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Network of Ethnographic Theory (NET)

To stay updated with NET's activities and upcoming events please visit our blog.

Business meeting 20th January 11am CET

At the NET business meeting during EASA2020 conference, six colleagues were elected by those present to serve as network convenors for the current two year period. Having subsequently found it impossible to agree a way forward, the Exec decided that future of the network is best served by holding fresh elections. Having received just one pair of nominations, network members are invited to meet at 11am CET on 20/01/2021 to accept/reject these candidates and their vision for the network. Their statement is below.

Active members of the network are invited to attend the Business meeting at which the only agenda item is for the candidates to introduce themselves and their proposal, for members to discuss this, and then for members to vote on whether Mike and Sabine should take up the convening role.

RSVP to attend this Shindig meeting

Candidate statement
Sabine Mohamed and Mike Prentice
are running to be convenors of the NET. Anthropology’s priorities have changed since the NET’s founding in 2014 and we believe it is necessary to formally re-align the network with these priorities. These include encouraging anthropological theory that is not only rooted in the discipline’s past, but emerges around contemporary discussions (such as the anthropocene and the global Black Lives Matter movement). To emphasise that we are EASA’s primary ‘theory’ network, we propose renaming it to the Network for Contemporary Anthropological Theory (NCAT).

We envision NCAT as a home for theoretical conversations within EASA, breaking the stigma that “theory” is a high-level, insider pursuit. We will carry out three main activities: (1) continuing the website with new sections from member contributions that make theory approachable; (2) using the Facebook Group to highlight new publications from around the field, emphasising early career anthropologists talking about theory; (3) planning a workshop on “theory in anthropology: the last five years” for Fall 2021. The theme will be decided with the membership in Spring 2021.

Sabine is a doctoral candidate at the Institute of Anthropology at the University of Heidelberg and at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity. She has contributed to the NET on the concept of Afrofuturism, revisiting conceptions of counter-futures, space and its importance for anthropological endeavors. Her dissertation work is at the intersection of race, labor, and Blackness as well as urban and imperial infrastructures in Ethiopia.

Mike is a lecturer at the University of Sheffield. He is a linguistic anthropologist with an interest in corporations, management, and digital technologies of communication in South Korea. He has contributed to the NET website about his research and theoretical interests on virtuality in corporations.

Objectives

The Network for Ethnographic Theory (NET) is a space in which we can collectively think about and experiment with new ways of conceptualizing ethnographic engagement. In particular, our objective is to explore the politics and practices of ethnographic knowing. We seek insights into the relation between the practical partiality in knowing in ethnography and theory’s presupposition of totality. We are interested in the experiences, lived, and in our notes and photographs and recordings, that are set aside because of their very partialness—perhaps not processable through the norms of academic representation—but that call into relief our theoretical frames.

At the NET we wish to rely on an enthusiasm of engagement, and push ahead, not for the sake of newness, but for the sake of need, with different ways of configuring how we know. What do people—indigenous, foreign and familial, interlocutors etc.—know? How do we know that—and how do we account for what remains unknown? At the heart of the NET is an openness of dialogue and participation, where fragmentary and unfinished thoughts get air to breathe. Across our diverse conditions of privilege and disadvantage (shaped by race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, ability, class, and professional position), together we seek ways in engaging with the limits and constraints set by conventions of ethnographic representation and academic knowledge production as we practice radical reflexivity.

In an academic environment entangled with politico-economic regimes that subscribe to the historical reproduction of multiple forms of inequality, and in a world in which truth, fakeness, and knowledge are all contested, we support a space in which to think about how we think, and to reconsider how we know. We seek to let this approach lead us to re(de)fine the intellectual and political project of theorization based on ethnography.

Aims
More concretely, our aims are, first, to increase the presence and activity of NET as a site of engagement with a radically reflexive debate about the meaning of theory-building through ethnography both from centers and margins. Second, to become a central and reliable node in the exchange and circulation of literature, events and other information regarding critical reflections about anthropological knowledge production in ethnographic fieldwork, writing, publishing, and teaching. We will do so via our mailing list, of course, but also establish the Network’s blog as a space for guest posts. Besides NET’s EASA panels and workshops we organize, we welcome your initiatives that foster our collective thinking. On our blog you will find current NET news.

Background
NET was founded in September 2014 with the aim to promote intellectual collaboration around the heuristic of ethnographic theory. While the initiative of the Network wholly appreciates the intellectual impetus of its founders, we are not fastened to the past. In summer 2018, the NET decided to leave behind any affiliation, formal and informal, with those people involved with the hierarchies of HAU. This is due, not only to recent ethical issues at HAU, but with the current strength of the NET to stand apart, and for ourselves. We move forward with new goals, and openness, transparency, inclusiveness, and respect for all involved in the NET. We are excited for the future, and bring intellectual curiosity and ambition to our shared project of opening up new theoretical and ethnographic spaces within anthropology.

Current convenors:

Sonja Moghaddari
SNF-funded Visiting Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Scuola Normale Superiore, Florence
sonja.moghaddari(at)graduateinstitute.ch

Scott MacLochlainn
Postdoctoral Fellow, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen
maclochlainn(at)mmg.mpg.de