Session Proposal: 2008 American Anthropological Association meeting, San Francisco.
The Cultural Politics of Exclusion, Fragmentation, and Disconnect
Organizer: Erik Reavely
This session proposes to explore the way that the meaning and relations of social exclusion, fragmentation, and disconnect are challenged in ways that express demands for inclusion, collaboration, and engagement. How do those on the fringes of institutions, organizations, state projects, even social movements understand their social position as “outsiders”? Considering Jackson’s definition of cultural politics as “the domain in which meanings are constructed and negotiated, where relations of dominance and subordination are defined and contested,” papers in this session will discuss how understandings of exclusion, fragmentation, and disconnect intersect with culturally constructed social divisions such as ethnicity, race, gender, nationality, religion, class, age-grade, and/or sexuality.
Gramsci proposed that “each [person] is a philosopher,” and in keeping with the insistence that intellectual activity is fundamental to human experience, this session asks how the understandings of everyday outsiders can be considered social theories of exclusion, fragmentation, and disconnection. How do “outsider” or subcultural/subaltern narratives of identity present critiques of dominant or institutionalized relations of exclusion? How do they conceptualize communities or fields as fragmented vis-à-vis relations of power? How are severed and disconnected relationships between agents and communities understood in a historical context of contested cultural politics? How do the cultural politics of exclusion intersect with political economy to form what Thompson and Scott called a ‘moral economy’ of contested meaning? Furthermore, how do outsider critiques provide alternative discourses for inclusion, collaboration, and democratic engagement?
Through ethnographic description, papers in this session will discuss the ways that exclusion and inclusion are negotiated within contexts of ongoing struggles about identity, inequality, and social change. Considering identity as a category of practice embedded within multidimensional relations of power, this session will address how identities, formed around “exclusion, fragmentation, and disconnect” fashion arguments for inclusion and delimit moral domains of engagement, exchange, and collaboration. Hence, panelists could also explore how, as anthropologists, we might bring our insights about exclusion and inclusion back to our participant communities to strengthen existing democratic struggles within them.
I would like to allow ample time for open discussion among participants and those in attendance. To do so, I would either limit six papers to ten minutes each, or limit the number of papers to 5, or go double session! I would be open to suggestions as well.
Papers could come from a range of issues central to contemporary anthropology; social movements, immigration, nationalism/ transnationalism, community organizing, development and revitalization schemes, social interventions or prevention initiatives, politics of policy/decision making, labor relations, occupational identity, schooling, education, desegregation, youth & subculture, history & memory, religion, and more…
Please submit 250 word abstracts to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 17.
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