The CASCA 2013 organising committee has extended the deadline for submitting paper and session proposals to Sunday March 17, 2013. Please send in your proposals soon.
The 2013 CASCA conference calls upon anthropologists to reflect upon how their research engages the notion of the record, broadly conceived. By record, we refer to the diverse sounds, marks, objects and images that are produced and used by individuals and groups to tell their stories and give their accounts of the world. The notion of the record as both material object and social practise evokes questions that transect cultural, artistic, social, political and economic activities.
The past decade has seen unprecedented widespread collective action and awareness particularly about the intersections of local and global economies, environmental harm, private lives and corporate agendas. Central to this public action and its impact are the deployment of new and old forms of records and record-making --documents, images, audio, cell phone texts, surveillance photos, government and corporate policies, testimonies, and Tweets-- through which accounts of the world are being critiqued, re-told and created. Demanding transparency and accountability in record-keeping, challenging those who control the meanings of records, and creating novel forms of records to tell their stories, people around the globe are mobilizing for change. Particularly attuned to change and diversity in both local and global contexts, anthropologists are especially well positioned to offer compelling analyses and commentary on these instances of social unrest and cultural transformation, and the central place of record-keeping in this process. What are anthropologists saying about this global wave of protests and the records being contested and created by this collective action? How can anthropology contribute productively to public debates and discourses about these emerging forms of activism? How are artists, scholars from other disciplines, and community groups engaging the anthropological record in critical knowledge making practices? What are the collaborative relationships anthropologists and others are engaging in to re-visit existing records or to create them anew? How is the analysis of records and record-making a rich point of entry into understanding and theorizing human practice?
While CASCA 2013 aims to stimulate discussions and critical reflections on the theme of unsettling records, presentations that fall outside of the proposed theme will also be considered.
The Keynote Speaker is Dr. Annelise Riles, Professor of Anthropology and Jack G. Clarke '52 Professor of Far East Legal Studies at the Cornell University Law School. Dr. Riles is also Director, Clarke Program in East Asian Law and Culture. Her work focuses on the transnational dimensions of laws, markets and culture. She is the author of five books and many peer reviewed articles. Her most recent book, Collateral Knowledge: Legal Reasoning in the Global Financial Markets (Chicago Press 2011), is based on ten years of fieldwork among regulators and lawyers in the global derivatives markets. Her first book, The Network Inside Out, won the American Society of International Law's Certificate of Merit for 2000-2002. Her book, Documents: Artifacts of Modern Knowledge, brings together lawyers, anthropologists, sociologists and historians of science. Professor Riles has conducted legal and anthropological research in China, Japan and the Pacific. She also writes about financial markets regulation on her blog, http://blogs.cornell.edu/collateralknowledge/
As I argued in Documents: Artifacts of Modern Knowledge (2006), documents have a special status, as ethnographic objects, because of the way they collapse the distance between the subject and object of analysis since ethnography is inherently also a documentary act. Yet the introductory essay to that volume ended its reflection on the epistemological and methodological predicaments and possibilities inherent in documents, as ethnographic objects/methods in a strange place: with the imperative of collaboration, as a new modality of ethnographic work beyond documentation, representation and comparison.
At first, collaboration sounds like something of a let-down: on the one hand, anthropologists have always been collaborating with their interlocutors in the production of ethnographic knowledge. On the other hand, so many disciplines we might wish to differentiate from our own--from management theory to political activism--celebrate collaboration as a methodology. Like happiness, or healthiness, collaboration would seem to be something no one is really against, but about which very little can be said. Why and how would collaboration become anything specifically meaningful, let alone ethical, for the ethnographer? And yet what to make of the recent surge of new kinds of ethnographic collaborations--self-conscious efforts at innovation in ethnographic method in which, precisely, the subject and object, method and artifact of ethnography are collapsed? What is intriguing is that these collaborative projects have begun to appear precisely in those areas of research in which anthropologists find themselves confronting others' documentary practices: the sciences, legal studies, new media.
This lecture will theorize the question of documentary collaboration, as a particular kind of ethnographic present, with particular emphasis on a Pacific Rim-focused project I am coordinating, known as Meridian 180. Through the prism of collaboration, I will revisit why the anthropology of the document represented a cusp in the contemporary history of the discipline and ask what we have since become.
And the contact email for the co-chairs or questions about the conference is: CASCALOC@UVIC.CA
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