Call for papers (AAA): Possibilities of care

Dear colleagues,

We are seeking abstract submissions for the following proposed panel at the 2018 AAA meeting in San Jose, CA. Please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words to Fayana Richards ([email protected]) and Gabriela Morales ([email protected]) by April 3, 2018.

Possibilities of Care: Social and Political Enactments of the Good Life
Organizers: Fayana Richards (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) and Gabriela Morales (Scripps College)
Discussant: Felicity Aulino (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

What does it mean to strive for a “good life” through the practice of care? How might the social relations involved in care enact particular aspirational, moral, and political projects? This panel places the study of care in conversation with recent calls in anthropology to move past the discipline’s reliance on narratives of suffering and attend to how people enact “the good” (Chua 2014; Ortner 2016; Robbins 2013; Fischer 2014; Singh 2015). We build on Cheryl Mattingly’s argument that “the good life for humans is not merely about surviving but also about flourishing” (2014: 9) — and see care as central to intertwined questions of morality and well-being. We find that care creates productive possibilities and challenges what the good life looks like for individuals, including in contexts of precarity.

This panel considers diverse ways that people consider life to be “good,” “qualified,” or “ethical” — and how people enact (or at lease aspire to) these forms of life through acts and structures of care. We are especially interested in submissions that examine alternative understandings of “the good” as people live with, resist, or refuse hegemonic forces. Recent attention to morality in anthropology (Das 2007; Fassin 2012; Keane 2015; Lambek 2010; Zigon and Throop 2014) has raised productive questions about people engage with “the good” in ordinary practice. Building on these approaches, we consider how care enacts specific ideas about life for oneself and for others. We understand social ideas of “the good” to have complex implications for care; they may serve as the basis for forms of violence and domination (Mulla 2014; Stevenson 2014) but also potentially emerge as sites for generating new forms of living in precarious circumstances (Han 2012; Mattingly 2010; 2014). Yet even as we foreground “the good,” we seek to move beyond the idea that care necessarily arises from internal conviction and ask what other social configurations might shape the work of care (Aulino 2016). We ultimately consider whether certain relations of care might create possibilities for other kinds of life and other kinds of politics.

We invite submissions that consider how paradigms and practices of care enact moral and aspirational projects. Potential areas of inquiry include (but are not limited to):
How do social understandings of the moral good and/or well-being shape practices of care?
How does care enact forms of self-fashioning, becoming, and/or relating to others (cf. Mattingly 2014)?
How does care reflect the desire for a particular kind of life — or, potentially, a particular kind of death (cf. Desjarlais 2016; Garcia 2010; Stevenson 2014)?
Whose care, or what forms of caring, is socially valued or devalued (cf. Glenn 2010)?
How does caring for others articulate efforts to enact, live with, resist, or refuse conditions of oppression?
How might care be a site of anti-politics (Ticktin 2011) or, alternatively, for creating new political possibilities (e.g. Black Lives Matter, #MeToo movement)?

Aulino, F. (2016). Rituals of care for the elderly in northern Thailand: Merit, morality, and the everyday of long‐term care. American Ethnologist, 43(1), 91-102.
Chua, J. L. (2014). In pursuit of the good life: aspiration and suicide in globalizing south India. Univ of California Press.
Das, V. (2007). Life and Words: Violence and the Descent into the Ordinary. Univ of California Press.
Desjarlais, R. (2016). Subject to death: Life and Loss in a Buddhist world. University of Chicago Press.
Fassin, D.  (Ed.). (2012). A companion to moral anthropology. John Wiley & Sons.
Fischer, E. F. (2014). The good life: aspiration, dignity, and the anthropology of wellbeing. Stanford University Press.
Garcia, A. (2010). The pastoral clinic: Addiction and dispossession along the Rio Grande. Univ of California Press.
Glenn, E. N. (2010). Forced to care: Coercion and caregiving in America. Harvard University Press.
Keane, W. (2015). Ethical life: Its natural and social histories. Princeton University Press.
Lambek, M. (Ed.). (2010). Ordinary ethics: Anthropology, language, and action. Fordham Univ Press.
Mattingly, C. (2010). The paradox of hope: Journeys through a clinical borderland. Univ of California Press.
—- (2014). Moral laboratories: Family peril and the struggle for a good life. Univ of California Press.
Mulla, S. (2014). The violence of care: Rape victims, forensic nurses, and sexual assault intervention. NYU Press.
Ortner, S. B. (2016). Dark anthropology and its others: Theory since the eighties. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 6(1), 47-73.
Robbins, J. (2013). Beyond the suffering subject: toward an anthropology of the good. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 19(3), 447-462.
Singh, B. (2015). Poverty and the quest for life: Spiritual and material striving in rural India. University of Chicago Press.
Stevenson, L. (2014). Life beside itself: Imagining care in the Canadian Arctic. Univ of California Press.
Ticktin, M. I. (2011). Casualties of care: immigration and the politics of humanitarianism in France. Univ of California Press.
Zigon, J., & Throop, C. J. (2014). Moral experience: introduction. Ethos, 42(1), 1-15.