Events by the
Anthropology and Social Movements Network
Fourth Politcal Imagination Laboratory
“Utopias of Sustainability - The Sustainability of Utopias”
University of Perugia, 30 September – 01 October 2022
DEADLINE: 30 MARCH 2022
What visions animate contemporary activism? How to uncover those utopian aspirations, strategic and/or ideological horizons that too often pass implicitly, silently or invisibly? Our “Political Imagination Laboratory” aims to interrogate the shifting political imagination of contemporary social movements and experimental forms of activism. We invite social scientists, filmmakers and activists to submit papers or visual projects (completed documentaries or works in progress). Proposed presentations should engage with ethnography and/or fieldwork related to different forms of social movement research that address the imagination of contemporary activism around the world.
The fourth Political Imagination Laboratory core theme will be “Utopias of Sustainability - The Sustainability of Utopias”. As utopias of a better world appear increasingly as ephemeral, precarious and fragile, concepts related to sustainability, the environment and rurality seem at the forefront of contemporary impulses for social change. Examples include experiments with self-production, new forms of horizontal cooperation, new understandings of rural-urban and nature-culture relations, as well as activism against mega-projects around the world.
While social scientists around the world have appreciated these forms of activism as prefigurative for broader social change, others underline how similar utopian impulses can easily be appropriated by neoliberal logics, e.g., propagated by consulting as management goal and cited by companies as advertising slogan. In particular, some voices interrogate the degree to which sustainability fits into an ethos of post-material renunciation. We ask: Which more or less visible utopian impulses haunt contemporary forms of activism? How are, for example, concepts like sustainability, rurality and nature employed by different actors? To which ideologies and/or utopias are these connected? In which context is and is not sustainability, rurality or ecology invoked? How can discourses and practices of sustainability, rurality, ecology and similar concepts be made visible by ethnographers?
We invite both papers and visual projects (completed documentaries or projects in progress).
PAPER PRESENTATIONS: Please submit your abstract (max. 300 words) for a paper of about 20 minutes. VISUAL PROJECTS: Please submit your audio-visual project (completed documentaries or works in progress) with a short description (max. 300 words). In order to stimulate debate, videos of ca. 30 minutes will be preferred; for longer completed documentaries, a short version accompanied by a presentation would be more adequate. Please upload your video to a cloud drive with the link. The abstract should also include your academic affiliation and role.
Please send your contribution to: info(at)peasantproject.org.
The ”Lab” will alternate paper presentations with film screenings, key-note lectures and in-depth discussion workshops, emphasizing horizontal discussions and personal interactions. The event is planned as an in-person meeting, but we will closely monitor the situation. If your presentation is accepted, we will offer you two nights of accommodation free-of-charge and some meals will also be covered. However, we cannot reimburse travel expenses. Further information on past editions can be found here.
Notification of accepted presentations: 30th July 2
3rd Political Imagination Laboratory: 'What Can and Can't Be Said: Fieldwork as Witnessing?' was taking place 06-07 December 2019, University of Perugia, Italy.
The third Political Imagination Laboratory invited those who carry out fieldwork related to questions of social justice and/or activism (anthropologists, filmmakers, social scientists) to focus on methodological and ontological aspects of their research: What can be understood? What not? What can be said? What not? When should we intervene?
The team of the “Peasant Activism Project”, in cooperation with the Anthropology and Social Movements Network
organised the second meeting of the “Political Imagination Laboratory: Visualizing and Investigating the Imagination of Contemporary Activism”. The event took place from 8 to 10 December 2017 at University of Perugia, Italy.
More info: www.peasantproject.org
In Italy, we continue to work with the “Laboratory of Ethnography of Social Movements” (Laboratorio di etnografia dei movimenti sociali - LEMS) has been established as a new modality of inter-universitarian cooperation.
“Political Imagination Laboratory” 14th -16th October 2016 University of Perugia
In addition, we have organized a number of international conferences, workshops and seminars, including the held at University of Perugia in October, as well as various activities in Paris and the UK.
ECO-MOUVEMENTS EMERGENTS: LES NOUVEAUX DEFIS DE L'ACTIVISME URBAIN ET RURAL EN EUROPE ET AILLEURS
EMERGING ECO-MOVEMENTS NEW CHALLENGES OF URBAN AN RURAL ACTIVISM IN EUROPE AND BEYOND
Download PDF programme
II. Workshop of the EASA Network “Anthropology and Social Movements”
MONDAY 30TH NOVEMBER 2015 10.00 – 18.00
Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, EHESS – équipe Tram (Transformations Radicales des Mondes Contemporains) of IIAC (Institut Interdisciplinaire d'Anthropologie du Contemporain), CNRS (Centre National pour la Recherche Scientifique), 59 rue Pouchet, 75017 Paris (Near main entrance, will be indicated)
10.00 Welcome and introduction
10.30 Panel One
10.30 Valeria Siniscalchi, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Marseille. “Food Activism: Changing practices, rethinking the economic models”
11.00 Nadia Breda, University of Florence, “Les quatre écologies de l’agriculture «homéodynamique»”
11.30 to 11.45 Coffee Break
11.45 Georgeta Stoica, University of Perpignan, “Saint George et le dragon. Une histoire de protection de l'environnement, activisme et échec”
12.15 Concluding Discussion
12.45- 14.30 Lunch Break
14.30 Panel Two
14.30 Sílvia Gómez, Autonomous University of Barcelona, “Activism and sustainable economies: food values in self-managed organic food supply chains in Catalonia”
15.00 Livia Cahn, Université Saint Louis, Brussels, “The stories we tell: vignettes in ethnography”
15.30 Andrea Ravenda, University of Perugia, “’We must defend our land’. Ethnography of ‘No coal’ movement in Brindisi (Southern Italy)”
16.00 Coffee break
16.10 Sinem Kavak, Bogazici University, “A Comparative Spatio-Economic Analysis of Water Struggles in Rural Turkey”
16.40 Concluding Discussion
17.10 Key Note Lecture, Ana Aparicio, Northwestern University, Evanston (IL)
17.40 Final discussion
The workshop is organised by the Network “Anthropology and Social Movements” of the European
Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA),
coordinated by Alexander Koensler (Queen’s University Belfast) and Elena Apostoli Cappello (Tram – IIAC,
Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris).
Theorizing Social Movements and Shifting Globalizations.
13-14-15 May 2015 at Northwestern University, Chicago.
Network meeting at EASA2014, Tallinn
During 2014, the network meetings unfolded in new informal and formal forms of European and inter-continental collaborations. Here, we wish to mention only the two major highlights:
1) In Italy, a newly “Laboratory of Ethnography of Social Movements” (Laboratorio di etnografia dei movimenti sociali - LEMS) has been established as a new modality of inter-universitarian cooperation. A first congress of LEMS had been organised at University of Modena and has seen a rich, engaged and enthusiastic participation of many established and emerging scholars.
(2) As a direct result of our first network meeting, a newly established cooperation with US anthropologists has led to a follow-up event planned shortly at North-Western University. This conference has been possible thanks to our first meeting.
The workshop was organised by the “Anthropology and Social Movements” network of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA), in cooperation with Associazione Nazionale Universitaria degli Antropologi Culturali (ANUAC) and the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice (Queen’s University Belfast).
The unprecedented spread of mass mobilizations throughout the world let many observers no doubts: something “new” and still “without a name” is happening, argue distinguished left-wing scholars like Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek. The unexpected “Arab Spring” changed regional and global Middle Eastern politics, considered as “static” and out of the way for activism beyond the Islamist movement; the worldspreading “Occupy” movements have set a new agenda highlighting the crisis of neoliberal austerity politics.
The almost universal reach of recent popular uprisings has made studying social movements “hotter” topic than ever, movement scholar Mayer Zald relates. With this development, themes and visions related to justice and solidarity evolved rapidly, has been re-interpreted by a diverse set of forces and has moved back at the forefront of global visibility. In this workshop, we aim to explore these possibilities of justice. What contributions anthropologists do make to this effervescent scenario? With their interest in marginal settings and the world peripheries, which are the “out-of-sight” places and scenarios worth to have a closer look at? How can anthropologists relate activism to broader political forces? In this workshop, we aim to create both a comparative perspective and update and coordinate interpretative lenses.
The workshop will be articulated in two panels and will be concluded with a wrap-up round table. The first panel aims to critically map the scenario with a special focus on “peripheral” uprisings in the South. The second panel invites papers that offer fresh ethnographically and theoretically informed insights related to the recent wave of uprisings.
Please submit an abstract (that includes also your academic affiliation and role) for a paper of about 20 minutes for one of the two proposed panels (max. 250 words) before August 30th 2013 to easasocialmovements2013(AT)autistici.org. The name of the attached document with the abstract should include your last name.
The registration fee will be 60 Euro and will include accommodation. EASA-members will receive a reimbursement of their travel expenses up to 250 Euro (in exceptional cases more). The event will take place at University of Perugia on October 26th, 2013 (central Italy; e.g. airports “Perugia San Egidio”, Florence, Pisa, or Rome) and lodging will be organised.
UPRISINGS IN A RISING SOUTH:
DISPOSSESSION, COLLECTIVE ACTION AND RESISTANCE IN EMERGING
Conveners: Kenneth Bo Nielsen (Univ. of Oslo) and Alf Gunvald Nilsen (Univ. of Bergen)
The vectors of power in the world system are changing: at a time when the Anglo-American heartlands of capitalism are mired in persistent crisis, several countries in the South – chief among them Brazil, India, China and South Africa – currently find themselves at the crest of a wave of economic growth that, according to the UNDP’s Human Development Report of 2013, is bringing about “a dramatic rebalancing of global economic power”. Yet, there is ample reason to question the optimistic tenor of recent Southern growth stories: chronic poverty still blights the lives of large numbers of the population in these “emerging” countries; inequality is on the increase, despite the implementation of “inclusive” social policies; integration into transnational economic circuits has been accompanied by processes of dispossession and exploitation.
While these are arguably good reasons for why these “emerging economies” are becoming epicentres of popular resistance in the global South – from the sweatshops of Chinese export-processing zones, via the fields and forests of the Indian and Brazilian countryside to the shantytowns of South Africa’s urban centres – the set of factors that combine to shape the form and direction that social movements in these countries take is undoubtedly complex.
This panel sets out to conduct a comparative and critical mapping of this scenario, by inviting papers that present empirically grounded and theoretically informed analyses of popular resistance in emerging economies. The panel addresses such questions as: What are the fulcrums around which resistance ignites in different countries? What have been the key characteristics and dynamics of movement processes in the context of rapid growth and uneven development? How do activists and movement campaigns relate to regime types and organised politics in different states? How does the availability of material resources combine with symbolic and affective registers in concrete processes of collective mobilisation? And to what extent have social movements become forces that are capable of changing trajectories of development in the emerging economies of the global South?
Panel Two STUDYING ACTIVISM AND THE POSSIBILITIES OF JUSTICE
Conveners: Alexander Koensler (Queen’s Univ. Belfast) and Elena Apostoli Cappello (Univ. of Padova)
The current waves of uprisings change not only the political scenario, but urge to rethink as well many theoretical premises of understanding activism. The objective of the panel is to reflect on the implications of this dramatic change, for both academic research and political balances. In light of this, the panel gathers ethnographic, fine-grained analysis of shifting conditions in which movements are articulated and then to “update” theoretical approaches. One primary impact of this shift is the re-emergence of universalist, transversal themes of justice as contra-posed to the fragmentation and localisation of activism in terms of “identity”- claiming activism. In anthropological writing on social movements, a tendency to focus on “culture” and internal dynamics has been prevalent. Therefore, compared to other fields, such as the well-established paradigms of social movement analysis in sociology, anthropological research is characterised by a fragmentation of different approaches and theoretical lenses when it comes to a systematic understanding of the relation between activism and conflicts.
In this panel we invite both ethnographically informed and theoretical contributions that offer fresh interpretative and/or theoretical insights. This can be developed either related to often overseen or original aspects of movement analysis (knowledge and claim-making, travelling imaginaries) or the understanding of activism within its broader field of forces (conflicts, state power, global scales). The aim of this panel is to interpret changing interpretative paradigms. We thus ask the following questions: How can we understand collective action as related to dispossession, inequality, crisis and conflict? Which theoretical lenses can be proofed, updated or inverted? How can the intervention of social movements in relation to other political forces appropriately be assessed? What sort of political forces are social movements?
Final Round Table
ANTHROPOLOGY, SOCIAL MOVEMENTS AND JUSTICE: NEW INSIGHTS?
Coordinator: Stefano Boni and [TBD]; all participants
For questions: Elena Apostoli Cappello elena.apostolicappello(AT)ehess.fr or Alex Koensler a.koensler(AT)qub.ac.uk