SCA's Student–Faculty Workshops @ AAA 2012

Each year, the SCA sponsors faculty-student workshop luncheons intended to provide an informal setting where students can discuss their work with scholars from other universities. A list of the workshops for 2012 appears below.

The luncheon workshops are limited to 5 students each, and they take place at a restaurant in or near the conference hotel. The workshops are free to all participants and open to SCA student members at all levels of graduate training. Lunch is provided.

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AAA 2012 San Francisco Workshops

1) Entangled Finance

Facilitator: Karen Ho (University of Minnesota)    

What kinds of projects, questions, and concerns might be the most generative for the “next generation” of interdisciplinary, social scientific scholars of finance to pursue?  What are some of the contributions, lessons, and/or pitfalls of current iterations of “the anthropology of finance”?  Specifically, in the face of dominant financialization and the continual re-making of the contours of that financialization, where lives are continually entangled with finance, are older theoretical assumptions such as the disconnect between finance and production, the abstract and the real, still very useful?  How can we (or do we need to) re-frame the core binaries and frameworks through which we set up our methodological and theoretical approaches to finance in the first place? Are there particular ways in which finance is being imagined in anthropology that have prevented novel collaborations and rethinking of taken-for-granted socio-economic categories and groups?

2) Ethnography of Science and Problematics of Human Difference

Facilitators: Duana Fullwiley (Stanford) and Michael Montoya (UC Irvine)  

Many provocative lines of inquiry in the life sciences are reanimating notions that anthropologists largely see as culturally and politically constructed divisions of human social and biological life.  Race, sex, gender, disease tendencies, psychological capacity, and pharmaceutical susceptibility are increasingly reiterated through high-tech science, often in reductive ways.  In this workshop we will examine these and other objects of study within cultures of science.  Specifically, we will ask students to think about how global politics, market trends, and cultural politics of belonging and inclusion play into the naturalization of difference today.  In discussing the importance of conducting ethnographies of science, we will also engage problems of knowledge more broadly.  Beyond simply glossing how human difference is socially constructed within science, we hope to push further and encourage students to begin to describe the material, physiological, and biological effects of how global disparities are evidenced in their field sites.  What are the processes through which such disparities become attributed to specific bodies and populations?  What scientific grammars and cultural politics merge to make such knowledge possible?  

3) Dilemmas of Studying Charitable, Humanitarian, Human Rights, and Development Organizations in Insecure States

Facilitator: Erica Caple James (MIT)  

Recent literature in anthropology has begun to focus intensively on the historical and contemporary roles that governmental, nongovernmental, and other institutional actors have played in managing and governing “life,” while also delivering compassionate “care.” Whether in studies of charity, humanitarian relief, development, or other kinds of aid, contemporary relationships based on gift-giving and exchanges of knowledge, practices, technologies, therapies, and other discursive “objects,” remain central theoretical paradigms that are “good to think.” This workshop is designed to build an ongoing conversation to support anthropologists working on issues of violence and trauma, human and civil rights, and organized humanitarianism (“faith-based,” “secular,” etc.) in (post)conflict, (post)disaster, and other “transitional” settings. The workshop welcomes participants grappling with the moral and ethical dimensions of “activist anthropology” and the methodological challenges of studying organizations, as well as ethnographers engaged in clinical or therapeutic settings.  

4) Anthropology/History

Facilitators: Carole McGranahan (University of Colorado) and John Collins (CUNY)

What does it mean to put together anthropology and history, and why should they be put together? How might ethnographers do so in ways that are conceptually, methodologically, and theoretically sophisticated? That is, how does one undertake historically “thick” scholarship as an anthropologist? In this workshop, we consider history as a culturally-specific epistemology, an academic discipline, and a social ontology, arguing that sophisticated approaches to these domains and their overlaps is critical to productive engagement with a variety of pasts, presents, and futures. Such work may take a wide range of forms, from examining different temporal ways of knowing, the production of history, the politics of memory, lived experiences in earlier periods, the constitution of historical subjectivities, and concerns with histories of the present. What does it mean, for example, to do ethnography in the archives or historical research in the field? What is the difference between oral and ethnographic history? How might anthropologists move between scales—from life histories to those of communities ranging from villages through states and global institutions—in ways that remain committed to an ethnographic sensibility? In a nutshell, then, how might anthropologists’ long-term concerns with institutions and the cultural bases of knowledge and truth be integrated more effectively into an exploration of historical consciousness in the world today?