access to material resources and key social relations, but poverty is also connected to shame. Peasants therefore minimize, hide or lie about their poverty in some situations while highlighting their poverty in others in order to obtain aid, or organize themselves collectively as ‘poor’. This paper proposes that we view poverty as a dynamic category used by bureaucrats and local actors. Being poor can be a form of ‘identity politics’.

 

Migrants and the increasing stratification of Swedish labor: A debate lacking voices

Heidi Moksnes Stockholm University

The lowest salaries in Sweden are paid to irregular migrants as well as asylum seekers, who sometimes take irregular work to extend the limited allowance they receive from the migration agency. Along with different forms of temporary labor migrants, they form today part of the bottom levels of the Swedish labor force, working for salaries far below regular national rates and with minimal conditions of security. In the global race for lower costs for production and service, they constitute an attractive option for many employers. With the rapidly growing number of asylum seekers that we see today, we can expect increased competition for these irregular employments, with possibly even lower salaries.

Recently, there have been political propositions to institute regularized salary rates for newly arrived migrants lower than the common Swedish rates. This would create a new level in the hierarchy of labor conditions – in between those for irregular (migrant) work and those of the formalized, collective agreements.

How will this changing labor scene be debated in Sweden? Swedish unions generally regard substandard salaries as a threat against the established levels, and are not likely to mobilize with underpaid migrant workers, especially those working irregularly, to improve their work conditions. Will there be arenas for irregular/new migrant workers to voice their different standpoints?

 

Moving outside the box: Conceptualizations of Portuguese migrants in Angola

Lisa Åkesson University of Gothenburg

In the current public debate, “the migrant” is incessantly constructed as a person from the Middle East or Africa seeking refuge in North-Western Europe. Yet this image only represents a small fraction of the human mobility actually taking place, and it has nothing to say about the direction of future migration flows. The underlying aim of this paper is to unsettle established ideas about contemporary migration by presenting the case of contemporary postcolonial Portuguese labour migration to Angola. In particular, the paper focuses on current conceptualizations such as “migrant”, “returnee” and “expat”. It brings out how Portuguese labour migrants and their Angolans fellow workers employ these concepts, and it discusses the shifting semantic meanings they attribute to these concepts. Against this background, the paper critically analyses how these concepts are used in migration studies and in the public debate.

 

Waiting for the railway and the dry port: Imagining future prosperity at a West African crossroads

Gabriella Körling  Stockholm University

In 2014, the construction of Niger´s first railway was announced. The railway would as a first step provide the landlocked country with a direct connection to the coast and to the maritime port of Cotonou (Benin). In this paper I explore the different ways in which such national infrastructure projects are filtered through local perceptions and expectations. The paper is based on recent fieldwork (Dec 2015-March 2016) carried out in the town of Dosso a slumbering regional capital situated in southwestern Niger situated alongside the future railway track. In Dosso, the start of construction of the long awaited railway rekindled hope that construction of a planned dry port that would process exports and imports to and from the port of Cotonou (Benin) would also soon become a reality. Despite being situated near the borders to Nigeria and to Benin and at the crossroads of two important national highways commercial activities and other forms of investment in Dosso has never really taken off and the local economy has remained stagnant. The prospect of the completion of the railway and the dry port seemed to promise a brighter economic future. The paper is focused on waiting and anticipation including imaginaries of anticipated connections to other places and seemingly elusive flows of goods and economic capital as well as more concrete strategies of investment in an emerging ‘economy of anticipation’ (Cross 2015). Finally, I will also explore the politics of these large scale infrastructure projects in terms of past and present relations with the state and the position of the region of Dosso in the wider national context.

 

How the construction of ‘female genital mutilation’ as a social problem leads to alarmist estimates of illegal circumcision of girls in Europe

Sara Johnsdotter Malmö Univeristy

In 2015, I and a legal expert from Spain, professor Ruth Mestre i Mestre at Valencia University, made an analysis of twenty recent European criminal court cases on ‘female genital mutilation’ (FGM). We also analysed data collected in eleven countries regarding rumours among key actors (such as activists and professionals) on whether there was transnational movement going on within the EU in order to have girls circumcised in another country.

In this presentation, I would like to discuss the data in light of sociological discussions about the social construction of social problems (e.g., Loseke 2003). The concept of ‘typification’ in this approach is especially useful, since there is a widespread stereotype at work, picturing African migrants in Europe as potential ‘kitchen-table mutilators’.

Finally, I will argue that exaggerated estimations of illegal circumcision of girls may make a real difference, and that they – contrary to the intentions among policy makers producing them – may make the process toward a complete abandonment of circumcision practices among African communities in Europe more difficult.

 

From the Inside Out: Writing Anthropological Journalism

Helena Wulff Stockholm University

“So you´re a writer – why don´t you write about us in the paper?” one dancer after another kept asking me when I was doing fieldwork in the transnational ballet world in Stockholm, London, Frankfurt, and New York. The people I was studying were suggesting that I should make myself useful by writing about them in the newspaper. In order to give something back to the people that had allowed me access to the closed world of ballet, I set out on my first piece of cultural journalism for Svenska Dagbladet, an “understreckare”. In this paper, I argue that writing cultural journalism that draws on anthropological research is a tale of two translations: firstly, taking ethnographic observation into academic writing, secondly, academic text into popular text. Writing anthropological journalism requires special training. Cultural journalism is a feature of outreach activities at universities, one way of communicating and collaborating with groups and audiences outside the university summed up by the term “tredje uppgiften”, the third task (the other two being research and teaching). Disseminating research results to a wider audience is regarded as a question of democracy, not least by anthropologists, even an ethical one, also according to the argument that “scholars live on tax payers´ money”. It is also the case that the Swedish Research Council requests a popular article as a part of the final reporting of funded projects. Despite the call to disseminate research to a wider audience such activities do not count in academic ranking and citation indices.

 

Popular Struggle and Scholarly Engagement in Burkina Faso

Sten Hagberg Department of Cultural Anthropology / Forum for Africa Studies, Uppsala University

In this paper, I would like to discuss my scholarly involvement and public engagement in last 18 months of dramatic political developments in Burkina Faso. Since October 2014 the country has experienced a popular revolution, a one-year political transition, a failed coup d’état, presidential elections and terrorist attacks. I will show how the anthropological research that I have conducted in Burkina Faso for almost 30 years has come to shift focus from an engaged academic research on democratization and on the politics from below, towards a scholarly, as well as, political engagement for democracy and popular struggle. It is my contention that such a doubly engagement raises important questions to anthropology at large, both from the inside and the outside.

 

Writing Action. How to Fit Alterations into Action Plan Documents

Renita Thedvall Stockholm University

In this paper, focus is placed on the “action plan” document. It explores the idea of the action plan as a tool for action and how formatted action plan documents produce particular kinds of knowledge and values on what kind of action that can be taken and how it should be performed. Ethnographically, the paper investigates how preschool staff in Swedish public preschools work to fit their alterations of their work organization into the action plan documents developed through a management model called Lean. Lean traces its origins from the car industry, but has lately spread like wildfire in the public sector in Sweden and abroad. The paper shows how the preschool teachers struggle to fit their alterations of work practices into the action plan document, where the graphic organization (Hull 2012) of the “action plans” puts evaluation at focus. There has to be measurable goals so that results can be controlled and responsible actors can be held accountable visible in the headings of the columns in the action plan documents determining the need to evaluate and follow up also anticipating future form-filling (cf. Riles 2006:18) by putting monitoring, evaluation and accountability at the center.

 

Treating AIDS: Perceptions of AIDS treatment in Mafalala, Maputo city, Mozambique

Margarida Paulo University of Gothenburg

The paper discusses how AIDS treatment is carried out in Mafalala in three perspectives: biomedical (antiretroviral therapy drugs), spiritual treatment (“vaccine” and purification bath) and non-spiritual treatment (the use of mixture of herbs). The spiritual and non-spiritual treatments are provided by healers who live and have their office in Mafalala. Antiretroviral therapy drugs (ART) are free in Mozambique but many poor people living with AIDS (PLWHA) do not use it or abandon the treatment for reasons, such as: lack of healthy food, the stigma PLWHA face in different contexts, the restrictions PLWHA should follow when taking  ART and the perception that ART have bitter taste. Some PLWHA use mixture of herbs provided by healers because healers offer privacy when treating AIDS’s opportunistic illnesses (e.g. tuberculosis and diahorea among others). This paper is based on 11 month of fieldwork in Mafalala bairro in Maputo city, Mozambique.

 

Inquiries: sant2016@globalstudies.gu.se

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