SCA Meetings 2010 Overview

Natureculture: Entangled Relations of Multiplicity

SCA 2010 Spring Meeting

La Fonda Hotel, Santa Fe, NM

May 7-8, 2010

Organized by:Marisol de la Cadena (UC Davis)

Brad Weiss (William & Mary C)

In recent years, a number of theoretical developments in anthropology, geography, and Science and Technology Studies have problematized the modernist ontological divide between Nature and Culture and a whole series of binary oppositions that follow from it. The applications of these problematizations have been on topics as diverse as the concrete issues from which they arose: human/animal relations; the ‘imbroglios’ of natureculture produced by technology; shifting notions of personhood; the status of ‘things,’ substance and property; approaches in terms of “rooted networks,” “relational webs,” and “intra-action” to mention a few. Current events (ranging from global warming, opposition to mining technologies by indigenous groups, forms of human kinship emerging from new reproductive technologies, animal cloning, and most recently, swine flu) indicate the timeliness of these conceptual developments.

This concern with natureculture has generated a host of useful conceptual tools: partial connections; the cyborg; multinaturalism; cosmopolitics; actor-network; intra-action; ontological politics. The epistemic and political implications of these tools go beyond their analytical usefulness as innovative devices to explore novel phenomena. They complicate well established fields of inquiry, s such as political ecology, sexuality and human reproduction, kinship, modern politics, and even history; as well as categories like space, place, and scale, and, indeed, the singular ontology that these fields sustain.  An expansive notion that ignores traditional divisions among spheres of life, natureculture also blurs disciplinary boundaries and creatively connects fields of knowledge—indeed the natural and the social sciences can creatively collaborate, each becoming more than one.

At the 2010 SCA Conference we seek to encourage inquiry into the ways that anthropological, and specifically ethnographic inquiry, present opportunities to interrogate both the ontology of Western notions of history (and effectively provincialize it) and reciprocally, to historicize the notion of ontology thus pluralizing it. How are diverse ontologies made and deployed? How are distinctive ontological claims that sustain scientific, economic, domestic, ritual, and/or governmental projects articulated both within and across orders of natureculture?  Anthropological exploration of these questions (that suspend "ethnographic" and "theoretical" divides) may enable an iteration of ontologies as a relational analytic device, displacing its version a as pre-established reality-out-there (even if an open and shifting one), the end-goal of investigative endeavors.

Our conference invites papers, films, photo essays, and multimedia installations that track, propose, or otherwise reveal and interrogate paradigmatic, disciplinary and ethico-political ruptures effected through the analytics of naturecultures. We are as interested in topics ‘traditional’ to anthropology (magic, ritual, kinship, to name a few) as we are in thematic newcomers (animals, climate, oceans, air, GMOS) and, of course, those fields—such as race, the state, the environment, art, health and bodies, neo-liberalism, sexuality, globalization - that have occupied our discipline in the last generation. Multi-disciplinary presentations as well as contributions by other than anthropologists will also be considered.

In our program thus far, we are pleased to announce that the David Schneider Memorial Lecture will be given by Donna Haraway (History of Consciousness, UC Santa Cruz), in conversation with John Law (Sociology, Lancaster U).

Our plenary speakers include: Debbora Battaglia (Mt Holyoke C), Judith Farquhar (U Chicago), Stefan Helmreich (MIT), Deborah Bird Rose (Macquarie U, Sydney), and Sarah Whatmore (Geography, Oxford U).

Plenary Session I

Debbora Battaglia (Mt. Holyoke), "No Longer an Earthling"

Sarah Whatmore (University of Oxford), "Affective Environments: Thinking Through Flooding"

Stefan Helmreich (MIT), "Nature/Culture/Seawater"

Plenary Session II

Judith Farquhar (University of Chicago), "Plural Ontologies, Medical Agency: How Chinese Medicine Argues About Being"

Deborah Rose (Macquarie University), "No Name. Not in the Face of All This Death"

Q & A with Deborah Bird Rose and Judith Farquhar

David Schneinder Memorial Lecture

Donna Haraway (UC Santa Cruz), "Staying With the Trouble: Xenoecologies of Home for Companions in the Contested Zones"