ASA18: Sociality, matter, and the imagination: re-creating Anthropology

18-21 September 2018, Examination Schools, University of Oxford

Laboratories (Labs) at ASA18

The Call for Laboratories (Labs) has closed and the results will be published by May 2nd.

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The ASA2018 Laboratories programme will provide spaces and opportunities for participants to explore the conference themes in sessions that differ from panels comprising 20-minute papers. With more flexible formats, Laboratories can potentially open up ways of doing anthropology that generate fresh insights, understandings or approaches. They can set up situations for introducing, developing and testing ideas, for collaboratively identifying, examining, and taking action on issues.

To address pressing and difficult concerns, anthropologists are increasingly doing their work in experimental modes, whether with film, video, photography, drawing, exhibitions, sound productions, performance or with written words. Indeed, many aspects of contemporary life and death that anthropologists seek to analyse demand critical re-evaluation and innovation in method, interpretation and presentation.

ASA2018 asks participants to consider a key question: if sociality, matter, and the imagination are reconsidered from multiple perspectives across the discipline, how might we renew and re-create anthropology? Alongside the conference panels, the Laboratories programme aims to engage with this question and to help stimulate wide-ranging debate around the conference sub-themes: language and imagination, creative bodies, environmental imaginations, transformation and time. How do social, material and imaginative dimensions of lived bodies and environments mesh, become separated or morph over time? How might anthropologists document and theorise these processes more effectively, and with sensitivity to the politics, ethics, affects and sensations entailed?

Laboratories will be designed as interactive, reflexive sessions that prioritise exploration, rather than the discussion of already established research results. They can be used to tackle practical problems, to revaluate concepts and to find new theoretical directions. They can facilitate anthropological investigation of matters and entities ranging from the macro to the micro. Labs might turn attention to the generation and shaping of knowledge in practice, to the attunement of the senses, and to processes of sense-making. Whether concerned with possibilities and limitations in current anthropological method, theory, analysis, and styles of communication, Labs can provide space for addressing any aspect of our conference themes.

Lab convenors are invited to devise sessions in experimental formats involving collaborative activities, and using media and equipment as appropriate, for example digital photography, sound making and recording, sketching, sculpting, cartooning, diagramming, mapping, walking, dancing, marital arts, writing in different forms and genres. Each Lab will be a 90-minute session and can be convened by individuals or collectives.

Labs cannot have named, pre-selected contributions the way panels have papers, but it is possible to limit the number of participants through pre-registration.

Labs convenor

Elizabeth Hallam (University of Oxford)

If you have any further enquiries about the conference please contact conference(at)