ASA19: University of East Anglia, Norwich 3-6 September 2019
Timetable: ANTHROPOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES ON GLOBAL CHALLENGES
Click where it says "Panel session x" to see the panels taking place within that session.
- 11:30-18:00 Registration desk open
- 13:00-14:30 Panel session 1
- 14:30-15:00 Refreshments
- 15:00-16:30 Panel session 2
- 16:30-16:45 Break
- 16:45-18:30 Welcome, Keynote: Firth lecture: Prof. Ann Stoler
Colonial disorders past and present: some planetary considerations
Chair: Nigel Rapport
In our current fraught – fiercely inequitable and environmentally precarious-- world order, colonialism – as process, as condition, as situation, as metaphor, and as a shorthand for injustice-- is invoked in a set of both intensely familiar and wholly new ways: at once as a regrettable history to be acknowledged and as decidedly over; increasingly as the logic underpinning a contemporary array of brutal forms of governance (either understood as colonial vestige or reinvention), and not infrequently as a dark diagnostic of where the world is heading on a planetary scale.
In this latter scenario, colonialism extends as a multiplex phenomenon: as imminent proliferating condition, as warning, and as strategic accusation. Naming here is a political practice, part of an alert system on a new scale. And the alert is pointed: to intensified, accelerated differentiations, manifest in ever uglier, blatant forms of expulsions, erasures, and selective dispossibilities. These rival those licit and illicit entwined networks that conferred the right to kill “to defend society” at another time, always imagined as exceptions and urgencies but never on an imperial wide scale. Today the accretions are seen to be new, more encompassing, a division of the earth as empire with sites of damage and reward, precarity and safety, vulnerability and security marking out a clarity of catastrophic differentiation and difference that has never been seen before.
How well does our collective concept-work measure up to grappling with this crescendo? How well does it reckon with metaphoric strategies developed to address physical and psychic damage and long delayed political claims? And how much are state systems dependent on producing internal enemies of their own making? Are those quasi citizens and non-citizens, rendered as the interior frontiers of the polis, the underside of a new imperial logic and division of the world?
This presentation offers an uneasy pause at this conjuncture to consider what these varied sorts of attention to, around and on the edges of “the colonial” politically entail? Do they signal the urgent quest for a more active, vivid conceptual grammar or a more acutely accurate one? Might we treat the range of scenarios and their affective politics as in itself a new measure of a spatial and temporal set of dissonances, a world out of sync with the temporalities in which we think and write? Could one argue that the colonial call does not hark back to Fanon but registers an awkward and only partially effective move: a brazenly non-disciplinary dissent from the disorder and discrepancies of choice, resources, possibilities that the carceral archipelago of empire imposes and that the “the carte blanche” of capital confers on some, insuring that wars over communitas in the idiom of immunitas will continue to shape how, where, and who constitutes the “we” with whom we live.
- 19:00-21:00 Welcome reception
- 08:00-16:15 Registration desk open
- 09:00-10:30 Panel session 3
- 10:30-11:00 Refreshments
- 11:00-12:30 Panel session 4
- 12:30-14:00 Lunch
- 12:45-14:00 Hannah Knox (UCL) leads a session on Redesigning Conferencing
- 12:45-14:00 Heads of Departments (HODs) meeting
- 12:45-13:45 Brown Bag Session on Ethics with Ben Jones
- 14:00-15:30 Plenary: Prof. Katy Gardner, Dr Jafari S Allen, Dr Luke Heslop
The Evil Outside and the Evil Within: Anthropology, Development and Decolonisation
Plenary speakers: Katy Gardner & Jarari S. Allen
Discussant: Luke Heslop
Session Chair: Dan Rycroft
What and who is anthropology for? Is it an extractive exercise which ultimately reinforces power relations, a form of interpretation and translation, or a potentially radical and even transformational set of methods, theory and insight? Whose interests does it serve?
Whilst the answer is partly that anthropology is all of these things, for the discipline is vast, its history deep and various, and those that practice it in all its forms are heterogeneous, these questions have been present since its 19 th Century infancy and, given their complexity, will almost certainly never be wholly resolved. In my presentation today, however, I want to focus on the question of Anthropology’s relationship to development. After all, the Global Challenges Research Fund (after which this conference is named) is an initiative which locates ‘challenges’, and problem solving research within the domain of development.
In what follows I describe how UK anthropology has shifted in its approach to development over the last thirty years. In the late 1980s / early 1990s, development was largely a despised endeavour and development anthropology a sub-field given little intellectual or indeed moral credence. This position is brilliantly analysed by James Ferguson’s 1997 ‘evil twin’ article – which exemplifies the position of much of the mainstream when I was a graduate student. How different things are today, in which questions of ‘development’ / global problems are now so ubiquitous that they are the themes of the ASA conference! I am particularly interested in the evocation of evil within development, and the underlying question of moral good, which I will return to later. By posing the question ‘what happened next?’ I plan to briefly update the story of the co-dependent, conflict ridden relationship between anthropology and development, situating it within the changing political economy of knowledge production, neo liberal corporatisation and audit culture in HE, as well as profound transformations in the wider worlds in which we work.
What I will argue is that there has been a fundamental shift in the location and nature of the moral problem: whilst up to the 1980s/90s development was an ‘evil twin’, closely related but external, with anthropology and its pristine ‘people without history’ to be protected by anthropology, it is now anthropology itself that has become morally problematic, with calls for the rethinking of its epistemology, methods and political commitments coming in a variety of interlinked guises. Rather than pushing development anthropology to the margins and defending the boundaries of the discipline, as described in Ferguson’s 1997 article, the call is for anthropology not only to own its troubled past but also to open up and engage. Here, we return to the central moral question: engage on what terms, with what, and who for?
- 15:30-16:00 Refreshments
- 16:00-17:30 Panel session 5
- 17:30-17:45 Break
- 17:45-19:15 Keynote: Prof. James Ferguson
Rightful Shares and the Claims of Presence: Distributive Politics beyond Labor and Citizenship This paper presents a perspective on the contemporary politics of distribution -- i.e., that modality of politics that is concerned with the fundamental questions of who gets what, and why. It starts with the observation that labor and citizenship (long the anchors for our thinking about these fundamental questions) no longer provide an adequate way of answering them. Both in my own area of specialization (southern Africa) and across the global South and beyond, the old answers leave out huge populations. Growing masses of unemployed and underemployed and the rapid expansion of precarious and so-called “informal” livelihoods undermine the old promise of universal provisioning via wages. At the same time, an increasingly mobile global population leaves growing numbers, all over the world, undocumented -- thus undercutting the citizenship-based rights that have traditionally provided the political justification for distributions of “social” payments from the state. Yet emergent new forms of distributive politics show the importance of different kinds of distributive claims in these times -- claims based on neither labor nor citizenship but on what we might call (in the broadest sense) “ownership”, on the one hand, and what I have termed “presence” on the other. The paper argues that the rise of these alternatives to the long-established grounding of distributive allocations in labor or citizenship is part of a larger process that is opening up new grounds for distributive claims, and new kinds of arguments for the legitimacy of distributive shares. The challenge for scholarship is to better grasp the implications of these new claims and arguments that are now profoundly challenging long-entrenched ways of thinking about distribution.
- 19:45-22:00 A respectful conversation about: migration
Norwich Arts Centre and LJ Hope Productions present
A respectful conversation about: migration - Migration and Knowledge Production in the Arts and Academia: Collaborative Utopias?
UEA Drama Studio
Chaired by Katy Jon Went
A panel of speakers representing our wide academic and artistic community will lead discussions on the subject of migration and knowledge production, with a key focus on the opportunities and limitations of collaborations between diverse communities in academia, the art sector and beyond. Our aim is to underscore the various practical challenges in reaching a broader dialogue between the university and a multi-cultural society. This is not a debate with winners and losers but the chance for proper conversations to take place in a safe and respectful environment. There will be plenty of opportunity for everyone to join in and share thoughts and ideas with a view to enabling a better understanding of all points of view. This event is co-organised by the ASA conference panel on “Anthropology, Museums and Art: Collaborative Methodologies in Migration Research” in its aim to engage in a wider conversation with the community.
This is a free but ticketed event. Book in advance here
- 08:00-16:15 Registration desk open
- 09:00-10:30 Panel session 6
- 10:30-11:00 Refreshments
- 11:00-12:30 Panel session 7
- 12:30-14:00 Lunch
- 12:45-13:45 Workshop - Anna Mudeka (public event)
The Arts Journey from Past to Future
Anna Mudeka, musician and festival organiser
Kure Kure/Faraway: A tale of Ancestors, Identity, Atavism, Migration and DNA
Anna will introduce her work as a Zimbabwean artist living in the UK. She is currently touring a one-woman theatre show KURE KURE/FARAWAY. The show is hailed as "An epic story of migration, atavism, DNA and the ancestors" origins which speaks of the challenges and opportunities of starting a new life in a different country. Anna's work considers the threads that link the ancient and the modern and asks questions around history, politics, time, place & identity.
- 12:45-14:00 ASA’s Annual General Meeting
- 14:00-15:30 Panel session 8
- 15:45-16:15 Refreshments
- 16:15-17:45 Plenary - Prof. Sharon Macdonald
Castles in the air… and on the ground: utopian worlding and troubling temporalities in heritage-making
Chair: Ferdinand de Jong
In the centre of Berlin, a major heritage-making project is nearing completion. A partial reconstruction of a destroyed castle (or palace – Schloß), the project has been invested with grand hopes for healing the wounds of history, supporting the building of a new, unified German nation, and even reshaping European sensibilities to the wider world. For others, however, such hopes are ‘castles in the air’ – overblown and unrealisable utopian imaginings. They see the new Schloß – which is formally called the Humboldt Forum – as an affront to their memories, evidence of the failings of elites, and a manifestation of deeply problematic relationships with other peoples and places. These divided perspectives concern the Schloß building and its site, and also proposed contents of the Humboldt Forum, especially the collections of the Berlin national Ethnological Museum, which will be exhibited there. Central to fuelling the divisions over the Schloß are memories of socialism (the German Democratic Republic’s parliament building was also on this site) and colonialism (especially in relation to the ethnological collections) – themselves failed and dystopian, utopian projects. These memories trouble other planned utopian narratives. As a multi- researcher ethnography of the development shows, however, such troubling also opens up new possibilities, and even helps ferment new energies, for what is, in effect, an at least partial re-worlding of the Schloß project and its repercussions. Drawing on this, and in light of calls to rethink recognition and decolonize heritage, the presentation seeks to offer an anthropological contribution to the challenges and potentials of contemporary and future heritage-as-world-making.
- 19:00-21:00 Conference dinner
- 21:00-23:30 Conference dance
Jose Ferrera and Cubanda are a multinational latin band based in Norwich. They play a mix of the latin music, salsa, merengue, Bachata and many more, they guarantee to have the audience up and dancing.
Jose Ferrera: Percussionist
Carlos Antonio Fumero: Vocalist
Vilem Hais: Bass
Jonathan Threadwell: Guitar
Will Fergusson: Pianist
Special guest Anna Mudeka, vocals and mbira
- 08:00-14:00 Registration desk open
- 09:00-10:30 Panel session 9
- 10:30-11:00 Refreshments
- 11:00-12:30 Roundtable: Traditional art practice and indigenous knowledge
Traditional art practice and indigenous knowledge
Chairs: Karen Jacobs & Steven Hooper
This roundtable will address issues concerning the challenges faced in several regions of the world by practitioners who continue to work in media and forms deriving from their own cultural backgrounds, whether carving, textiles, pottery or other media. In what ways are these practices, connected to "heritage" and indigenous knowledge, (a) under threat, and/or (b) responding to environmental, climate change and other contemporary challenges?
- 12:30-14:00 Lunch
- 14:00-15:30 Panel session 10