Call for Essays on "Emergent Identities"

Please direct any response to: ea@culanth.org

In spring 2007, the Board of the Society for Cultural Anthropology deliberated signing a letter drafted by the American Anthropological Association to be sent to the United Nations advocating passage of the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The letter generated intense discussion because of recognition among Board members that indigenous and minority status is configured very differently in different regions of the world, such that policies and programs addressed to "indigenous rights" have varied effects, and sometimes occlude critical political dynamics. The SCA decided to sign the letter, eager to support the gains some groups have achieved within the rubric of "indigenous rights." The Board also agreed that the Society's journal, Cultural Anthropology, could play a role in drawing out differences among indigenous groups, and how the rubric of indigenous rights can circumscribe political attention, entitlements and cultural production.

We hope to receive essays that address various regions of the world, and various dynamics through which indigenous and minority status is produced and plays out. Critical, from our perspective, is attention to the way indigenous and minority status is what Michael Fischer terms an "emergent form of life" - produced through complex social, cultural and political economic interactions, likely requiring reconsideration of conventional ways of thinking about politics, geography, sovereignty, rights, and other core categories. We also would like essays that highlight the double binds that emerge in efforts to deal well with indigenous and minority issues within established political, legal and cultural frameworks. In other words, we are interested in essays that examine how the politics of indigeneity can operate as what Stuart Hall famously called a "politics without guarantee" - attuned to the many ways mechanisms of liberations are entangled with what they critique.

Critical questions, in our view, include the following: How have constructions of indigenous and minority status in a given region changed over time, and what kinds of political and legal infrastructure have been involved? How have social scientists focused on indigenous and minority issues in a given region contributed to the construction of identity categories? How have local and academic or political notions of indigeneity traveled across regions and fields of action? What roles have groups granted indigenous and minority status played in stabilizing, contesting and otherwise negotiating their status? What are the range of interests in play in designating indigenous and minority rights, and what examples of innovative governance of these interests can be brought to bear in future governance efforts? How have governing mechanisms traveled, and how can vast differences among terrains of application be accounted for and addressed?

We encourage authors to think broadly and innovatively about how their research bears on issues related to indigeneity and minority rights, and are happy to discuss possible angles.

Previous Cultural Anthropology essays on indigeneity include Faye Ginsburg's "Indigenous Media: Faustian Contract or Global Village?" (1991); Andrea Muehlebach's "'Making Place' at the United Nations: Indigenous Cultural Politics at the U.N. Working Group on Indigenous Populations" (2001); and Charles R. Hale's "Activist Research v. Cultural Critique: Indigenous Land Rights and the Contradictions of Politically Engaged Anthropology" (2006).

We would appreciate hearing from you right away if you are considering a submission. Abstracts of essays are due November 15, 2007. Final essays are due February 15, and should be approximately 9,000 words long (through much shorter pieces will also be considered). All submissions will be peer reviewed.

Mike Fortun, Associate Professor

Co-editor, Cultural Anthropology

Department of Science and Technology Studies, Sage 5112

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

110 8th Street Troy, NY 12180

v: 518-276-6598 f: 518-276-2659