Adaptations: Seeking Justice through the Social Production of Space

Social movement activists and artists have deliberately linked symbolic politics to material conditions in their efforts to establish inclusive public histories and urban spaces to challenge the widening inequality wrought by the neoliberal era. From the decades-long struggle to revise public space in the city of New Orleans that resulted in the removal of four segregation-era monuments celebrating white supremacy, to domestic workers’ and immigrants’ actions protesting labor conditions and forced deportations, similar actions are afoot, or have already occurred, throughout the United States. These events speak to longstanding themes in anthropological inquiry: monuments and memorialization; necropolitics and the political lives of dead bodies; space-time alterations; the reproduction of inequality. They also invite scholars to consider related phenomena, such as the black and white buttons pinned to student backpacks proclaiming “RESIST,” and the social workers and grantmakers counseling vulnerable communities to identify and market their “resilience,” in the context of the “nonprofit industrial complex” (Rodríguez 2009). This panel seeks to bring together scholars working on various forms of public protest and social movement mobilizations to discuss peoples’ efforts to adapt public spaces as they seek to collectively organize for social justice. We especially welcome submissions that support the development of a “public anthropology that intervenes at the level of the heart as well as the head” (Morris 2015:548) and that speak to the following questions:


  • What are the varieties of ways in which “public” is envisioned, and what versions of public space are prioritized in movement-building and actions?


  • How do understandings of public space itself change with and adapt to collective action?


  • Do the racialized and gendered histories of public squares and streets make them less relevant sites of action? More relevant?


  • What are the embodied and sensory elements of such spatialized actions, and how do these inform theories of identification and the social production of space?


  • During what some have called a new regime of “antisocial security” (Maskovsky 2017) that promotes increased citizen-policing in the vein of “see something, say something,” how are social movements adapting to new modes of surveillance in public space, and toward what ends?


  • In what ways do “the politics of the workplace and the politics of the living space” (Collins 2012:17) enter into people’s efforts to adapt public space and adapt the social policy environs to support community wellbeing?


Please submit your abstract (no more than 250 words) to [email protected] OR [email protected] by Monday, April 2. You will receive a reply by Friday, April 6.


Imagining Transformations: Hope as Resistance, Resilience, and Adaptation

Hope, the ability to imagine a better future, is necessary for every social transformation. Hope is thus a central and a vital tool for communities and individuals navigating realities of gender inequality, ongoing/ post ethno-national conflicts, structural, prolonged racism, and their intersections.

As a political mechanism, hope is a subversive act that undermines the existing and calls for an alternative reality (a vision) and its application. As a practice it relies on translations of and revisiting existing knowledge and sparks of disappointed past hopes from various—geographic, cultural, social—locations. In addition to a constant move between past-present-future, its application often is often characterized by innovation and creativity. While discussing hope as a human impulse to design an alternative, better reality brings a sense of inspiration and joy, it is actually a dangerous political act, as resisting the existing reality means negating the existing hegemonic order, the structures of power and the agents that shape it. Beyond the oppression potential embodied with resisting the social reality, the social structure shape the hope impulse as a privilege kept for individuals free from everyday existential survival struggles, with an access to knowledge that allows to imagine alternative realities, the ability to strategically organize around a particular cause, to the few who can imagine themselves as worthy of a better lived reality.

As anthropologists working in diverse locations and social situations we are well located to bring together the geographic, cultural and social diverse knowledge regarding imagining transformation, challenging social structures, and disappointed sparks of hope. By doing that we can truly help understand change and the many forces that have impeded and encouraged it through time and across space. Such endeavor will help to promote a better future for all of us. We are also trained to witness and speak to individuals’ diverse level-access to the practice of imagining a better future, we can better address the question who resist and in which conditions resistance is possible?  Can individuals raised in oppressive environments imagine alternative futures? How do they teach themselves—and others—that they are worthy of a better present? How do they secure support and resources for such struggles? And how do they do so while maintaining personal safety? Further, we can ask: in which conditions resilience and adaptation are actually forms of resistance.

Keeping in mind that in hope can and will be disappointed, this panel examines hope not as a noun, to be possessed or given to another, but as a verb, something to be exercised and practiced. Potential papers can address research projects concerning transformative ideologies such as human rights and gift economy, and / or address questions such as: What role does hope play in one’s research, activism, and lived experiences? How is hope experienced, expressed, and practiced by individuals from diverse social locations? How can we maximize the expressions and practice of hope in ours and others’ lives?

If interested, please submit a 250 words abstract to Tal Nitsan ([email protected]) by Sat, March 31th (with acceptance notice by April 3rd).


Anthropological Engagements with Queer Theories

Discussant: Prof. George Paul Meiu (Harvard University)

Panel Organizer: Yifeng Cai (Brown University)

Presenters: Prof. Casey Miller (Muhlenberg College); Dr. Justin Perez (Princeton University); Yifeng Cai (Brown University)

What is “queer” about “queer anthropology”? Is queer theory only appropriately applied in studies of the “gender and/or sexual minorities”? Conversely, are studies on LGBTQ+ individuals necessarily queer? What are some of the congruencies and/or conflicts between queer theory and anthropology at specific historical moments and cultural contexts? Recognizing the diverse and plural ways in which “queer theory” has been conceptualized, critiqued, and/or employed in anthropological works (Boellstorff & Dave 2015; Manalansan 2016), this panel seeks to anthropologically approach “queer theories”: the (im)possibility of its definition, the potential/necessity/challenges of engagements with queer theory, and its “future,” or the (necessary) lack of it (Edelman 2004).

As the title implies, this panel is interested in multiple perspectives on how Instead of necessarily presenting an “agreement” or a “consensus,” this panel takes it as its ethical commitment to “differences” (Berlant & Edelman 2014). At a time that seems increasingly normalized and normalizing, it is even more imperative to understand “queerness” in local, national, and global contexts. Moreover, there are multiple ways to engage with queer theories: to queer an ethnographic context, to queer anthropology writ large, to queer “queerness,” just to name a few.

Deliberately broad in scale, this panel seeks submissions that theoretically and/or methodologically engage with queer theory from a wide range of topics, regional focus, and approaches. Potential themes include but are not limited to: queer critiques of anthropological ideas and practices, ethnographic studies informed by queer theory, queer theories’ application in archaeological research, etc. Collectively, the papers in this panel will shed light on the following questions: What are the diverse understandings about, and applications of, queer theories in anthropological works? How do/can these “queer theories” inform anthropological research within and beyond LGBTQ+ topics?

If interested, please send a 300-word abstract, with your name and affiliations, and any questions to Yifeng Cai at [email protected] by April 1, 2018. Please indicate in the abstract your name, email address, and affiliation. Decisions will be sent out by April 7, 2018.


Berlant, L., & Edelman, L. (2014). Sex, or the unberable. Durham & London: Duke University Press.

Edelman, L. (2004). No future: Queer theory and the death drive. Durham: Duke.

Manalansan IV, M. F. (2016). Queer anthropology: An introduction.” Cultural Anthropology, 31(4), 595–597. Berlant, L., & Edelman, L. (2014). Sex, or the unberable. Durham & London: Duke University Press.


Configurations of Queer Space; Anthropological Openings

Melanie Ford, Rice University

Kristin Gupta, Rice University

Discussant: TBA


While understandings of place as community, milieu, and country have long been the terrain of geographers and historians, the “spatial turn” in social theory and anthropology has helped usher in new  intellectual itineraries. Scholarship on the production of space have typically been concerned with capitalist, material productions of “place” (Harvey 2006) and demarcations of otherness (Foucault 1967) that frame the real/perceived architectures of boundaries and borders as technologies that define and demarcate particular inclusions and exclusions. However, anthropological scholarship has also shown that boundaries and borders can be fluid and contradictory, challenged and changed by social presence (Cons 2016), and act as narrators of particular histories (Gordillo 2014).


Recent inquiries into anthropologies of extreme and outer spaces have toiled and troubled with relations of life to/in space, unearthing new engagements with perception (Battaglia, Valentine, and Olson 2015; Battaglia 2012). Virtual realities are heralded for utopias and possibilities unseen (Boellstorff 2008), and scientific spaces of reproduction must contend with the aesthetics and confines of material realities (Kelly and Lezaun 2017). Spaces are also places held world making capacities, for example (de la Cadena 2015).


What would it mean to push further these boundaries of space? How can queer theory better attune and account for ideas of space? Scholars of gender and sexuality have shown how productions of space are dependent upon heteronormative and teleological time references (Fabian 1983, Butler 2004, Boellstorff 2008) as well as highlighted the histories of urban encounters and place-making and critiqued trajectories that figure cities as the ultimate locations for queer authenticity. Aside from queer and feminist unpackings of spatial terms such as home, diaspora, reservation, nation, and borderlands, what does it look like for queer and gender theory to be applied to ethnographic practices and theories about other architectures? How might it be a lens to see anew spaces that craft everyday and not self-evidently “queer” relations to one another? The goal of this session is thus to engage with questions and debates in the discipline of anthropology around the production, elasticity, and density of space. With a focus on the nexus between queer theory and queer spaces, individual abstract submissions are not limited but encouraged to include:


  • Boundaries and borders;
  • Spaces of inclusion, exclusion, and nonspaces/voids;
  • Extreme and literal environments (outer space);
  • Architecture and design;
  • Aesthetics, affect, and phenomenological encounters;
  • Beyond place-making in urban imaginaries;
  • Sociomaterial space
  • Queer displacement(s)


Please submit abstracts of no more than 250 words via email to both session organizers (Mel Ford [email protected] & Kristin Gupta [email protected]) by Sunday, April 1st. Please include name, affiliation, title of paper, and email. We will notify authors by April 7th. Registration and panel proposals are due by April 16, 2018 at 3:00pm EDT.


“Resilience and Adaptation in Voice and Refugee Experience”


The voice used to describe refugees often does not speak from experience. Media reports tend to objectify refugees as a political problem. In general, public life and narrative about refugees leaves experiences unspoken, perhaps because of cosmologies of nations, structural violence, trauma, or power differentials. Anthropological studies of voice, however, have exposed such problems in representation through a variety of methods and perspectives. This panel foregrounds experience to ask: What can research on voice teach us about refugee resiliency and adaptation?


This CFP seeks papers, which examine the importance and processes of voice in resilience and adaptation in refugee experiences through a broad perspective. This panel is open to all subfields of anthropology. Some possible inquiries might be: Is voice necessary for survival and resilience? What are the places where refugee voices can be heard and shared? Which publics are formed with the voices used to describe refugees? How is voice given to experiences through war crime and border crossing death investigations? How can feminist studies about voice contribute to our understandings of refugees? What can vocal pedagogy and vocal production teach us about these themes? This panel seeks to explore refugee experiences through topics such as, but not limited to: the connections between individual voice and the sociocultural in resiliency and adaptation; voice as sound and embodied practice or as literary and linguistic practice among refugees; voice and underrepresented people; refugee experiences as adaptations in different historic or prehistoric times; and research methods for unspoken experiences.


Please submit an abstract of 250 words or less to Nina Müller-Schwarze at [email protected]

before or on March 24, 2018. The panel will be submitted to the Music and Sound Interest Group for

review and possible sponsorship.


After Disaster: Critical Explorations of Recovery

In the past two decades, anthropological analyses of disaster have offered us new ways of understanding the relationship between natural events and competing societal responses (Button 2010, Oliver-Smith and Hoffman 1999, Weston 2017), the biopolitics of citizenship and governance (Masco 2006, Petryna 2002), and the opportunistic workings of neoliberalism (Adams 2013, Barrios 2017). Additionally, anthropologists have considered other disastrous events such as political violence (Nelson 2009, Scheper-Hughes 1998) and economic restructuring (Han 2012, Song 2009). In this panel, we want to look broadly at life after these disastrous events and train our critical focus on the concept of “recovery.” We will frame our inquiry around the following questions:

  • What does it mean to say that something (anything) can be recovered? How do people rationalize choices about what and whom to claim as worthy of recovery? How are drivers such as social justice or structural violence (re)enacted in the efforts of recovery? How do notions of hopefulness, resilience, or skepticism drive the narratives of recovery?
  • How do we understand the temporal and spatial dimensions of recovery as we move away from the idea of a disastrous event as a singular catastrophe and toward an understanding of disaster as rupture that includes the effects of slow processes, such as entrenched structural inequalities and anthropogenic climate change? What happens when we remove the assumption that recovery comes after disaster?
  •  What can we learn about sovereignty, citizenship, and biopolitics by attending to the interactions between governmental, nongovernmental, and intergovernmental actors engaged in projects of recovery?
  • In our own work as anthropologists, how do we write about recovery? To what extent is our writing about disaster an act of recovery? When we work within this frame, how does it shape our sensibilities of what should be recovered? How might we imagine it otherwise?

We welcome proposals for papers in response to these questions. Please send your abstracts (maximum 250 words) to SherriLynn Colby-Bottel ([email protected]) and Dannah Dennis ([email protected]) by Wednesday, March 28.


Reproductive Labor in Post-Soviet Contexts

This session’s aim is to engender a discussion between scholars working on different forms of reproductive labor in post-Soviet contexts, such as domestics, wives, sex workers, surrogate mothers and ova donors. The robust body of literature on social reproduction, feminization of labor and migration, and commoditization of the female reproductive bodies, intimacies and labors, has shown how the neoliberal restructuring of the global economy since the late 1970’s resulted in the emergence of the transnational feminized service industries. This panel examines these new forms of unacknowledged waged reproductive labor outsourced from Western Europe and North America to the post-Soviet countries in the Eastern Europe. Drawing on the feminist intellectual tradition that rejects the separation between the domains of production and reproduction, it invites papers that explore how the intimate labor in the post-Soviet contexts, including domestic, emotional, sexual and reproductive activities, is foundational for the accumulation of capital and value generation.

The list of topics that could be key to the discussion:

  • the new sexual division of labour in the post-Fordist economy
  • commodification of women’s bodies, intimate relations, affective labors in the post-Soviet contexts
  • institutionalized production and global exchange of affect, sex, care and reproduction
  • cultures, technologies, and politics of care
  • Eastern European women, migration and reproductive labor
  • new forms of kinship, relatedness and sociality mediated by the market
  • gift vs. commodity, love vs. money rhetorics
  • Marx/Mauss opposition

If you are interested in participating in this panel, please contact by April 16:

Polina Vlasenko
[email protected]
PhD candidate, Dept. of Anthropology, Indiana University


For Whom Do We Refuse?: Exploring the politics of “Refusal” and “Resistance” in and beyond social movements


In their respective work on the groundbreaking notion of “refusal,” Audra Simpson (2014, 2016) and Carole McGranahan (2016) have asked what it means when marginalized people–through individual or collective action–turn their backs on and refuse to accept the legitimacy of various authorities to grant rights, social services, recognition, and protection. Refusal forces us to think through the ways in which articulating inclusionary demands to the state, or “shadow state” (Wolch 1990, see also Gilmore 2007, Ferguson and Gupta 2002, Karim 2011), is a tacit acceptance of the imperial, gendered, racist, settler colonial dominance that create exclusions and the need for humanitarian, academic or state intervention in the first place. While McGranahan and Simpson are writing in the context of formal social movements, we are interested in further exploring the diverse ways in which refusal and resistance are enacted in encounters with diverse arrays of institutions that comply with the state and its “shadow” — humanitarian agencies, non-profits, transnational corporations, and academic institutions in an era of neoliberal privatization of social welfare.


Both Simpson and McGranahan have pushed scholars to consider the generative aspects of refusal. In turning away, those who refuse may not be disengaging, but instead imagining and enacting new subjectivities, new ways of being, interpreting histories, and new freedoms that lie outside the state. Of course, the imperative to imagine freedom beyond what hegemonic forces delimit as politically imaginable present those who refuse with the dilemma of having to “stop a story that is always being told” (Simpson 2014, 177). It is the difficult task of acting and imagining in ways that lie outside the dominant ideological forces — capitalism, neoliberalism, nationalism, militarization, imperialism — that structure but do not determine what we imagine to be politically possible (Kelley 2002; INCITE! 2007). The fraught imperative to look beyond while still operating within particular hegemonic frameworks makes it such that even those who refuse must at time deploy a politics of resistance — to accept foundational grants from the non-profit industrial complex (INCITE! 2007), to couch would-be radical demands in the language of citizenship and assimilation (Nicholls 2013), or to subject oneself (yet again) to the gaze of the academy (Paredes 1979; Clark 2008), as some examples. The result is often an interesting amalgamation of a politics of resistance and a politics of refusal that are neither entirely one nor the other.


We invite abstract submissions for papers that explore questions such as the following:

  • How do politics of resistance and refusal co-exist? What new sorts of politics and subjectivities, modes of historicity and dreaming of the future are generated from their interaction? What happens when the concepts of refusal and resistance are expanded to domains outside of formal social movements?
  • How do social actors enact resistance and/or refusal towards different publics? What structures decisions to perform refusal in certain spaces and not others?
  • What is the relationship between individual and collective enactments of refusal? Through what mechanisms are they mutually constituted?
  • How does refusal shape the way that actors understand themselves as subjects in opposition?
  • What are the implications of studying refusal and resistance? How do/can/should these concepts shape the scholarly work that is possible / ethical on this topic? Are there particular sensitivities that those working with/on these topics must take into account and how might these be negotiated?


If you are interested in participating in this panel discussion, please send a title and abstract of 250 word maximum (and a 50 word minimum) to [email protected] and [email protected] by March 30.


Re-making Cultures:

Negotiating Marginalization through Social Innovation in the Neoliberal Age


While feminist political theorist Wendy Brown (2015) launched her critique against neoliberalism and its stealth revolution to undo democracy, she defined liberalism as “a peculiar form of reason that configures all aspects of existence in economic terms”, reducing human beings to market actors and every field of activity to a market (17). Viewed from this perspective, the recent rise in popularity and significance of terms and practices in the social sphere, such as social innovation, social entrepreneurship, and community empowerment in privately owned business—all of which stress novel approaches to social needs—seems highly suspicious (Nicholls 2006). Is the innovative integration of business management and social mission just another example of the neoliberal logic that has been plaguing the world across public, private, and non-profit domains of life? What possibilities, if any, could be offered for the socially disadvantaged in this? What practices of resistance, resilience, and adaptation have surfaced? What specific reconfigurations of gender relations have emerged? What intricate relationships between state, market, and the social sector could be discerned from the perspective of social innovation? What patterns of resilience, resistance, and adaptation have surfaced?


Feminist anthropologists have contested generalities that render neoliberal social transformation always and everywhere the same by demonstrating its varied reconfigurations that are culturally specific and fundamentally gendered (Freeman 2014; Muehlebach 2011; Ong 2006; Shever 2008). Drawing from these feminist anthropological insights, this panel seeks to offer more nuanced understanding of social entrepreneurship and innovation beyond its current disciplinary affiliation of business and political science. It seeks specifically to explore the intersection of social innovation (a lump sum term that includes a range of practices that integrate at varying degrees the state, the market and the social sector) and social marginalization through the lens of “culture”.


We are interested in how socially peripheralized groups across the world have effected their presence—as demonstration of their resilient negotiations of and resistance against marginalization—in mainstream society through social entrepreneurship that innovatively evokes variously defined notions of “culture”. Examples include Turkish migrants’ incorporation of “Turkish culture” in their affective labor that constitutes part of Berlin’s sociable “neighborhood culture”; marital migrants teaching multiculturalism in South Korea through commodification of their culture; and retired women mobilizing innovative community building through retrieving the traditional culture of Cantonese embroidery in southeast China.


Please send your abstracts (maximum 250 words) to Shunyuan Zhang ([email protected]), Suyun Choi ([email protected]), and Anlam Filiz ([email protected]) by Monday, April 2, 2018.




Brown, Wendy. 2015. Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution. Cambridge, London: The MIT Press.

Freeman, Carla. 2014. Entrepreneurial Selves : Neoliberal Respectability and the Making of a Caribbean Middle Class. Next Wave. Durham: Duke University Press.

Muehlebach, Andrea. 2011. “On Affective Labor in Post-Fordist Italy.” Cultural Anthropology 26 (1): 59–82.

Nicholls, Alex (ed.). 2006. Social Entrepreneurship: New Models of Sustainable Social Change. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ong, Aihwa. 2006. Neoliberalism as Exception: Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty. Durham NC: Duke University Press.

Shever, Elana. 2008. “Neoliberal Associations: Property, Company, and Family in the Argentine Oil Fields.” American Ethnologist 35 (4): 701–16.


Constructing the Digital Self: Social
Media, Gender, and Sexuality in the Global South


This panel contemplates the ways online spaces contribute to formations of gender and sexuality in the
Global South. Much scholarship on social media has focused on the Global North, emphasizing the usefulness of these platforms for, among other things, organizing (Juris, 2012), negotiating interpersonal relationships
(Gershon, 2010), and as a testing ground for new and emerging subjectivities (Raun, 2015). Significantly less scholarly work has explored the impacts of social media use as it relates to situated ways of living
gender and sexuality in the Global South, despite high rates of social media penetration in this region. Panelists will explore various articulations of gender and sexuality in online spaces as a mode of imagining the temporally situated self?broadly understood?and associated phenomena such as futurity, aspiration, and modernity. In understanding online media as inextricable, rather than separate from offline experiences, subjectivities, and identities, these uses of social media may be key to understanding the ways in which individuals in the Global South engage with social media to manifest emergent forms of lived gender and sexuality both on- and offline.Organizers: Baird Campbell (Rice University) and Nell Haynes (Northwestern University)Discussant: Heather Horst (University of Sydney)

Please send submissions of no more than 250 words to Nell Hayes ([email protected] <[email protected]>) and Baird Campbell ([email protected] <[email protected]>) by April 5th.

Selections will be made by April 9th. All accepted participants must register by April
16, 2018 at 3:00pm EDT. Gershon, I. (2010).

Nell Haynes, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor
Northwestern University
[email protected]


Security as the Absence (and Presence) of Care

If you would like to participate in this panel, please send a 250-word (approx.) abstract of your paper presentation by Friday, April 6, 2018 to Alex Lee ([email protected]<mailto:le[email protected]>).

Panel Organizer: Alex Jong-Seok Lee (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Panel Discussant: Jeffrey T. Martin (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Security is ubiquitous. Didier Fassin describes it as a keyword and a leitmotiv of national and international policies in many domains (Security: A Conversation with the Authors 2008). Although traditionally within the purview of International Studies, security has emerged as a popular subject of anthropological study. Specifically, anthropology has enhanced our understanding of security’s relationship with topics like urban policing (Fassin 2013), migration and human rights (Burrell 2010), the National Security State (Price 1998), and biological weapons (i.e., biosecurity) (Collier, Lakoff, and Rabinow 2004)?among many others. Yet, security’s meaning(s) often remain(s) ill-defined. Likewise, most studies of security (though valuable) tend to focus on core concepts like the state, violence, war, and peace while the idea of security itself can produce a masculine bias (Sjoberg 2009). Hence, as an idea and ideal, security continually must be unpacked and situated within specific historical, political, and social contexts (Stewart and Choi 2012).
Etymologically, security denotes the removal (se) of concern or care (cura) and, therefore, implies a condition that is either carefree or careless (Hamilton 2013). That is, the condition of feeling secure necessitates the work of others in producing care. Recent anthropologies of care (Raijman and Schammah-Gesser 2003; Buch 2013; Baldassar and Merla 2013), chiefly those highlighting gendered migrant care labor, have grown. But few have foregrounded the complementary relationship between ostensibly distinct practices of care and security. How might viewing care?both in its presence and absence?and (in)security as mutually constitutive unveil the (invisible) feminized work behind managing individual and collective conflict? Similarly, how might posing security as a masculinized display of (un)caring practices highlight the performative dimensions of the former?
This panel follows interventions by feminist security studies (Ahall 2015), as well as calls for more critical comparative ethnographies of security (Goldstein 2010). It seeks papers that advance more inclusive understandings of security that highlight the centrality of gender and the everyday situatedness of securitizing acts. We ask: within which diverse local work contexts might an ?ethics of care? (Gilligan 1982)?the theory that care’s core elements of sustaining human relationships and dependencies should achieve moral significance?manifest as a viable alternative to a rationalized perspective of ?indifference? (Herzfeld 1992) and justice undergirding conventional logics of security? What are the conceptual and practical implications of productively disrupting pat distinctions between the labor of care and security? For example, in what ways might care labor also serve to (re)produce modes of social inclusion and exclusion? Likewise, how might viewing security as embodied acts of absent (and present) care shift our knowledge about global regimes of gendered (e.g., care, affective, intimate) labor, precarity, hope, and agency?


Call for participants for a roundtable on collaborative academic writing

Please send a100-200 word summary of your potential contribution to Lydia Dixon at

[email protected] by *Monday April, 2.*

Roundtable: Examining the Challenges and Productive Possibilities of
Collaborative Academic Writing from a Feminist Perspective

Collaborative ethnography often refers to the practice of involving the
subjects of one?s research in the planning, data collection, analysis
and/or writing
processes of ethnographic research (Lassiter 2005). Within the recent
collaborative turn in anthropology, such inclusion has been seen largely
as a response to the call to present multiple perspectives, let people speak
in their own voices, and engage in political discourse from a more
connected place (Holmes & Marcus 2008). It is a key feature of contemporary
public anthropology. There has been much exciting discussions within the
last few decades around the value, ethics, and methods of collaborations in
the field and co-authorship with participants and people outside the
academe. However, co-authorship among ethnographers or with students has
received less critical examination. Academic collaborations and co-authorship
consist of different power dynamics, methodologies, issues of
representation, and forms of knowledge production. Indeed, co-authorship –
specifically within cultural anthropology – often takes a backseat to
single authorship; junior scholars in particular, may face penalty if they
engage in too much collaboration with peers.
For this roundtable, we posit that co-authorship, specifically among those
in the academy, should be continuously reexamined as a powerful and
exciting piece of the broader collaborative turn in anthropology that
extends feminist approaches to research and writing. Co-authorship has much
to offer. Co-authored pieces can present and integrate multiple
perspectives while providing another layer of peer review and
interpretation. The process of co-authoring can allow authors to deepen
their understanding of their material through deep engagement and
discussion, while pushing them to be clearer and more inclusive in their
writing. Furthermore, co-authorship can be an enjoyable and fulfilling
process, and can strengthen bonds between authors that may lead to
additional opportunities for writing, research, and presentation.
Feminist scholars have increasingly called for the need to recognize
multiple perspectives and to value inclusion in academic research and
writing. Yet despite the potential contributions of co-authorship to such
efforts, it continues to carry a stigma within academic anthropology, as in
some other fields. This stigma and the challenges academic co-authors face
are feminist issues in that they impact women in specific ways (Kochan &
Mullen 2010). Recent studies have found that women are more negatively
affected by co-authorship than men; even when men co-author, they get more
credit for their work than women?s co-authored work (Sarsons 2015). Such
inequalities must be considered in relationship to broader inequalities in
This roundtable invites discussion on the role of collaboration in
ethnographic research and writing, particular in regards to co-authorship
among academics and anthropologists. We hope to interrogate the image of
the lone ethnographer, and to question anthropology?s stayed vision of what
kind of writing ?counts.? We agree with D?na-Ain Davis (2016) that,
?[c]ollaboration is one way to upend antagonistic research practices and
neoliberal impulses that privatize knowledge production, pushing aside
social justice,? while also recognizing that it has its challenges.
Further, we ask in what ways are collaboration and co-authorship gendered
in the academy and how might we change this?
We welcome case studies, practical advice and successful strategies for
collaboration and co-authorship (such as listing names alphabetically,
changing tenure expectations for solo authorship, etc.), as well as stories
of the challenges of collaboration or co-authorship. More broadly, we ask:
why should co-authorship matter in anthropology and how can its importance
become more widely recognized?

For the roundtable, presenters will be asked to briefly describe their
experience and thoughts with co-authorship before participating in a group
discussion that seeks to identify key themes and next steps.

Organizers: Veronica Miranda, Mounia El Kotni, & Lydia Dixon

Works Cited:
Kochan, Frances K. and Carol A. Mullen. 2010. ?An Exploratory Study of
Collaboration in Higher Education From Women’s Perspectives?. Teaching
Education 14(2): 153-167.
Davis, D?na-Ain. 2016. “Collaboration: Provocation.”Correspondences,
Cultural Anthropology website, September 26, 2016.

Sarsons, Heather. 2015. ?Gender Differences in Recognition for Group Work?.
Working Paper.
Lassiter, Luke Eric. 2005. “Collaborative Ethnography and Public
Anthropology,”.Current Anthropology 46(1): 83-106.
Holmes, Douglas R. and George E. Marcus. 2008. ?Collaboration Today and the
Re-Imagination of the Classic Scene of Fieldwork Encounter?. Collaborative
Anthropologies 1(1): 81?101.

Mounia El Kotni

Postdoctoral Research Associate
Department of Anthropology
University at Albany, SUNY
[email protected]


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