Theme & Keynotes
Inside and Outside Anthropology
Anthropology is a subject that evolves in and through relations, to field sites, to other disciplines and to the surrounding society. In so doing, it establishes insides and outsides and generates ideas about what anthropology is and what it is not. Some of these positions and notions are momentary but others are long lasting and incite disciplinary gatekeeping. Yet, even though anthropologists tend to share a professional identity they do not constitute a homogenous scholarly community. Quite the contrary, in many countries the borderlines between anthropology and neighboring disciplines are blurred, and in the past decades a growing number of anthropologists have engaged in inter-, cross- and transdisciplinary collaboration with scholars from other subjects. Also, it is now common that anthropologists teach courses and supervise students in how anthropology can be employed in health, business, technology, pedagogy and other professions.
In addition, many anthropologists engage in what has variously been labeled ‘public’ and ‘applied’ anthropology, often with the explicit goal of encouraging broad public conversations and/or fostering some kind of social change. A co-production of knowledge with actors outside academia is often part of such approaches. New forms of collaborative knowledge production also take place when subjects become consultants rather than informants. Collaboration may then precondition and shape both design and dissemination of research.
Yet another impetus for reconsidering the anthropological endeavor comes from recent theoretical works that question the very idea on which the discipline was founded: that humans can be studied as a distinct field of research. The implication of such thinking is that anthropology revises not only its disciplinary boundaries but also the ontological assumptions on which it rests.
This conference addresses these issues and questions by inviting scholars and students to reflect on how they navigate in relation to shifting understandings of what anthropology should be and not, whether as researchers, teachers, collaborators in the field and the academia, or in their engagement with society at large. The organizers welcome all papers that critically discuss how anthropology revisits its disciplinary borders in theory and practice and how it reinvents itself as a discipline that continues to study the human life in its indefinite varieties while reimagining its position in the scholarly community and reviewing its contribution to the contemporary world.
Penny Harvey is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester and Professor II at the University of Oslo. Penny Harvey has carried out ethnographic research in Peru, Spain and the UK and published widely on politics, power and the state, on language, information and communications technologies, and on knowledge practices with a particular focus on engineering practice, infrastructure and technical expertise. Her most recent publication is Roads: An Anthropology of Infrastructure and Expertise (with Hannah Knox) (Cornell University Press, 2015). Other publications include Objects and Materials: A Routledge Companion (edited with H. Knox and CRESC colleagues) (Routledge, 2013) and Technologized Images, Technologized Bodies: Anthropological Approaches to a New Politics of Vision (edited with J. Edwards and P. Wade) (Berghahn, 2010).
Ruben Andersson is an associated researcher at the Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University, and a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of International Development, London School of Economics and Political Science. He obtained his PhD in anthropology from LSE in 2013. Ruben Anderson’s book Illegality, INC. Clandestine Migration and the Business of Bordering Europe (University of California Press, 2014) that won the 2015 BBC Ethnography award gives an ethnographic account of the new social realities generated by Europe’s ‘fight against illegal migration’ along the continent’s southern shores. Ruben’s current research project at LSE is concerned with risk and danger in international intervention, focusing on conflict-hit Mali and the wider sub-Saharan Sahel region.
Recent article: “The Global Front against Migration” in AOTC.