Call for papers: American Anthropological Association 110th Annual Meeting; November 16-20, 2011; Montreal, QC, Canada; theme of Traces, Tidemarks, and Legacies
Rethinking Ethical Difference: Legacies and Traces of Intersecting Concepts and Practices of Morality
** Submit abstracts of up to 250 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 11th. Notifications will be sent by March 18st.**
The practice of ethnography compels our engagement with contrasts, at various levels, in concepts and practices pertaining to ethics and morality. These contrasts might involve different understandings of what is entailed in being a good, ethical person or different ways of enacting moral character and evaluating the characters of others. From the outset of a project, the ethnographer may be confronted with differences between ethical practices and concepts in the field and those inherited from her/his discipline, culture, or experience. Later on, differences and even contradictions can emerge within a region of study in the ethical concepts and practices that are deployed by people occupying differing social positions and in different instances of interaction. A common and productive method for treating these differences has been for anthropologists to glean types of ethical or moral frameworks from instances of their expression and relate these to distinctions in the actor’s stance or position. Classic studies often drew contrasts between non-Western and Western ethical frameworks, whereas more recent works have emphasized distinctions between frameworks or registers associable with different religious, political, or economic orientations within a single setting.
Our panel investigates how seemingly dissimilar ethical concepts and practices might not be fully distinct, but rather reflect shared roots or the historical or contemporary influence of one ethical framework upon another. Rather than teasing out differences among or within ethical frameworks, we explore the interconnections between them as a means of reconsidering how ethical life responds, as well as contributes, to changing social and political relationships both within and across cultures. Such reconsiderations may illuminate issues including, but not limited to, how ethical concepts and practices reflect or resist impositions of domination through means that are not exclusively ethical; how ethical concepts and practices change in conjunction with other forms of social or cultural change; and how to approach ethical similarities and differences methodologically.
Individual papers each address one or more of the following questions: What happens when contrasting ethical concepts and practices intersect in time and space? Do their encounters with each other leave traces, tidemarks, or legacies that are ethnographically discernable? What can the effects of these encounters tell us about past and present social and political relationships in an ethnographic context? What can they tell us in general about how ethical concepts and practices change? In what ways do the histories of ethical concepts and practices, both those found in the field and those applied from elsewhere, matter for anthropological analyses that attend to the ethical dimensions of contemporary social life?
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