The theme for the conference, Anthropology and Enlightenment, takes its inspiration from the tradition of the Scottish Enlightenment, born in an era when intellectual life in Scotland was at its most cosmopolitan and outward-facing. This was a time of intellectual optimism and experimentation, of polymaths and autodidacts who were not afraid to address the widest and most fundamental questions of what it is to be human. Above all, the Scottish Enlightenment was a milieu rather than a school, a world of public argument in coffee-houses – and indeed in drinking establishments – rather than a canonical set of texts. Through our choice of theme we aim to rekindle the spirit that gave birth to the discipline of anthropology, yet in a manner and an idiom appropriate to the contemporary era, by combining historical reflection with an exploration of anthropology’s relations with other disciplines, including philosophy, political economy, theology, history, architecture, medicine, law, agriculture and even sociology. Six invited panels are the basis of the programme and will address current interdisciplinary themes, each of which could potentially be aligned with, and identified by, a key work from the Scottish Enlightenment.
1. Time, Earth and Cosmos
2. Health and Wealth
3. Natural Religion
4. Human / Nature
5. Beauty, Order, Harmony and Design
6. Moral Sentiments
The 2014 decennial conference of the ASA was hosted by the STAR consortium. Founded in 2006, STAR (Scottish Training in Anthropological Research) brings together anthropologists from the Universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews.