Call for Papers
Panel for 2010 American Anthropological Association meetings, New Orleans, November 17-21
Organizer: Kitana Ananda (Columbia University)
Panel title: “Protest Publics and Transnational Activism”
*If interested, please submit a paper title, abstract of no more than 250 words, affiliation, and contact information to Kitana Ananda, firstname.lastname@example.org, by March 25, 2010. Participants will be notified of acceptance by March 27, 2010 and are expected to register with the panel for the AAA’s April 1st deadline.
From carnivalesque anti-war rallies to bureaucratic petitions, and grave human rights testimonies to eloquent, impassioned oratory, popular politics has become a fruitful area of ethnographic inquiry in the contemporary moment. In the wake of “resistance studies” (cf. Abu-Lughod 1990, Ortner 1995) and amid ongoing concerns with the semiotic and cultural logics of late capitalism (Ong 1999, Appadurai 1996) anthropologists have carefully situated social and political movements in formations of modern power. However, as new modalities and movements emerge from the transformations of global capital, activists coordinate everyday struggles in increasingly transnational practices online, in media and on the street. This panel takes these public cultures of activism as its primary site of inquiry to examine how people protest injustice, articulate grievances and perform collective agency.
Protests rely on the movement of people and their bodies, ideas, discourses, objects, and repertoires of action. Yet a study of their circulation does not simply highlight mobility. Rather, as anthropologists Benjamin Lee and Edward LiPuma write, circulation is “a cultural process with its own forms of abstraction, evaluation, and constraint, which are created by the interactions between specific types of circulating forms and the interpretive communities built around them” (2002: 192). Drawing on Lee and LiPuma’s signal contribution to the study of circulation, this panel examines the “cultures of circulation” created and animated by transnational activism and protest. Papers will examine how people interact with the cultural and political forms that circulate through activist networks and protest movements, and thus enact new subjectivities, imaginaries and social practices in the worlds they seek to transform. In doing so, panel members will also explore how activists, protesters and dissenters inhabit and negotiate legal and extra-juridical forms of social control in the everyday life of protest. Even as they make claims that seek to transcend a particular nation-state or border, activists are embedded within these social relations. In using a transnational frame, we welcome contributions that analyze how activisms are constituted in the uneven linkages and relationships between sites of protest. Papers may also examine how a specific protest or action is located in transnational public space, time and communication.
We invite participants to consider the following questions: When and how are protests mobilized in different locations; what is transnational about these practices? How does activity provide people with the experience of transnational space without crossing a border? How do material technologies of public communication and practices of activism mediate social relations between participants within and across these sites? What interpretive communities do these circulations presuppose, and what culturalist assumptions might they share in relation to the modern state? How do activists and protesters imagine relations of solidarity with others? How do they negotiate anxieties of difference and distance? What are the architectonics of spaces of protest, and how do activists define and deploy the borders, frontiers, and margins that create rural, urban/suburban, national, regional and/or transnational movements? What is the temporality of activist circulation; what pasts and futures do these activisms imagine and attempt to enact?
Papers may also address the social practice, politics and intersection of any of the following: diaspora mobilization, nationalism, citizenship, kinship; new social movements (e.g. feminist, queer, environmental, human rights, health, labor); cultural or language revitalization; migration, immigration, asylum-seeking; piety, religious revival and secularism; independent activist and community media, anti-globalization, peace/anti-war, international solidarity movements; dissent; counter-protests.
For more information about requirements and the AAA call for papers, see http://www.aaanet.org/meetings/Call-for-Papers.cfm
Department of Anthropology
New York, NY 10027 Email: ksa2103[at]columbia.edu
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