CFP: Collaboration. The Biennial Meeting of the Society for Cultural Anthropology

Call for Proposals
Society for Cultural Anthropology (SCA) Biennial Meeting
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Friday, May 13–Saturday, May 14, 2016

Conference Theme: Collaboration

For the past two decades, collaboration has emerged as an important keyword in the world. In response, collaboration has become an important methodological and ethical concern in anthropology. This conference seeks to explore and critically examine the further potential as well as the limits of collaboration.

Collaboration as ethnographic object: From scientific laboratory research collaboration to collaboration among social movements and the sharing (or collaborative) economy, collaboration is a widely observed old and new phenomenon in the world, and recently, much ethnographic attention has been paid to many different forms of collaborative practice. In these studies, anthropologists are critically examining the instrumentality of collaboration. To what extent does collaboration substantively shape scientific research findings? In what ways is the collaborative nature of scientific research expressed in material practices of scientific research? How has the recent explicit framing of collaboration as a norm and imperative transformed social, economic and political organizations? How is collaboration changing the means-end relations of political activism? How is an emphasis on collaboration changing the relationship between producers and consumers in the global economy? What analytical challenges are many different forms of cross-genre and cross-industry infrastructural collaboration, such as data mining, posing to theories of capitalism? What research relationality does collaboration as an ethnographic object elicit or demand in contrast to other ethnographic objects, such as networks and network forms?

Collaboration as method: Anthropological research has always been collaborative in the sense that anthropologists have never worked alone. Anthropological knowledge has also always been part and parcel of the social relations that enable it institutionally as well as politically. Critiques of ethnographic fieldwork and representational practices, however, have led to the further fundamental reframing of the relationship between researchers and research subjects as a more collaborative and democratic relationship. This reframing has resulted in the primacy of new ethical commitments, such as a commitment to more participatory and action-oriented forms of research and a commitment to co-producing anthropological knowledge and theory with research subjects. The reframing also reflects anthropologists’ increasing awareness of the isomorphism of anthropological knowledge and other forms of expert knowledge and has resulted in various experimental engagements with “para-ethnography” or in ethnographic replications of expert knowledge forms. From ethnographic representations to museum exhibitions, ethnographic films and performances, collaboration has become a standard framework in anthropology. What does collaboration as a framework for ethnographic representation or performance reveal and conceal about the nature of anthropological knowledge production? What kinds of new methodological challenges has the explicit framework of the co-production of knowledge and theory brought into view? What different models of collaboration are available within and outside of the discipline of anthropology? In what sense can anthropological research be regarded as a distinctive form of collaboration? 

The SCA encourages the submission of proposals for complete panels, but individual papers will be considered on a space-available basis. Experimental papers, performances, and exhibitions are welcome and encouraged.

Extended Proposal Deadline: February 1, 2016 (submit proposals here)

Program Committee: Hirokazu Miyazaki, Chair; Marisol de la Cadena, Outgoing SCA President; Robert Foster, Incoming SCA President. Please contact Hirozaku Miyazaki at with any questions.

David Schneider Panel Participants: Kim Fortun, Douglas Holmes, Alberto Corsin Jimenez, George Marcus, and Annelise Riles

Sponsors: Cornell University; Cornell Department of Anthropology; Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Meridian 180 Project

Registration Fees:

  • Professional $175
  • Graduate Student/Adjunct Instructor/Retired Faculty $50

Lunch and all-day continuous refreshments will be provided each day. 

Conference Hotels: Statler Hotel, Cornell University Hotel Ithaca, Downtown Ithaca