Translations of Value, 2006

SCA Biennial Spring Meeting

Translations of Value

May 5-6, 2006

Pfister Hotel

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

For more information, please contact the conference co-organizers: Judith Farquhar (Chicago) and Robert Foster (Rochester).

Scholars and activists concerned with contemporary globalization have called attention to the long-distance, border-crossing movements of capital, migrants, media, technology and ideology. These movements describe an uneven and shifting topography, a world that is anything but flat. Science studies and ethnographies of capitalism have demonstrated, moreover, that every instance of transportation is a translation. As terms and objects are transmitted and translated between material and cultural environments, their values shift and mutate. Claims to authentic local character now ring false in cultural anthropology; at the same time, the notion of homogeneous global culture strikes anthropologists as implausible.

The 2006 SCA conference theme invites participants to track, conceptually and ethnographically, the networks of association through which people and things create, recast, and contest economic and semiotic value(s). Contemporary networks – of commodities and texts; institutional practices and facts; machines and maps – are extensive in length yet very concrete. As Bruno Latour has observed, a rail network (for instance) is “local at all points.” No matter how far it reaches, “it is not universal enough to take you just anywhere.” Particular networks materialize (or not) through particular translations. Translations through networks are material transformations that persistently raise questions of value: To whom? For what claims and representations? With what effects on power, knowledge and subjectivity? What does it mean to create new forms of value, new kinds of equivalence?

More specifically, plenary sessions, organized workshops, and conference papers will address the following questions:

+What are the translations -- negotiations and calculations, accidents and acts of violence -- by which people and things bind themselves and others into networks and variously evaluate and qualify their ongoing relations?

+What forms and distributions of agency must be theoretically and empirically envisioned in the course of analyzing networks and translations (e.g., in transnational commodity chains and development projects)? When agents put objects and persons into circulation, what powers are mobilized?

+ What diversities of the past are woven into contemporary translations of value? How do historical terms and entities circulate in new forms within new networks? What is conserved, and what destroyed, in translating historical events, figures and experiences?

+What are the challenges, methodological and political as well as theoretical, posed by tracking globalization to an anthropology committed to ethnographic practice? Can political economic or semiotic approaches to value be productively combined with the insights and methods of actor network theory?Possible paper topics include:

Commodity and value chains (agro-food and apparel commodity networks; techno-politics of supply chains and quality standards; transnational advertising and local agencies; ethical consumers and corporate citizens)

The social life/transnational traffic of things and persons (labor migration; transnational adoption; repatriation of museum collections; ecotourism and medical tourism; ethnological images in global circulation; illicit trade in weapons and drugs; technology in military networks)

Politics of translation in scientific knowledge production (entities and nomenclatures in basic science research; interplay of popular norms and knowledge provider standards; research protocols in practice; networks of commercial science)

Semiotic and linguistic value shifts (literary translation as political and material practice; non-western fine arts as consumer goods; transnational play of New Age terminologies and values; journalistic translations of “the story” for home consumption; international textbook controversies; new depictions of old wars; communicative practices and intercultural encounters)

Transforming knowledge systems and local knowledges (state-produced knowledge for international aid projects or for military use; corporate research and expertise on new business environments; indigenous knowledge as resource or resistance; commodification of experience and expertise in social movements)

Transnational social/solidarity movements (global Maoism; Zapatista transnationalism; international environmentalism; transnational feminist activism; Fair Trade and No Sweat coalitions; the humanitarian industry and mobile sovereignties; indigenous people’s movements)

Geographies of belonging and exclusion (zones of security and stigma in global cities; border disputes and technologies of policing; the political unconscious of new bourgeoisies; long distance nationalism)

Emerging methods and scales of ethnography (cultural holism and the writing of multi-sited ethnography; collaboration and fieldwork; the politics of authority in diversities of voice; history, historicity, historical memory; fiction and the fashioning of ethnographic realism)

Featured plenary speakers and workshop organizers include:Marisol de la Cadena, Lisa Cartwright, Elizabeth Dunn, Judith Farquhar, Robert Foster, Rachael Stryker, Charis Thompson,Kay Warren, Brad Weiss, and Sylvia Yanagisako

The David Schneider Memorial Lecture will be given by Professor Timothy Mitchell of New York University.


Friday May 5th


Plenary Session I

Sylvia Yanagisako (Stanford U) Producing "Made in Italy" in China: Revaluing Commodities and Labor in Transnational Capitalism

Robert Foster (U Rochester) Creating Value in the Economy of Qualities

Brad Weiss (William and Mary C) Captivating Exclusion: Translation and Commensuration in an Era of Excess.

Friday May 5th


Money and Value

Julie Chu (Wellesley College) Money to Burn: Cosmic Deficits and Value Production in a Transnational Chinese Village

Alan Klima (University of California-Davis) Nextworld: Ghosts, Numbers, and the Afterlife of Money in Postcrash Thailand 

Jessica Cattelino (University of Chicago) Betting on the House: Florida Seminole Casinos and the Indigenous Valuation of Money

Karen Ho (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities) A Passion for Abstraction: Rethinking Anthropological Approaches to Money and Financial Markets

Discussant: Jane Guyer (Johns Hopkins University)

Bodies and Economies of Exchange

Ellen Moodie (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) Estranged Deaths: Shifting Values in the Salvadorian Diaspora

Lourdes Gutierrez-Najera (Dartmouth College) Disappearance and Development: Indigenous Bodies and Transnational Labor

Lessie Jo Frazier (University of Missouri at St. Louis) The Value of Tortured Bodies: Truth Commissions, Reparations, and the Economy of Reconciliation in Chile

Deborah Cohen (University of Missouri at St. Louis) Sex, Loyalty, and Betrayal: The Long Arm of Patriarchy in a Transnational US-Mexican Social World

Circulating Ethnographic Images

Jennifer Stampe (University of Minnesota) Mixed Messages at the Museum: Representation, Transformation, Incommensurability

Liana Chua (University of Cambridge) Becoming Bidayuh Changing Trajectories of Concepts and Objects in a Bornean Village Museum

Tami Blumenfield (University of Washington) Visual Collaborations: Looking Behind Lenses in Na Communities

Cathryn Clayton (University of Macau/ University of Hawaii) The Value of Insignificance? On Not Teaching Local History in Macau’s Schools

Processes of Translation and Translations of Substance in Scientific Knowledge Production

Jennifer A. Hamilton (Baylor College of Medicine) Ethical Practice, Ethical Substance?: Ethics and the Politics of Human Genetic Variation Research

Deepa S. Reddy (University of Houston, Clear Lake) Gifts of the Body

Valerie Olson (Rice University) The Exploration Gene: Space Science, Space Policy, and the Transcendent Biological Logics of Human Space Exploration

Discussant: Chris Kelty (Rice University)

Friday May 5th


WORKSHOP I: Disrupting Translation

Marisol de la Cadena (UC Davis) and Judith Farquhar (Chicago) Disrupting Translation

Ethnography and/of Technoscience: Genealogies, Objects, Translation

Michael M. J. Fischer (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Genealogies of STS Here and Elsewhere

Karen-Sue Taussig (University of Minnesota) Science/Nature/Culture: A Genealogy of the Anthropology of the Life Sciences

Joan H. Fujimura (University of Wisconsin) A Genealogy of Interactionist Ethnography of Science in the Disciplines of Sociology and Anthropology 

Discussant: Mike Fortun (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

Trading in Coffee: Nature, Space, and Commodity Chains

Paige West (Barnard/ Columbia) What Does the Bean Mean?: Tracing the Commodity Ecumene for Papua New Guinean Coffee

Molly Doane (Marquette University) Coffee, Peace and Nature

Sarah Lyon (University of Kentucky) The Commodification and Contradictions of Shade Grown Coffee

Aseel Sawalha (Pace University) You are What You Drink: The Politics of Coffee Houses in Postwar Beirut

Values of the Human

Lori A. Allen (Brown University) Mediated Humanity in the Palestinian Intifada

Erica Bornstein (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee) The Orphan as a Category of Humanitarian Value

Christina Schwenkel (Stanford University) In/Humane Acts: Reconciliation and Representation 

Jessica Winegar (Fordham University) Art as Evidence of Humanity

Jenny Huberman (University of Chicago) Shopping for People or Shopping for People?: Deciphering the Object of Consumption among Tourists in Banaras

Friday May 5th



Timothy Mitchell (New York University) Culture and Economy

Reception 6:00pm-7:00pm Cash Bar, Hors d’Oeuvres

Saturday May 6th


Plenary Session II

Kay Warren (Brown) Commodities, Criminals, Victims, Transnational Workers: Reflections on Human Trafficking Across the Pacific Rim.

Lisa Cartwright (UC San Diego) Moral Spectatorship: Global Visions of the Child in Postwar Transnational Adoption.

Charis Thompson (UC Berkeley) Beyond Global Ethnographies: Geopolitical Mappings of the Ethnography of Stem Cell Research

Saturday May 6th


Transatlantic Translations of Value

Beth Anne Buggenhagen (University of Rochester) Photographic Persuasions: Women’s Portraiture, Circulation and Value in Muslim Senegal

Benjamin Eastman (University of Chicago) Treasure through Translation: Baseball, Value, and Transition in Contemporary Cuba

Vicki L. Brennan (University of Chicago) Singing the Same Song: Music, Movement and Migration in Yoruba Churches

Discussant: Jean Comaroff (University of Chicago)

Whither Labor? Value and the Labor Process

Pete Richardson (University of Michigan) Commodities and Nature, Labor and Excess: Sources of Value

Jessica M. Smith (University of Michigan) Ethical Economics: Audit Culture and the Generation of Value in the Mining Industry

Josh O. Reno (University of Michigan) Regimes of Rubbish: the Social Afterlife of Things at an International Landfill

Karen E. Hebert (University of Michigan) Making and Marketing High Value: Restructuring Labor and Reeducating Desire in the Alaskan Salmon Industry

Genese Sodikoff (Rutgers University) A Labor Theory of Environmentalism

Knowledge Claims, Clinical Values

Eugene A. Raikhel (Princeton University) Therapeutic Legitimacy: Translating Political Meaning to Clinical Value in Russian Addiction Treatment 

Kyriaki Papageorgiou (University of California, Irvine) Translating the Book of Life: Biotechnology, Biodynamics and Knowledge Claims on Unruly Subjects

Michael J. Oldani (University of Wisconsin-Whitewater) From the Imaginary to the Real: High Prescribers and (Anti)Narratives of Phamily Life in North America

Paul Brodwin (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) The Co-production of Ethical Selves and the Social Order in American Community Psychiatry

Commodities in Motion

Jan Geisbusch (University of College London) From the Vatican to eBay: Relics as Bones of Contention

Timothy Choy and Shiho Satsuka (Ohio State University and Albion College) Mycorrhizal Translations: A Mushroom Manifesto

Elizabeth Emma Ferry (Brandeis University) Paths of Glory, Rocks of Ages: Temporal Trajectories of Mexican Mined Substances

Ebru Kayaalp (Rice University) A Tale of Two Tobaccos: New Crops and New Subjectivities

Elana Shever (University of California, Berkeley) Fueling Improvement in the Shadow of an Oil Refinery

Market Values, Corporate Identities

Gina Moon and A. Aneesh (Stanford University and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) Legal Translations: The Value of Hoodia and Intellectual Property

Petra Kuppinger (Monmouth College) Islam Inc.: Making, Marking and Marketing Global Identities

Paulla A. Ebron (Stanford University) Global Capitalism’s Black Identity 

Noelle J. Molé (Rutgers University) Coercive Downsizing as Health Crisis: The Charged Life of Mobbing in Italy

Saturday May 6th


WORKSHOP II: Children as Producers of Value, Children as Objects of Value

Elizabeth Dunn (Univ. Colorado) and Rachael Stryker (Mills College)

Spirits of Capitalism: Translations of Moral Value into Market Efficiency

Sareeta Bipin Amrute (University of Chicago) Otherworldly Asceticism: Indian Internet Technology Workers and the Accumulation of Capital

Catherine S. Dolan (Northwestern University) Virtue at the Checkout Till: Salvation Economics in Kenyan Flower Fields

Andrea Muehlebach (University of Chicago) The Moral Economies of Privatization: Notes of Welfare State Restructuring in Italy

Christopher F. Roth (Northern Illinois University) Shopping for a Potlatch in the 21st Century: How Tsimshians Negotiate Symbolic and Material Orders in the Age of Wal-Mart

Discussant: Sylvia Yanagisako (Stanford University)

Brands R Us: Translations of Value and Desire in an Experience Economy

Asif Agha (University of Pennsylvania) The Sponsored Self

Alison Demos (Ogilvy & Mather) Love the Brand, Hate the Ad

Thomas Strong (San Francisco, CA) Celebrity Interpellation and the Qualities of Branded Experience: Some Examples from the Fragrance Industry

Discussant: Michael Silverstein (University of Chicago)

Managing the Global

Elena Krumova (Columbia University) Organizing the Project Economy: Project Management Standards and Practices

Arthur Mason (University of California, Berkeley) The Rise of Consultant Forecasting in Liberalized Energy Markets 

Marina Welker (University of Michigan) The Social Audit: Moral Management in a Transnational Mining Corporation 

Jerome Whitington (University of California, Berkeley) Image, Scene, Affect: Performance-Based Management in Lao Hydropower

Discussant: Stephen J. Collier (The New School)

Artful Objects, Transformed Subjects

Lance Larkin (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) Contested Authenticity: Art and Culture in Zimbabwean Stone Sculpture

Hudita Nura Mustafa (Sarah Lawrence College) Alchemies of Value: Reassemblage in Dakar Fashion Ateliers

Françoise Dussart (University of Connecticut) Canvassing Identities: Warlpiri Acrylic Art as Historical Practice

Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney (University of Wisconsin, Madison) The Flowers that Kill—Border-Crossing and Localization of “Totalitarian” Ideology

Sandra Braman (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) Artistic Value and International Relations

Saturday May 6th


Critique of Anthropology

Margaret Wiener (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) Magic in Translation

Sherry B. Ortner (UCLA) Access: Reflections on Trying to do Fieldwork in Hollywood

Smadar Lavie (unaffiliated) Transnational English Tyranny: The Predicament of Transversal Anthropology 

Katsuo Nawa (University of Tokyo) Translating Se: History, Multilingualism, and the Concept of God in Byans, Far Western Nepal

Scripts, Scriptures

Matthew Watson (University of Florida) Assembling the Ancient: How Stephens and Catherwood Produced Palenque 

Karen Kapusta-Pofahl (University of Minnesota) Into the East/West Knowledge Divide: Transnational Texts, Postsocialist Experts, and the Search for Intellectual Currency among Czech Gender Studies Practitioners

Ann Muir (University of Montana, Missoula)The Politics of Script in Tajikistan 

Douglas Howland (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)The Individual and Society—From Mill’s “On Liberty” to China and Japan

Idols of the Marketplace: Commodity Circulation and Moral Imagination

Anne Meneley (Trent University) Olive Oil as Global Commodity for Staking Local Palestinian Land Claims 

Rupert Stasch (Reed College) “The Sad Thing Is, Nothing Remains Unknown Forever”: Contradictory Social Desires in “Stone Age” Tourism and Journalism

Paul Manning (Trent University) The Epoch of Magna: Brand Totemism and the Imagined Transition/Translation from Socialism to Post-Socialism in Georgia

Anne Lorimer (Reed College) Commodities, Collective Agency, and Translations of Value

Translation, Intervention, Model Programs

Thomas Chivens (Rice University) The Circulation of Interventions

Robert M. Freeman (University of Florida)“ Every Day is World AIDS Day”: Negotiating a Global Narrative of Success

Bjorn C. Westgard (University of Illinois) Making Governmentality Effervesce: Communal Transformations of the World Bank’s Community Nutrition Program in Senegal

James Ellison (Dickinson College) Constructing a New Kind of Family: The Self of Liberalization and the Transformation of Relations in Southern Ethiopia

Anna J. Willow (University of Wisconsin-Madison) Engaging with Environmentalism: Transformational Politics and Indigenous Activism in Northwestern Ontario