Call for papers: Educational policy

PROPOSED PANEL FOR AAA Meetings in Minneapolis, November 16-20 2016

The Anthropology of Educational Achievement Disparity Policy

In the United States we face achievement gaps in education in many states between minority and non-minority populations. Despite having the highest national average high-school achievement as measured by College Entrance Exams. Minnesota, and especially the Twin Cities suffers from the largest disparity between minority and non-minority populations in terms of high school graduation rates and overall achievement. This has caused great consternation for State and local officials who are trying to address this social problem with great seriousness. Despite these efforts, the disparities remain. Minnesota is not the only state with this problem. This proposed panel would compare anthropological approaches to understanding policy decisions regarding this problem. An official from the State Department of Education will participate on this panel.

If you are interested in participating, please send a brief description of your research interests to William O. Beeman <[email protected]>. If there is enough interest we will submit this as a regular panel or a roundtable depending on response. Participants may either make a paper presentation or participate in a roundtable, but not both.

William O. Beeman, Professor and Chair
Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota

Call for participants: Welfare capitalism

AAA 2016 (Minneapolis) call for participants:

Anthropology and the Worlds of Welfare Capitalism (Roundtable)
Organizer: Kelly McKowen, Princeton University, ([email protected])

More than a quarter century since its publication, Gøsta Esping-Andersen’s seminal work on the welfare state, The Three Worlds of the Welfare Capitalism, continues to stimulate lively debate and productive research on the qualitative differences between different institutional regimes of social policy. Anthropology has in large part been absent from this interdisciplinary exchange. Recent anthropological scholarship, however, has engaged directly and creatively with 21st century systems of social provision, catalyzing new lines of inquiry that link questions of welfare and governance with those of citizenship, morality, identity, belonging, distribution, care, dependency, labor, reciprocity, and discipline. From these questions emerges the discernible outline of an inchoate anthropological perspective on the worlds of welfare capitalism, as well as a distinctive mode of investigating contemporary welfare states characterized by ethnographic sensitivity to practice, power, experience, and meaning.

Despite dire warnings from various corners, the contemporaneous eras of neoliberalism and globalization have not witnessed the withering away of the welfare state. Rather, around the world, ties between the individual, family, state, and labor market have been reconfigured in response to new ideological currents, needs, risks, and interests. These emergent worlds of welfare capitalism, converging and diverging from each other in different ways, constitute a productive “field” for anthropological scholarship moving forward. Setting an agenda for the exploration of this field means considering a host of questions.. These include: in the midst of privatization and neoliberal reform, where is the responsibility for the maintenance of individual and social welfare situated? How does social policy reflect—and occasion—the revaluation and redefinition of labor? What kinds of people and issues are conjured and erased by categories enshrined in policy? How do new benefit schemes and services (re)distribute precarity and dependency among various actors? To what extent do popular policy tools, such as conditional cash transfers, reshape networks of exchange and debt? How are local knowledges pertaining to the navigation of public and private welfare institutions stored, transmitted, and used? What role can ethnography play in illuminating the needs, risks, and challenges faced by different groups? How are intensified flows of people, capital, and resources remaking relations between the individual, the state, and the labor market in different local contexts?

This roundtable invites participants that engage with these and other questions pertaining to how systems of social provision shape—and are shaped by—the sociocultural and political dimensions of evolving capitalist economies. With a view to both growing anthropology’s areas of inquiry and contributing fresh insight to comparative welfare state studies, it aims to set an agenda for future anthropological scholarship and further clarify the position of the anthropology of welfare capitalism within a broader interdisciplinary division of labor.

If you are interested in participating in this roundtable, please submit a short description (of no more than 250 words) detailing your research and interests to Kelly McKowen ([email protected]) by April 3. Notifications will go out no later than April 5. Please note: according to AAA rules, conference attendees can either participate in a roundtable or present a paper as part of a panel—but not both!

Kelly McKowen
PhD Candidate, Anthropology
Princeton University
[email protected]

Call for papers: Refugee crisis and camps


For the AAA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, November 2016

This panel examines the lived realities within the space of the refugee camp. Through the analytics of time and endurance, this panel thinks through how camp spaces are intended to be temporary in principle, but turn out to be permanent in practice. The average life of a refugee camp spans multiple generations. Camps are places in which bodies, buildings, livelihoods, and futures are confined, and while they are meant to last for a limited period of time, they often endure indefinitely.

Despite public culture’s recent characterization of the stream of Middle Eastern refugees, especially Syrians, into Europe as a novel crisis, the majority of the world’s refugees live in protracted contexts of forced migration. Understanding the global circuits of refugee stagnation and immobility reframes current assumptions about mass migration into Europe, and reveals the stakes of enduring displacement for decades. Most live in camps where they are unable to move anywhere, remain immobilized, and wait at the mercy of many factors that determine their abilities to find a permanent home. Waiting becomes an overwhelming, dominating task in the everyday, and a form of labor that requires stamina, will, and patience. This panel considers how refugees in encampment narrate the ways they wait, endure, and reconcile long periods of time. In camps and other such contexts, “the making do of now” supersedes the way that they envision the futures and dreams of their life trajectories.

Time emerges as a pivotal dimension in framing how refugees see and understand statelessness across a spectrum of contexts and historical times. This panel seeks papers that ethnographically explore the following types of questions: How does living in a temporary, yet permanent space affect the way camp residents experience time? What forms do waiting take, how do refugees endure these protracted periods, are there measures that make it easier? How does time stagnate in prolonged crises? How does it surge? How does time become compressed and expanded within the space of refugee camps?

Please send 250 word abstracts to Emily Lynch (PhD, Franklin & Marshall College) [email protected] and Marnie Thomson (PhD Candidate, University of Colorado, Boulder) [email protected] by April 1.

Call for papers: Making policy implementation work

Call for Papers: AAA 2016 (Minneapolis)

Making It Work: Accident, Evidence, and Discovery in the Ethnography of Policy Implementation

Organizers: Jessica Mulligan ([email protected]), Providence College Rebecca Peters ([email protected]), Syracuse University

“Policy” is often taken to be the sole purview of governments and the politically powerful: synonymous, in popular usage, with the highest levels of elite decision-making. The anthropology of policy, however, has productively expanded this definition far beyond governmental decision-making to recognize the roles of multiple “policy-relevant actors” including those involved in policy implementation and evaluation, the production of knowledge on and for policy, and the experiences of those who are the “targets” of policy (Yanow 2011). Studying policy in this interpretive manner has highlighted how it is a social site of contestation over political subjectivity and responsibility: an arena in which relationships between individuals, groups, and institutions are negotiated. Seeing policy in this way calls for anthropologists to study not only the social elites who “make policy” but the administrators, contractors, and ordinary people who “make policy work” through accident or discovery in daily life.

This panel calls for ethnographic studies of those who are tasked to make policy work: agents of implementation from across diverse social settings and policy sectors (e.g., health care, education, policing and security, international development, conservation and environment, etc.).

Implementation is a site of bureaucratic indifference, structural violence and entropy (Gupta 2012), but also of tremendous creativity in governing social life. Contributions to this panel might consider a wide variety of ethnographic contexts including: “street-level bureaucrats” (Lipsky 1980) working inside government administrations; non-governmental organizations delivering social services; private corporations; or non-profits hired to carry out government contracts. Papers might consider what “evidence” implementation agents have access to, or produce, about the policies they are tasked to put into place. Questions of precarity, vulnerability, perceptions or accusations of corruption, improvisation and decision-making amid constraint, could also come to the fore. We seek studies that help us understand the experience of implementation and that look critically at how making policy work at the frontlines transforms and reinvents elite policy projects.

If interested, please send abstracts of 250 words, along with paper title and keywords, to [email protected] and [email protected] by April 4th.

Call for papers: Color politics

Session proposal for AAA Meeting in Minneapolis


Organizers: Renita Thedvall, Stockholm University ([email protected]) and Hege Høyer Leivestad ([email protected]) Stockholm University. Discussant: Krisztina Fehérváry, Associate Professor, University of MichiganColors come to matter in many aspects of everyday life. Colors evoke emotions and set off affective reactions, they can be both attractive and offensive. The anthropology of colors has a long tradition in linguistic anthropology, researching perception, cognition and semantics. But as Michael Taussig importantly points out, color also embeds and reveals complex political histories where it comes across “more a presence than a sign, more a force than a code”.

In this session, we want explore the semiotic and qualitative properties of colors and the role of the qualitative experience of color in social life in relation to agency and power. This means paying attention to the multiplex political forces that colors both reveal and produce. Colors provide a fruitful entrance point to explore issues such as protest and revolution, but color also compose commanding elements of apparently mundane evaluative bureaucratic practices. Féherváry (2013) furthermore reminds us of how also the aesthetics of everyday experience is heavily politicized. Her intricate observations of the role of color in Eastern European postwar modernist architecture and design, invites us to further scrutinize the operations of colors in clothing, furnishing, planning and consumption.

By turning our attention to the agency of color, we draw on a variety of ethnographic settings to shed theoretical light on its operations and power. This session thus inquiries into the workings of colors in organizations, markets, politics and everyday life. From policy and organizations, such as the management work in Swedish public preschools, to issues of domesticity and class in the marketing of mobile dwellings. The session will provide a space for participants to discuss and investigate colors’ agentive powers, and how they are related to – for example – class, gender and national identities. What roles do colors play in policy practices, in planning processes, in marketing strategies or in the consumption of commodities? What types of images do colors produce and what kinds of organizational, emotional and material processes do they set in motion?

Please send abstracts ASAP or by April 1 to [email protected]

Job opening: Lecturer including political anthropology

Lecturer position at UC Riverside

The Department of Anthropology at the University of California Riverside, invites applications for one full-time lecturer in cultural anthropology with potential for security of employment (PSOE). Appointment as a lecturer with PSOE requires evidence of outstanding teaching, professional achievement, and service to the academic community and/or public. A lecturer with PSOE is a member of the academic senate and will be expected to teach six quarter classes per year. Applicants are expected to have a demonstrated commitment to high-quality and innovative teaching, and must have a Ph.D. by the start of appointment on June 30, 2016. We are particularly interested in candidates with a proven record of teaching excellence beyond any experience they may have as teaching assistants. Research topics and regions are open; preference will be given to candidates who can teach Political Anthropology.

Review of the applications will begin April 18, 2016, and will continue until the position is filled.

Full details are available at

Derick A. Fay, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology
University of California, Riverside, USA

Call for papers: Moral capitalism



Within a context of the Enron scandal, the 2008 financial crisis and the recent Volkswagen emissions scandal, we have seen renewed calls for both more government regulation of the private sector and more ethical behavior within it. While governments have now increased their surveillance and prosecutions for business irregularities through anti-corruption and whistleblowing schemes, private firms themselves have realized the importance of ethics and social responsibility. Either for moral renewal or to protect against prosecution, firms have developed or revitalized their codes of ethical conduct. They have formed new ethics-oriented policies and procedures, adopted new standards for compliance, instituted ethical training for managers and employees, and introduced an emphasis on not just following the law but ‘doing the right thing’ (i.e., going beyond the letter or the law to seek an ethical outcome). Ethics and compliance policies have now become part of the private sector self-understanding, a tool for enhancing the brand and profitability and a means of avoiding scandal. As a result of these developments, Ethics and Compliance is now a business in itself, with its own training programs, ethics consulting firms, risk management courses and certification regimes. This focus on ethics and morality in the private sector has largely been avoided or overlooked by the recent emphasis on ‘Moral Anthropology’ within our field. In some cases, the turn to business ethics is viewed as a public relations maneuver in a neoliberal world.

The proposed panel will explore whether the new emphasis on morality, ethics and social responsibility in businesses and public organizations is just another public relations move, or whether something more profound is taking place, an “ethical turn” in organizations. If this may be so, how would we know and how would we study a possible ethical turn? In what way should anthropologists of policy examine the various policies and procedures enacted within the private and public sectors? How do we understand, much less critique, the ethical discourse and practices of firms which are in ruthless competition with each other? Is business ethics somehow different than ethics as applied to public organizations? This panel seeks papers on morality and ethics in the private sector and/or organizations, including topics such as business ethics, codes of conduct, ethical policies and practices in firms, dilemmas of ethics and compliance officers, anti-bribery and anticorruption, moral/ethical scandals in the private sector, corporate social responsibility, ethics and compliance, or related topics. Case studies on the private or public sectors, conceptual papers or methodological reflections are welcome. We are planning to invite a business ethics practitioner as a discussant. Please send abstracts ASAP or by April 5th to Steven Sampson, Lund Univ, Sweden ([email protected])

Call for papers: Insfrastructure and/as ethics

Annual Meeting for the American Anthropological Association (2016) November 16-20, 2016 Minneapolis, MN

CFP: Infrastructure and/as Ethics

We invite ethnographically-rooted papers that discuss the entanglements of infrastructure and ethics and, in fact, infrastructure as ethics. A geographic turn in anthropology and allied disciplines (Harvey 2005, Larkin 2008) has arisen as a means by which to address questions of how institutions work in their material and symbolic dimensions. This has obvious links to ruin/crisis/precarity/apocalypse. From the refugee crisis to anthropogenic climate change to the political economic detritus of global capitalism, the spatialization of value offers a way to  apprehend vulnerability, and particularly the effects on the marginalized. Similarly, an attention to ethics engages how value is formed, ranging from labor theories of value to forms of value that emanate from self-fashioning, but also asks how it is that the good and the desirable are inscribed, measured, cultivated. Perhaps exacerbated by anthropocenic pressures, matters of political ecology are resurgent as activists, scholars, politicians, and the general public debate how to envision society’s ideal relationship to nature (with all the preceding words understood to be highly contested, most especially “to”). Advances in medical testing, cloning, life/death boundaries, articulate biopolitical concerns of sovereignty as post-human ethics. Taking up the critique offered by 19th century resistance actions of Luddite sabotage, we propose thinking of infrastructure + ethics as a way to move beyond the reification of states, corporations, processes.

The strength of ethnography is to attend to how people make their lives in its and their complexities. Thus we are interested in papers that trace assemblages and hybridities. Other potential sites for the productive intersection of built environment and cosmological frameworks are protest movements on the ground, like those against oil and gas pipelines. By the same token, energy and transportation elites who construct supply chains highlight a renewed urgency to study up. And one important intervention we draw from legal studies in  Iberian empires is that infrastructure does more than hold information; rather, “lettered cities” illustrate how knowledge is infrastructure and, hence, we also beckon papers that rethink map-making. For our panel at the 2016 meeting of the AAAs, we welcome papers that take up themes of the co-construction of infrastructure and ethics.

If interested, please send a 250-word abstract to [email protected] by Saturday, April 2 2016.

Christine Folch, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology
Co-director Global Brazil Lab, Franklin Humanities Institute
Duke University
919.664.4170 (o) 347.688.2890 (c)
[email protected]

Call for papers: Energy and infrastructure in Europe

Call for Papers: AAA in Minneapolis

Power and Integration: the Politics of Energy and Infrastructure in Europe

Faced with Cold War geopolitics and geoeconomics in the aftermath of the World War II, greater integration in Europe found embodiment in the coming together of the German steel and French coal industries. Today, Cold War politics is arguably no longer with us, and the project of bringing together peoples and states in Europe is plagued by recurring, interconnected crises of capital accumulation and distribution, political legitimacy, and environmental sustainability. Adding a new challenge to the EU project, political and economic actors in the wider region rediscover the legacy and blueprints of regionalism by means of integrating energy, transport and telecommunications infrastructures—a programmatic idea with material manifestations that surely precede the founding of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951, the predecessor of the EU. Bringing together anthropologists and ethnographers of energy and infrastructures working on an area broadly conceived from the Iberian Peninsula to the east of the Caspian Sea and from the Sahara Desert to the North Sea, this panel explores the role that energy and related infrastructures play in the “post-carbon” age of advanced integration between Europe and its peripheries, as well as within these regions.

Currently undergoing an energy and/or infrastructural turn, anthropologists are at a privileged position to discuss the prospects, or foreclosings, that are offered by old and new European networks of energy and infrastructures. At a time when fossil fuel consumption and climate change present unprecedented challenges for decision-makers, planners, and citizens, we invite scholars and students of energy and infrastructures working on Europe to join us for a rethinking of the current so-called energy transitioning in Europe. We will collectively endeavor to assess whether bridges, canals, tunnels, rail- and motor-ways, pipelines, fiber optic cables, nuclear and fossil fuel power plants, solar, wind and biofuel farms in operation or under construction continue to have their promissory capacity to bring people, their polities, economies and cultures together and foster cooperation and solidarity, or whether they set them sail apart towards unbridgeable distances in and around this region. Our aim with this panel is to discuss through ethnographic means recent developments in the areas of European energy and infrastructures pertaining to a vast spectrum of practices from service provisioning, to policymaking as they unfold in diverse places at different scales of governance and economy, while also welcoming historical engagements with these topics that may help to shed light on contemporary processes. We are especially interested in ethnographic accounts that discuss counter practices by citizens and collectives of building their alternative energy and infrastructural lives and futures, which may at times be subversive to state-sanctioned energy and infrastructural integration.

Those interested in joining us at the 115th AAA Annual Meeting (Nov 16-20, Minneapolis, MN), should please send an abstract to Bilge Firat ([email protected]) and Jaume Franquesa ([email protected]) no later than March 27.