ASAP monthly update – March 2017

Notable this past month

1. Insight on trade policy shows up in the Tijuana micro-brew industry — see our Instagram feed at

2. The latest ASAP column is now available on Anthropology News Online — the link is here

Presidential Elections in Austria and Rise of the Far Right

By Cansu Civilek (University of Vienna)

Reviews the Austrian presidential election with emphasis on the mixed views of Turkish immigrants on the right-wing, anti-immigrant candidate.

Moreover, [right-wing candidate] Hofer’s religious references seem to be paying off. People find him to be a believer who fears God, which makes him a more honest candidate. A business owner said, ‘Hofer takes God beside him, like Erdoğan.’”

“It appears that the easier answer for some citizens with migration backgrounds has been to disregard their own past struggles, and submit to strong leaders and their policies of socioeconomic ‘stabilization and strength.’”3. You can always access ASAP AN columns on the “ASAP Forum” tab on our web page:

Coming up

Planning goes forward for sessions at the AAA meetings in Washington, D.C. this November. Calls for papers are appearing in force on the listserv and you can also find them on our web page.

As always you can find us . . .

. . . on the web at
. . . on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as @anthofpolicy

Key contacts

Eric Cheng for the listserv at: [email protected] or [email protected]
David Haines for the web at: [email protected]
Georgia Hartman for Instagram at: [email protected]
Carol McLennan for the ASAP program in Washington at: [email protected]
Ted Powers and Judi Pajo regarding the ASAP column in AN at: [email protected] and [email protected]
Jason Scott for Facebook and Twitter at: [email protected]

Fellowship opportunity: Nuclear issues in Japan

A U.S. DOE/NNSA fellowship opportunity has opened up for a U.S.-citizen PhD student (ABD preferred) interested in studying nonproliferation and nuclear waste issues in Japan.

The fellow would work with Allison Macfarlane, the former chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The project would be to assist in research on solutions to the problem of nuclear waste disposal in Japan, and the associated proliferation risks posed by Japan’s reprocessing-only strategy. He or she would share the CISTP office suite (a few blocks from the White House) with space policy luminaries like Scott Pace and John Logsdon. Also, Ambassador Holgate, an Obama appointee who just returned from her post at the IAEA, is a visiting scholar there. The fellow would share an office room with Vincent Ialenti (a Cornell PhD student who did ethnography among Finland’s nuclear waste experts) and Lindsay Krall (a geochemist postdoc who worked on Sweden’s nuclear waste program). 

Here’s more info about the fellowship at GWU’s Elliott School of International Affairs in Washington, DC:

Call for papers: Eco-Frictions

Eco-Frictions: Heritagization, Energopolitics and Fantasies of Environmental Sustainability

Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association
November 29-December 3, 2017; Washington D.C.
Organizers: Mara Benadusi (University of Catania) and Filippo Zerilli (University of Cagliari)

Environmental crises and related concerns have increased enormously over the past few decades, creating disturbances for human and non-human life on a planetary scale. And yet, simultaneously, this trend is matched by an explosion of attempts to transform exploited sites into zones recovering from ecological disaster by any means necessary. Characterized by multiples and often conflicting moral regimes and economic systems, these ‘friction zones’ are progressively changing under the pressure of two main phenomena: one that entails a re-evaluation of (cultural/natural) ‘heritage’ producing rhetorical, pragmatic, and political manipulations of the past; the other that features sustainable environmental renewal, promoting an alternative use of natural resources. In cases where heritage status is granted, territories become ‘consecrated’ and conflicts over local politics of history and memory are disguised by a universalistic rhetoric of ‘common good’ for global collectivities. In the latter case, instead, the dimension of environmental ‘sustainability’ assumes a central position, encouraging eco-fantasies and planetary investment in and for the future. While both processes have been carefully scrutinized by recent anthropological literature, their intersections and articulations require further ethnographic as well as theoretical exploration. Heritagization, energopolitics and fantasies of environmental sustainability expose the fractures in neo-liberal economic practice, incorporating universal moral imperatives into their own discourse: in the first case encouraging the preservation of heritage, in the second imagining the safeguarding of the planet. But how do such discourses talk one to each other in actual practice, and how can we possibly grasp their often uneven, unpredictable and multi-scalar connections?

Taking inspiration from emerging ethnographic approaches to ‘global connections’ (A. Tsing), ‘assemblages’ (A. Ong & S. Collier) and strategies of ‘studying through’ (C. Shore & S. Wright), this panel proposes to scrutinize the zones of eco-friction that are formed in these spaces of collision and intersection between global and local pressures, of past and future predicaments, of commitments to protect and commitments to renew. How do politics of the past intersect and articulate with policy and politics of/for the future in these friction-ridden spaces? What specific cultural and historical paths contribute to forging ‘zones of awkward engagement’ with the environment in different ethnographic sites? And what kinds of economic and moral relations stem from the intersection between the entangled phenomena we have mentioned?

We welcome both theoretical and ethnographic contributions, specifically focusing on areas which have been object of intense environmental exploitation and are currently experiencing new forms of discursive and material investment inspired by projects and values of environmental sustainability, heritage conservation and energy-saving.

Please submit a title and 250-word abstract by Tuesday April 4, 2017 to: Mara Benadusi: [email protected] and Filippo Zerilli: [email protected]

Call for papers: Assessing expectation and expertise

Assessing Expectation and Expertise: Approaches to a Collaborative Study of Experts

Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association
November 29 to December 3, 2017; Washington D.C.,
Panel Organizers: Arthur Mason (Rice University) and Stefan Leins (University of Zurich)

New spaces of market shaping phenomena offer potential sites for examining how complex social configurations are perpetually being constructed through the conjoined assemblies of circulating material entities and competent agents engaged in valuation practices. Papers in this panel offer critical appraisals of options for studying these new interactions between risk and modernization as they relate to the production and dissemination of expert forecasting and technologies, as well as institutions, discourse and visualization, and the transmission of expert knowledge. Researching experts is complicated because institutions are often subject to proprietary stakeholder relationships. Thus, we will engage in discussions about establishing protocols for data storage, sharing, and curation, building a framework to support open science and accessibility for future researchers while protecting confidentiality and security for proprietary stakeholders.

We plan to focus on the ethnographic research cycle as it relates to the organization of scientific, consultant, and financial work; the production, commodification and dissemination of expert forecasting and technologies; relationships of expertise to institutions, agenda setting, discourse and visualization; and transmission of expert knowledge, including the social life of ideas that define what counts as knowledge. For analytical purposes, we have separated these problems into four categories: (1) Assembling: data collection drawing on participant observation and apprenticeship methods with the aim of formulating an empirical characterization of internal practices of various forms of expert work; (2) Mobilizing: artefactual data collection consisting of gathering material and digital forms of expert knowledge and their deployment. Artefactual data are the end products of the internal practices of assembling, and these data represent integrated packages that capture expert activity of transforming information into knowledge purportedly exhibiting strategic value; (3) Performing: observation studies at events whereby expert work creates communities of interpretation around knowledge, placing emphasis on how different features of research and tools produced by expertise combine with real time interaction to define what counts as knowledge; (4) Curating: approaches to data management that aspire to create novel catalogues as well as forms of public attention and cross disciplinary access to the above data.

Please submit title and abstract of 250 words (max.) to [email protected] and s[email protected] by April 3, 2017.

Call for papers: States of anticipation

States of Anticipation: The Promise and Peril of Official Recognition

American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting
November 29-December 3, 2017; Washington. D.C.
Organizers: Vijayanka Nair (NYU) and Irina Levin (NYU)

This panel examines the lifeworlds of individuals waiting for tokens of state recognition—whether they be visas, work permits, passports, national IDs, or driver’s licenses. We ask: what are the hopes, anxieties, and rituals that shape these intervals of anticipation and the receipts, denials, or deferrals that follow? We invite papers that focus on the lives of people awaiting their new certifications of state recognition, adjusting to their recently formalized statuses, or making sense of their failure to be included. We probe how individuals imagine their positions within evolving regimes of recognition, and how they come to learn or understand what entitlements and restrictions new forms of acknowledgment engender. Scholars argue that identification and recognition are two sides of the same coin. They also emphasize that identification is often inseparable from questions of identity and morality. We therefore examine what movement between statuses comes to mean in an individual’s moral and material universe. Concomitantly, we interrogate the experience of being restricted to a lesser or informal status, or perhaps to no status at all. Lastly, we are interested in how people interact with the materiality or immateriality of tokens of recognition. What happens to older forms of identification when people acquire new ones? Do material documents continue to retain—or even gain—value in a digitalizing world? How do people with multiple passports or state IDs value or weigh IDs against each other? We are particularly keen on examining the lives of people caught between multiple state identification systems, both in intra- and inter-national contexts. Scholars of citizenship have highlighted the constitutive role identification papers can play in belonging, the impact of states’ withholding such recognition, and the growth of markets in “fake” documents. We build on these foundations to further interrogate how tokens of recognition shape individual lives: the weariness and jubilation that come with receiving recognition, the ways in which people assess their places in new communities, the manners in which the state comes to circumscribe everyday life.

Please send an abstract (250 words or less) by April 3:

Irina Levin, [email protected]

Vijayanka Nair, [email protected]

Call for papers: Times and temporalities

Policy Times and the Temporalities of Policy

American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting
November 29 – December 3; Washington, D.C.
Organizers: Noemi Lendvai, University of Bristol, UK, and Paul Stubbs, The Institute of Economics, Zagreb


Although it is widely recognized that ‘space’ and ‘time’ are actively enrolled and reassembled within policy, there has been much more focus on ‘space’ than ‘time’ with a significant literature addressing ‘new geographies of policy’ and the importance of ‘cross jurisdictional flows’ and ‘translations’ (Peck, 2001; Clarke et al, 2015). Peck and Theodore’s recent book ‘Fast Policy’ (2015) is an exception, exploring the rapid acceleration, time-space compression, and slick mobility of contemporary policy making processes, exploring both ‘participatory budgeting’ and ‘conditional cash transfers’. This is far from the whole story, however, suggesting the need for the study of what may appear as ‘fast and smooth’ policy to be complemented by the study of ‘slow and contested’ policy. Behind every example of supposedly intensified and instantaneous connectivity of policy nodes, there is a much more complex set of often competing ‘temporal imperatives’ (Costas and Grey, 2014) at work. This panel is looking for papers, conceptual and empirical, which explore the multiple, complex, and contradictory temporalities of policy, addressing how policies not only ‘pass through time’ but themselves re-order and re-constitute time (Oke, 2009). How are some of the ‘rhythms and ruptures’ (Coffey, 2004) of policy time manifested in practice? How do policy narratives seek to re-organise time and what is the power of ‘counter-hegemonic’ temporalities in specific contexts? How do the different temporalities of, inter alia, policy consultants, policy makers, street level bureaucrats and service users imapct on the social life of policy? Can a ‘politics of the slow’ (Mountz et al, 2015) be complemented by a deliberate attention to ‘slow policy’?        


Clarke, J. et al (2015) Making Policy Move: towards a politics of translation and assemblage, Bristol: Policy Press

Coffey A. (2004) Reconceptualising Social Policy, Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Costas, J. and C. Grey (2014) ‘The Temporality of Power and the Power of Temporality: imaginary future selves in professional service firms’, Organization Studies 35(6): 909-937.

Mountz, A. et al (2015) ‘For Slow Scholarship: a feminist politics of resistance through collective action in the neoliberal university’, ACME: an international ejournal for critical geographies 14(4)

Oke, N. (2009) ‘Globalizing Time and Space: temporal and spatial considerations in discourses of globalization’, International Polictical Sociology 3(3): 310 – 326.

Peck, J. and N. Theodore (2015) Fast Policy: experimental statecraft at the thresholds of neoliberalism, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 

Please submit title and abstract of no more than 250 words to [email protected] by 3 April 2017.

Call for papers: Refugee management

Keeping the Gate: Refugee Management as Statemaking in a Post-Sovereign Era
American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting
November 29 – December 3, 2017. Washington, D.C.

The assumption in anthropology for the past few decades has been that refugees challenge “the national order of things”; however, these arguments emerged amidst debates in anthropology and elsewhere about whether the nation-state in a global era would remain the predominant modality of social, political and economic organization, or would cease to exist. At present it seems clear that nation-states are not going anywhere, even as their role in the world is far more insecure, yielding new strategies of governance and approaches to statemaking, and new approaches to the care and control of refugees. It is now broadly understood that the nation-state is a “node in a network,” in which sovereignty is weakened and insecure.

One manifestation of this newly anxious sovereignty are efforts to manage the flows of people across borders, particularly refugees. It has been argued that building walls and/or more stringently guarding the gate at entry points to national space (for example through strict and punitive immigration and border control tactics) is a response to weakened national sovereignty. However, while some countries build or reinforce both physical and metaphorical walls to keep out mobile populations such as refugees, other countries seem to embrace, and capitalize on, the flows inherent in the post-sovereign world. For example, while Kenya builds a wall along the Somali border and threatens to close its largest refugee camp in the name of maintaining national security, in neighboring Ethiopia, officials state that refugees are an economic and political asset and are radically revamping their refugee policies such that refugee camps may eventually no longer be necessary.

This panel explores how what appear to be radically divergent dynamics are manifestations of the same phenomenon – attempts by states to govern under this new post-sovereign paradigm. Frederick Cooper’s concept of the gatekeeper state is useful to explain how states seek to shore up their power to govern through channeling the flow of material and symbolic resources across borders. In its original conceptualization, the “gatekeeper state” was oriented toward capturing rents from valuable goods that pass through the state. In a global era, fluidity arguably produces opportunities for states that are adept at managing flows, but also increases anxieties. We invite papers that consider the ways in which emergent forms of gatekeeping as statecraft take shape through the care and control, expulsion and containment, welcome and deterrence, of refugee populations. What national, regional, and global politics emerge as states manage the flows of people across borders, in some cases selectively closing gates and building better walls, and in others creating new more open portals?  How might welcoming or deterring refugees become a means for states to govern both within and across borders, influence regional relationships, and gain leverage in international spheres?

Through comparing papers across case studies, we hope to illuminate the ways in which both maintaining rigid borders which guard against flows of “undesirable” people, and encouraging flows across borders are responses to the insecurities of the post-sovereign era, resulting in profoundly new forms of statecraft.

Please send a 250 word abstract to Jennifer Riggan at [email protected] and Amanda Poole at [email protected] by Friday March 31.

Call for papers: Corporation and culture

The Corporation and the Culture
AAA 2017, Washington D.C., November 29-December 3
Organizer: Gwendolyn Gordon (Wharton)

The success of the business corporation is partially dependent upon narrations of the case for its existing as a net social good. Sometimes these narratives will be arguments respecting the boundaries—and accountability—of the corporation (Sawyer 2006, Kirsch 2014, Welker 2014); sometimes these will be stories put forth by scholars, such as the idea of the corporation as merely a “nexus of contracts” (Jensen and Meckling 1976, Easterbrook and Fischel 1996). At other times, shifts in narrative may go to the legitimation of Corporate Social Responsibility (Humphreys and Brown 2008; Haack et al. 2012; Rajak 2011a, Rajak 2011b) or the increased uptake of alternate corporate forms, such as the benefit corporation. Purnima Bose and Laura Lyons (2010) have described the way that rhetorics of corporate good began to wear thin at the end of last decade. But recent work (e.g., Pollman 2011, Orts 2013, Pollman and Blair 2015) has highlighted the ways that narratives of corporate social good have always shifted and changed in the face of societal changes, including changes to public perception, business regulation, and the importance of the corporate form. In light of new support for the long-voiced (Blair and Stout 1999; Ireland 1999) yet still unconventional notion that profit is not the only legitimate purpose for a for-profit business corporation (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores; see also Johnson and Millon 2014), the papers in this panel ask: now that anthropologists have begun looking at the inner workings of corporations (Aiello and Brooks 2011, Conley and Richland 2014), now that we have begun an agnostic anthropology of corporations (Benson and Kirsch 2010, Aiello and Brooks 2011, Welker 2015), what responses do anthropologists have in the face of a newly invigorated narrative of corporate social good which blooms from ideas of the corporation as natural expression of cultural, economic, and even religious norms of the people associated with it?

Please submit title and abstract of 250 words or less to [email protected] by March 31.

Key references can be reviewed below:

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Call for papers: Anthropology of whistleblowing

Beyond Snowden: The Anthropology of Whistleblowing
American Anthropological Association Annual Meetings, Washington, DC, Nov. 29-Dec. 3
Organizers: Steven Sampson, Lund Univ., Sweden and Cris Shore, Univ. of  Auckland

Whistleblowing, exposing confidential, secret or illegal practices in firms, organizations and public authorities, has been viewed as a heroic act on the part of individuals who risk their jobs and even legal prosecution to expose their employers. Seen from the organization’s perspective, the whistleblower is a disloyal employee, who should have gone through proper channels to reveal ethical or legal shortcomings instead of going public. Since employees in modern workplaces are now more flexible and less loyal, since we are encouraged to promote greater transparency and disclosure in all aspects of business and government administration, and with social media exposure a few clicks away, the potential and risks posed by whistleblowers have increased exponentially. Faced with the whistleblowing threat and pressure to institutionalize whistleblowing procedures, firms, organizations and governments can choose to become more transparent, but they can also retaliate against whistleblowers with legal measures or worse. NGOs and government agencies can now also offer whistleblowers legal support against retaliation or even financial rewards. In an era of secrecy and surveillance, of disclosure and exposure, the era of Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Wikileaks and the Panama Papers, this panel proposes an anthropology of whistleblowing. Papers on whistleblowing policies, practices, discourses, implications and scandals, including retaliation, protection, and organizational disloyalty are welcome.

Please send an abstract to:

Steven Sampson, Lund Univ. at [email protected] and Cris Shore, Univ. Auckland at  [email protected]

Call for papers: Media and public trust

The Media: Its Role in the Building and Derailing of Public Institutions and Public Trust
AAA 2017, Washington D.C., November 29-December 3
Organizer:  Maria-Luisa Achino-Loeb  (New York University)

This session is committed to an in depth, clear-eyed, non-partisan look at Media’s role in the creation and dissemination of Public Knowledge and to suggesting parameters for Anthropological intervention.

Media ‘s power in framing public consciousness is undisputed; and occasionally feared.  Journalists are singled out for assassination; through single images seared into our memory, they document nodal moments  –lift-off of the last helicopter from Vietnam, a falling Berlin Wall, a small child washed ashore by the Mediterranean.  In its “framing” role, the Media partakes in an ongoing fabrication of reality.  From iconic Anchors of News to purveyors of Alternate Facts the Media has been a loud presence in our midst and our silent interlocutor in the creation of reportable information, hence of public knowledge.

This begs the questions of legitimacy and of Anthropology’s role in helping to disentangle the manipulation of information from the unavoidable limits of “framing.”  Put differently, on the heels of Brexit and Trumpism, there is a need to delineate the parameters of facticity. Our working assumption is that there exists a central problem stemming from the internal contradictions of the Media’s role and of its self-interest.  These contradictions fumble around what is printable or viewable at any one time.  In so doing, they channel what information reaches the wider public and end-up determining the parameters of Public Knowledge, with cascading effects on the strength of Public Trust and Institutions.

Anthropology can help by directing its focus on a comparative analysis of the Media and its current and historical intersection with Anthropology. We will ask a number of questions:  What considerations direct the privileging of particular issues and silence others?  Under what conditions can such privileging be de-linked from the power structures in which the Media is embedded?  To what extent has our concern with marking Anthropology’s professional distinction aided and abetted this silencing process?

Please submit a title and 250 word abstract by March 25, 2017 to Maria-Luisa Achino-Loeb  ([email protected])