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Annual Conference 2011

Finnish Anthropology Conference 2011
Dynamic Anthropology: Tensions between Theory and Practice

University of Helsinki, October 5-7, 2011


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One of the many legacies of the intellectual revolution of the 60s and 70s was the acknowledgment that anthropological theorization up until that time had principally addressed the concerns of people in Western societies: industrialized, capitalist, bureaucratic. For theory to have ‘value’ depended on how it could be harnessed to promote key societal projects. The projects have changed but it is a legacy that still generates numerous tensions: the proliferation of frequently short-lived anthropological theory after the 60s (Ortner’s ‘shreds and patches’); the postmodern critique of metanarratives and a retreat into ethnography and phenomenology; the pendulum swing back to a demand for stronger anthropological theory in the 21st century, in concert with the notion of ‘concept metaphors’; the bilateral career paths of applied anthropology – in the service of state and military organizations, corporations and NGOs – or scholarly anthropology with its emphasis on the importance of indigenous perspectives and the cultural specificity of Western projects. These – mostly productive – tensions are what make anthropology what it is today.

This conference invites participants to look beyond conventional divides and to explore and engage with theoretical, methodological, political and ethical questions from every perspective. Some suggested (but by no means limiting) topics include the discussion of new approaches to kinship, materialities, production and consumption or medical anthropology; discussion of new fields in anthropology such as ‘affect’, computer culture or global concerns; methodologies – from participatory action research to visual anthropology or discourse-centred perspectives on culture; exploration of concept metaphors such as nature, space, body and scale; or productive pathways to syncretizing anthropological theory and empirical data in specific research fields.

Calls for sessions and papers

Conference languages: Finnish, English, Swedish (all papers in each session to be presented in the same language).

Finnish Anthropology Conference 2011 is organized with support from Routledge and Beta Analytic Inc.