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Thursday, April 11, 2013

AAA 2013 CFPs


We are looking for a few more papers to fill out this panel (short abstract
below). Papers that explore well-being from a feminist and/or gender studies
perspective would be particularly welcome. Thank you for your consideration
and apologies for cross-posting.

In anthropological explorations of well-being, a number of key questions
tend to arise. In this panel we will take two: the relationship between
well-being and cultural change and the interplay between communal-based
notions of well-being and individual-based notions of well-being. In the
panel, we will examine how cultural change shifts the relative importance of
communal and individual notions of well-being in socialist and
post-socialist societies. Our panel will explore socialism as a utopian
ideal, one that in many regions ultimately gave way to various forms of
market capitalism. Rather than talk about the "collapse" or "failure" of
socialism, panelists will explore the ways socio-economic change shapes the
way people think about person, community, and the ideal life. The goal of
the panel is to illuminate the contribution ethnography can make to
conversations about well-being as well as illustrate the importance such
conversations have for an understanding of socialism.

If you are interested in being considered for this panel or would like more
information, please contact Noor Borbieva at


Co-Organizers: Nadia El-Shaarawi (Duke) and Bridget M. Haas (UCSD)
Discussants: Sarah Willen (UConn) and TBD

If you're interested, please email a 250 word (max) abstract to Nadia
El-Shaarawi (<>) and Bridget M. Haas
( by Friday, April 12, 2013.

Over the last decade, work on the biopolitics of otherness (Fassin
2001; Ticktin 2006, 2011) has importantly observed the ways in which
the suffering or compromised body may serve as grounds for political
legitimacy. In this way, certain kinds of bodies or forms of
vulnerability are deemed to be 'deserving' or 'undeserving' (of legal
status; of access to care; of claims to 'citizenship' or, even,
humanity). To this end, Fassin (2007) has noted how, in some contexts,
intervention goes beyond simply governing aspects of the self to
instead make moral choices about which lives are worth saving and
which lives can be sacrificed, a process he describes as a "politics
of life." This politics of life occurs in diverse legal, medical and
social contexts: the clinic, social services, humanitarian
organizations, legal processes such as asylum. Often, the "tragic
choices" (Fassin 2011) about who should receive services, status,
protection, or care are based on questions of deservingness. Recently,
Willen (2012: 805) has taken up this problematic and urged scholars to
move beyond a focus on entitlement and access to health care to
interrogate "the subtler moral positions that undergird" these
notions, which she identifies as "local ways of reckoning
health-related deservingness."

To this end, we invite papers that engage theoretically with the idea
of health-related 'deservingness' on multiple levels and in multiple
local contexts. By focusing on "health-related" deservingness, we
adopt a broad conceptualization of "health," and include not only
investigations into the inequitable access to and provision of care,
but also wish to highlight inquiries into the connection between moral
economies of deservingness and lived experiences of health, illness,
and/or suffering. The papers on this panel will explore how
conceptualizations of 'deservingness' are constructed and reproduced
across a variety of contexts, be it on the level of the global, state,
clinic and other institutions, or local communities. Ultimately, we
are interested in exploring underlying (both implicit or explicit)
local models of moral personhood or moral economies as they relate to
issues of deservingness or legitimacy, as well as their lived or
embodied effects.

Papers may engage, but are not limited to, the following domains:

* The moral assumptions that inform the politics and/or provision
of health care in certain settings or for certain populations (e.g.,
immigrants, drug users)
* The political, historical, and socio-cultural production of
'deservingness' in particular settings.
* Investigations into the lived consequences of being recognized
or interpellated as 'deserving' or 'undeserving' in a particular
* And, conversely, ethnographic and theoretical consideration of
the ways in which institutional or hegemonic discourses of
'deservingness' may be resisted, negotiated, and/or transformed.
* Inquiries into how health-related deservingness may be
'performed', narrated, and/or assessed in various contexts.
* The specific forms of vulnerability, suffering, or precarity
that get recognized as legitimate or 'deserving'; consideration of the
effects and lived experiences of "hierarchies of suffering" (Farmer
2003; Holmes 2007) or modes of "strategic categorization" (Watters
* Investigations into the relationship between entitlement and
* Theorizing on the role of humanitarianism or human rights
discourses in conceptualizations of 'morally deserving' patients,
clients, citizens, etc.


We are looking for one more paper for our panel (see details below). Those
interested please contact David Rojas ( Please send a
250-word abstract as soon as possible and no latter than April 12. The final
panel abstract will be modified as to include the paper selected in this CPF.

Organizers: Kristina Lyons (UC Davis) and David Rojas (Cornell University)
Commenter: Stuart McLean

Session Abstract: Anthropologists who study 'the politics of life itself'
often focus on technologies, practices and forms of knowledge that are
configured and deployed in the caring, nurturing, re-fashioning, and
normalizing of human bodies and populations. Such studies have been grounded
in Foucauldian notions of biopolitics in which the human organic (human
bodies and populations) takes center stage. This allows scholars to examine
the political significance of industrial accidents, epidemic diseases,
humanitarian crises, environmental problems, economic policies, and
biomedicine research programs. In this panel, we advance these insights by
examining instances wherein 'life itself' cannot be disentangled from the
non-human flows without which human and non-human organisms and populations
would cease to exist in their current forms.

We study terms and concepts through which different populations express the
processes that bring together humans and non-humans: 'Buen Vivir' [Living
Well], 'life force,' 'ojos para ella' [eyes for her]. The situations on
which these terms emerge are examined in relation to ontological
understandings and disputes regarding the kinds of entities that compose the
world, and the types of relations that such entities may establish among
them. At the crossroads between biopolitics, cosmopolitics, and science and
technology studies, we examine practices and forms of knowledge that address
human life as a political event that is suspended in shifting streams
composed by heterogeneous entities and processes.

It is not our objective to apply biopolitical perspectives to an
ever-expanding array of ethnographic situations. Rather, we explore the
theoretical and political potential of ethnographic engagements with
populations whose understandings regarding life and living are different
from those offered by western ontologies. Namely, we investigate
ethnographically how different ontological understandings come into play in
political discussions and struggles that touch upon the question of life.
Our ethnographies explore agricultural life projects in Colombia's Amazon
that confront coca crops and their official alternatives through
'apprenticing' the forest; challenges posed by indigenous cosmologies to
developmental discourses in Ecuador and Bolivia; and disputes with political
ontology connotations in which the Maori bring non-human entities into
planning discussions in New Zealand. These ethnographic engagements are in
turn useful for taking seriously the diverse notions of 'life and living'
that emerge across expert and non-expert spaces.
Our papers show how scientific and non-scientific practices may nurture or
destroy the viability of various forms of life beyond a strictly biological
conception. This panel asks: 1) What counts as 'life and death' in
encounters between environmental sciences and non-scientific ecological
practices? 2) What forms of political domination and violence privilege
biological notions of life (organisms or populations) at the expense of
others? 3) What forms of life emerge from or escape these technologies of
biopolitical domination? What forms of struggle, care or endurance might
they compel or make visible?


The emergence of developmentalist political parties, the construction of
megaprojects such as hydroelectric dams and bridges, the creation of
planning ministries, and the establishment of social science departments are
examples of efforts of Latin American countries to facilitate and encourage
development processes. Expertise in the knowledge of the social and the
expansion of infrastructure were key elements in bringing the "backward"
sectors of their societies into modernity.

Sociologists, anthropologists, and social workers assisted nation-states in
their attempts to reproduce and tame the labor force necessary for the
growth of national capital. Many post-Second World War II Latin American
social states favored distributionist policies and subsidized rural
production to help processes of industrialization by providing able bodies.

Burdened with foreign debt and under pressures from lending multinational
banks, however, most countries were compelled to accept structural
adjustment policies that undermined the power of states to meet the needs of
their populations. During the 1990s, developmentalist imaginaries were
abandoned. Ministries of planning and of social action were either
dismantled or revamped to reflect new dominant ideologies fostered by
supranational actors with the complicity of local politicians. Funding for
social development was drastically cut. Non-governmental organizations
filled the void left by a shrinking state. Instead of working with the
"social" many of the civil society actors focused on "focalized" actions and
worked at the level of individuals, families or communities to encourage
entrepreneurialism and empowerment. With the exception of funding aiming at
addressing extreme poverty, most external funding was allocated to make
"nature" and "culture" profitable.

In the New Millennium, extreme unemployment and poverty led Latin American
voters to elect populist and left wing political candidates. Analysts speak
of a "pink tide" and of the advent of post-neoliberalism. This panel
investigates these recent transformations in Latin America. What aspects of
neoliberal ideologies have been abandoned? Are the states revisiting
developmentalist agendas? If so, are industrialization and productivist
agendas challenging the environmental visions of the 1990s? Is the social
state back? Are we witnessing a reconfiguration of class power? What forms
of resistance are these transformations engendering? What forms of
redistributive policies, if any, have emerged? Is redistribution challenged?
How have the geopolitical relations of Latin American nations been
reconfigured? What kinds of policies are privileged?

Please, send your abstract to Carmen A. Ferradás. Email:


Sports and performance cultures, in general, are sites to explore how
bodily social rituals affect and reflect identity and social relations
within and between societies, as well as self-making processes within
individual bodies. Vast amounts of time, money, emotional, and social
relationships are invested into these cultures by performers, coaches,
families, spectators, and (in some cases) governmental agencies. These
cultures are constantly discussed in the media, become meccas for thousands
of people across cultures, and serve as symbols of "ideal society" where
individuals perform behaviors they otherwise may not perform (or be
"allowed" to perform) outside the sport and performance realm (which can
have both productive and destructive consequences). In this way,
performative bodies contribute to the making of social and cultural
identity. But also, individual performers experience their own physical,
mental, and spiritual transformations. These social and self-making
processes can both resist and reproduce normative boundaries of power roles
(i.e. state, coach, parent, athlete) and identity (i.e. gender, race,
ethnicity, physical ability, play, work, child/adulthood). Thus, the focus
is on how the individual and social body are linked through highly intensive
and (often) competitive bodily performance: as individual bodies embody and
perform cultural values that spectators share as well, they make themselves
in the process.

Relevance to AAA 2013 Theme:
There are sport-related topics in the national and international media
everyday that could benefit from anthropological research, which makes our
focus extremely relevant to contemporary society. As anthropologists, we
have a unique perspective to shed light on the cultural motivations and
implications related to these issues that are not just sport and performance
issues, but social issues. We can link ethnographic research to the highly
publicized media stories as a way to show anthropology's contribution to
contemporary, public discourse. Thus, through our analysis of power and
identity in the sport and other high-performance cultures, we can contribute
to future analyses of and solutions to these issues in the larger societal
Possible Themes:

Since it is a panel on performance, presentations would ideally include
visuals to accompany the traditional verbal component. This could include
demonstrations, video, audio, and/or photos. Paper topics could include, but
are not limited, to the following themes:

- identity (de)constructions (i.e. gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity,
nationality, physical ability)
- exploring boundary (de)constructions (i.e. play/work, child/adult,
nature/nurture, abuse/discipline)
- embodiment and the body
- spirituality
- power and (dis)empowerment
- health and well-being
- performance enhancement
- pedagogy, education and training
- inter-generational relations
- normalization of socially unacceptable behavior
- how current problems in sport and performance cultures can benefit from an
anthropological perspective
- how sport can be a lens through which to learn about the simultaneous
individual and social identity-making processes

If you want to participate in this panel please send a title and a short
abstract (250 words max) to by this Friday, April 12th at
Noon. Selections will be made before the AAA final deadline (April 15th) for
individual papers and panels. Feel free to ask me any further questions
about the panel topic.

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