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Graduate Student Conference “Imagining Radical Futures: Anthropological Potentialities” (Princeton, October 5. 2018)

Graduate Student Conference

 

Imagining Radical Futures: Anthropological Potentialities

 

Princeton University

Department of Anthropology

 

October 5th, 2018

 

“The facts, alone, will not save us. Social change requires novel fictions that reimagine and rework all that is taken for granted about the current structure of society” (Benjamin 2016)

 

https://antcon.princeton.edu/sample-page/call-for-papers/

Anthropology has traditionally practiced restraint to speak only of what we know by virtue of “being there”. Anthropologists have embraced the limitations of knowledge while demonstrating the power of attention to the specific and the particular, to contest positivism and moralizing normativity. Increasingly, governments and corporations attempt to mobilize anthropological knowledge about social change, geopolitical events, sustainability and resilience as a predictive tool. Yet productive recognition of indeterminacy that anthropological theory and practice evokes opens doors to the imaginary, the hopeful, the potential, and the dreamed. This conference will explore the potential of non-predictive futures in anthropological thought and the methodological complexities of imagining futures from the present.

The binary of “dark anthropology” and “anthropology of the good” (Ortner 2016) belies complexities and tensions in anthropological approaches to social change: anthropology can report, embody, employ, and open toward or against utopian ideals. What are the implications of imaginative fictions for interlocutors, ethnographers, and the discipline? What radical possibilities can anthropology’s fundamental questions about difference, relationality, and power open for us as we attempt to engage with futurity?

We seek contributions from graduate students in anthropology whose work contributes to understanding imagined futures and extends the anthropological imagination. How can anthropology treat the imaginary as both a heuristic and a space of futurity? What social role can anthropology play in voicing potential futures otherwise? How can ethnographers engage differently with interlocutors’ imagined futures?

Potential areas of inquiry include, but are not limited to, the following:

Interested applicants should submit an individual abstract (250-300 words) in addition to brief biographies on or before August 1st to antcon@princeton.edu. Limited travel funds may be available TBD.

References

Benjamin, Ruha. “Racial Fictions, Biological Facts: Expanding the Sociological Imagination through Speculative Methods,” Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience: Vol 2, no. 2 (2016), 1-28.

Ortner, Sherry B. “Dark Anthropology and Its Others: Theory since the Eighties.” HAU : Journal of Ethnographic Theory: Vol 6, no. 1 (2016): 47–73.

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