Call for Papers
American Anthropological Association (AAA), Nov. 19-Nov. 23, 2008
Hilton Park and Towers, San Francisco
EXTERNAL FORMS, INTERNAL NORMS: Investigating critical terms of inclusion, engagement and collaboration
Elif Müyesser Babül, Stanford University & Zeynep Devrim Gürsel, University of Michigan
Anthropologists have long investigated processes of inclusion and exclusion, whether based on race, class, gender, ethnicity or nationality. In relation to key issues of our times (social identity, economic growth, cultural preservation, peace-making, social justice) a widespread assumption is that collaboration and engagement should be promoted with an ideal situation being expressed in terms of maximum inclusion. Yet, what are the specific processes enabling maximum inclusion? What kinds of mechanisms come into play in an idealized inclusion? In realms as diverse as politics, humanitiarianism, art, journalism and energy distribution, collaboration begins with an assumption that a certain commensurability is feasible and desirable. Inclusions are often determined in terms of compliance to certain terms and conditions defining the criteria for admission. Forms are developed as supposed precursors or prerequisites to collaboration and inclusion, imagined as means of establishing commensurate (thus legitimate) grounds of engagement. Hence despite the ideal of maximum inclusion, everyday practices often emphasize compliance rather than inclusion or partnership.
What if we turn our attention to forms themselves? What are the kinds of inclusion that are precluded in the imposition of outside/external/foreign/international forms in an attempt to shape the inside/internal/domestic/national norms? How do established forms/formats/formalities determine and/or negate developing norms/normals/normativities?
This panel attends to how forms presented as prerequisites for admission, collaboration or engagement themselves function as processes of inclusion or exclusion. This panel broadly examines the mutually constitutive relationship between forms/formations/formalities and norms/normalities, and how an approach focusing on this relationship might enable us to rethink processes of inclusion, collaboration and engagement. Paying specific attention to the institutional practices (of the state, civil society, inter/supranational formations, capital, markets, communities, subjectivities, etc.) of determining the conditions of possibility for inclusion/integration, the panel will address the widespread consequences, intended or otherwise, of certain forms determining the grounds on which inclusion and exclusion can be negotiated.
Tweaking classic dichotomies between form and content, and arguing that the criteria of inclusion are equally defined in formal terms along with normative ones, the panel will attend to the specific practices of inclusion/exclusion employed by both the selectors and the selected in various processes of admission/integration in diverse ethnographic settings. The importance of such forms has led to a development of formal expertise and individuals who are considered formal experts who can inform others. Focusing on the power relations that emerge when forms themselves are made into a topic of expertise by casting the knowledge of form/formal knowledge as essential for inclusion, the panel will also explore the types of access that are implied in those inclusions, often imagined in the form of access to resources (linguistic, intellectual, financial etc.) and opportunities (for dialogue, understanding, wealth etc.).
We invite paper submissions to address these issues through any of the following sets of questions:
What are the kinds of norms/normalities that are produced/incited via compliance to certain forms/formalities?
How does a perspective focusing on the constitutive aspect of the form enable us to rethink processes of inclusion/exclusion/collaboration/integration?
What kinds of subjects/objects are called forth through the casting of multi/uni-formalities?
What are the kinds of power relations that are inherent in different practices of admission/integration?
What are the kinds of institutional practices that define the forms that need to be complied with in order to achieve or demonstrate certain norms?
What kinds of negotiations happen during processes of selection?
Are there any possible sites of resistance to those selective processes of inclusion/exclusion, admission/integration?
Parallel to the way in which formalities are constitutive of normalities, can we think of any informalities constitutive of abnormalities?
How can we think of forms and norms as mutually constitutive of each other?
What would the possible promises/shortcomings of an anthropology of the form be?
Please send abstracts (250 words) for 15-minute papers and a brief bio or cv to Elif Müyesser Babül, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Zeynep Devrim Gürsel, email@example.com by by Friday, March 14, 2008.
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