Between experiencing and ethnographizing in practice-based research

Researchers interested in the sensory awareness, bodily competence, and mindfulness honed by regular participation in practices such as dance, martial arts, yoga, and meditation often take up what Sarah Pink calls a sensory apprenticeship. They undertake to learn the specialized skills and modes of attunement of their interlocutors using their own bodies, opening themselves to sensorial, embodied, and affective ways of knowing that otherwise elude visual observation. However, these practices encourage and even require that practitioners be wholly "present," to maintain an undivided attention to the activity at hand. Consequently, ethnographers must grapple with the theoretical and methodological conundrums between "being in the moment" and "being in their heads." While most apparent in anthropological research on the senses and embodiment, this question of divided attention is relevant even for those ethnographers whose research does not deal explicitly with the body.

This panel considers this particular challenge of using the self as a research site. Far from seeking to bridge the gap between immersive experience and ethnography, we ask instead if the gap might serve as a generative space, one that expands general anthropological understandings and explores perennial methodological concerns. How do ethnographers negotiate such tensions? That is, what tactics might they use to balance the need to be "present" and the work of observation? How can the gaps that arise alert us to new or unexpected research opportunities? How might this moving in and out of the mindful body be reflected in ethnographic writing? 

Kathe Gray, York University

Julien Cossette, University of Chicago

Link for submission:

Materialities of human-animal movement in northern landscapes

This panel invites papers exploring human-animal relations through contexts of movement that transcend conventional wild-tame dichotomies. Based on the key premise that inter-species relations do not have to be collaborative or affectionate to be social, our emphasis lies on ethnographic accounts in which land features and/or material implements form communicative nexuses between beings in motion. Instead of approaching human-made implements and environmental modifications (e.g. cairns, dams, tethers, nets, trails, traps, ponds, canals, etc.) as manifestations of human exploitation or control, we seek more nuanced interpretations that take into account animal autonomy and intentional use of the material world. We inquire how animals are known to engage modified environments, and how people interpret, accommodate, or encourage animal utilization of the human-made. In this context, we ask how objects of joint movement (e.g. sleds, saddles, reins) become implements of inter-species communication rather than of control only, and how dynamic aspects of the environment (e.g. water currents, tides, winds) are enlisted in inter-species movement. Given the emplacement of joint and opposed movements in shared landscapes, we seek to gain a better understanding of how diverse beings draw benefit from material or perceptive advantages they identify in others. We ask, how does relational movement encourage the embodiment and accommodation of an other's perspective (i.e. hunter vs. prey), and in situations of intentional congruence (e.g. falconer and falcon), what are examples of multi-sensorial sharing? Finally, where joint or opposed movement do not apply, what can we learn from other contexts, such as affection, competition, or aloofness?

Convenors: Alexander Oehler (University of Aberdeen), Sarah Carmen Moritz (McGill University) More Information & Submission:

Policy and power in Latin America

Work on public policy provides an avenue for examining how state power is exercised and negotiated in everyday life. A range of case studies in Latin America critically examines the complexity of "the state" and "the public" or "civil society. The ebb and flow of populist, neoliberal and leftist governments makes Latin America a particularly rich site for considering these questions. Likewise, social movements express political visions and make visible the interventions of a variety of type of social actors -poor, wealthy, unionized, indigenous, campesino, corporate, landless... . As we know, differently situated social actors negotiate and experience these processes in distinctive ways; this includes state and non-state actors, acquiescence and resistance. Drawing on a variety of empirical cases and theoretical perspectives, we ask what interventions anthropology can make into thinking about the writing of and about policy.

Lindsay DuBois (Dalhousie University) & Liz Fitting (Dalhousie University). To submit a paper abstract, please go to the conference website:

Disturbing the category of the "refugee": cross-border histories, hospitalities and everyday practices of sovereignty

How do refugees reproduce and regenerate their political struggles across the borders of nation-states? How do their everyday practices subvert the political impotence legally and semantically etched on to the category of the "refugee"? This panel addresses questions of citizenship, hospitality, sovereignty, and state borders by focusing on the everyday life of refugees.  The panelists explore the historical production and daily negotiation of the "refugee" status in various sociopolitical contexts including camps, cities, border towns and villages. They show how this status embodies multiple positionalities organized around sociopolitical relations of hospitality, various forms of mobility and immobility, and contested claims for sovereignty, as negotiated and troubled by refugees, citizens, and state institutions in everyday realms of sociality. Attending to these mundane interactions not only complicates the dominant narratives about refugees that either victimize or demonize them, but also reveals the deep connections between national borders, colonial histories, violence, and displacement. If the legal category of "refugee" builds on the idea of the nation as bounded in space by the inviolability of naturalized borders, cross-border and cross boundary relations of hospitality on the ground continuously unsettle such neat presentations.

Convenors: Secil Dagtas University of Waterloo, Vivian Solana University of Toronto

For more information:





Anthropological fieldworks: moving from the centre to the periphery

Anthropology as a discipline was founded on a colonial base where fieldworkers from Western Europe or the USA studied people they had colonized. The anthropologist held a privileged position as a person from the power center moving from the center to the periphery; the anthropological encounter was between people who were neither equal, in terms of power/knowledge, nor coeval, as the 'field' was almost always conceptualized as caught in a time warp that situated it in the 'past' as compared to the 'present' of the fieldworker. Even after historical decolonization, when the formerly colonized became anthropologists, this outward journey continued, by the researcher moving to the marginal places within their own regions. Rarely has a movement taken place in the opposite direction, when an anthropologist from the Third World studies a community in the First world; and even then the anthropologist has remained as a member of the 'center' in academic terms. In this panel we would like to invite scholars from the 'margins' to re-examine some of the works that have been written about them in a critical perspective, and indeed to consider the validity of the ethnographic project as a whole for the indigenous perspective. How do scholars from the First Nations, from 'tribes', indigenous communities and the Dalits (from South Asia) and other 'marginal' communities and locations, evaluate critically their ethnographies. Where are the points of agreement and disagreement? What is the degree of acceptance? Where do the paths of the fieldworker and his/her field cross?

IUAES Commission on Marginalization and Global Apartheid in collaboration with WCAA

Convenors: Subhadra Channa (Delhi University), Lorne Holyoak (INAC).

Minimize the Movement: Producing and Consuming Local Food

As the world continues its shift to a more urban population, challenges concerning food scarcity and depletion of stocks, climate change, and population growth become more apparent and concentrated. While the global food model often sees food traveling great distances before it reaches the consumer, the local food movement (“Locavores”) represents an alternative model that aims to connect food producers and food consumers in the same geographic region. The resulting food networks are said to be more self-reliant and resilient, and to foster a stronger relationship between producers, distributers, retailers, and consumers. This panel seeks to explore examples of food models impacting local communities and economies. Possible topics include: local foods, food security and social justice; local foods and ecological footprints; ‘food miles and ‘locavorism’ as tropes of ethical living; local food production and models for urban livelihoods; etc.  Colleagues interested by these themes are welcome to contact us.

Session proposed by Rachel Begg and Christine Jourdan, Concordia University. For information:

Bridewealth revisited: the workings of identity

Bridewealth is a topic of longstanding interest within the discipline of anthropology; a sizeable canon discusses bridewealth in relation to topics such as social reproduction, kinship, gift exchange, and the traffic in women under conditions of patriarchy. Much of this work has approached the topic from a relatively ‘wide’ lens, querying what is accomplished through bridewealth exchange and what underlying societal values and relations are sustained and produced through bridewealth negotiations and transactions. With notable exceptions, women themselves have often been muted in such discussions despite their centrality for bridewealth tout court. Given the persistence of bridewealth across a range of societies, and now also in urban centers, in this panel we revisit the topic from the perspective of identity. How is bridewealth interpreted and experienced in contexts where more and more aspects of life are interpreted trough economic-rationalist principles? As social, economic, and political transformations continue to transform family, domesticity, and impetuses for marriage, childbearing, and reproduction, how can we account for the persistence of bridewealth?  How have topics such as human rights and gender equality come to bear on people’s experience of bridewealth?  How is bridewealth being sustained or transformed through the dramatic increase in human migration in the era of globalization?  Drawing on ethnographic research from a range of societies, this panel explores such questions, and others through analyses of contemporary bridewealth exchange Colleagues interested in these themes are welcome to contact us.

Panel proposed by Kathleen Rice (University of Toronto) and Christine Jourdan (Concordia University). For information

What Do Indigenous Artefacts Want?

This panel speaks, in particular, to the movement of Indigenous artefacts.  Archives and museums collect, store and display all varieties of such entities. Each one whether a letter, a map, a drum, a pot, or perhaps entire Regalia, moves in a myriad of ways.  They are animate even in containment, if not in spite of it, and their agency relentlessly demands constant movement between persons, peoples and ways of knowing. Each kind of artefact moves through storied practice, often connecting teachings or laws while illuminating layers of relations.  Artefacts, it could be said, careen into the colonial encounter by their very existence, placing and public service. Yet, through their same performance each holds the immense power of decolonization and resistance.  The seemingly stillness of artefacts is an illusion masking their constant state of flux. That is they fundamentally move in five distinct, but overlapping ways. They quite literally change physical locations. They simultaneously act as mechanisms of cultural persistence and revitalization. They profoundly change our understanding of relations. They bring groups of people together, working to advance their shared political, social, or artistic ideas.  Presentations in this panel speak to these forms of movement vis-à-vis Indigenous artefacts whether they are forms of material culture or archival materials with an added emphasis on decolonization, repatriation and/or cultural revitalization.

Co-Convenors: Maureen Mathews and Joshua Smith

What is impact? Alternative metrics for Anthropology today and tomorrow

Alongside scholarly research and publication, anthropologists have a strong tradition of 'applied' work in Canada and the United States. In recent decades, we have also seen how anthropologists can engage in advocacy and activism through our research (van Esterik 1999; Rylko-Bauer, Sanjeck 2004; Singer, & John Van Willigen 2006; Low & Engle Merry 2010; Juris 2014). In the face of increasing precarity in the university labour market around the world today, more and more anthropologists are now finding work applying their unique skills set and perspective in non-traditional or 'altac' careers. Echoing these changes, we have witnessed a growth in anthropological literature, and commentary published from an anthropological perspective in publicly accessible formats (such as in new open-access journals and web platforms, blogs, and online news) that tackle broader social issues for non-specialist audiences (Borofsky 2011; Hylland Eriksen 2006). Recent calls for anthropologists to embrace the 'slow academic' movement have surfaced at the same time that altmetrics appear to showcase the fast pace and timely nature of anthropology through public engagement, advocacy, or activist work. In the context of these intersecting developments, this panel asks about the impact of anthropology today, and for the anthropology of tomorrow. We invite a range of papers that engage with the question of the impact of anthropology in the public sphere. Papers might address issues such as: the possibilities and impact of 'altmetrics' for the discipline; our goals for teaching the next generation of students; or considering what a public anthropology means today.

Our panel has been accepted as part of the "Worlds in motion: Anthropology in movement" stream. If you are interested in proposing a paper to our panel, please follow this link to the online portal:

When Worldings Meet: Ethnographically Taking Stock of the Ontological Turns, their (possible) Connections, and Movements

An increasing number of commentators recognize the plurality and divergence of projects that have been compressed under the label of ‘ontological turn.’ For instance, while they might share a common concern with the modernist nature/culture ontological divide, the projects of Descola, Ingold, Viveiros de Castro, Strathern, Latour, Law, Mol, Haraway, Verran, and Povinelli - to mention some of the most established figures associated with the ‘turn’ - are not the same. In this panel we want to take stock on how are concerns with ontology or ontologies being taken, combined and reinvented in concrete ethnographic settings. For example, how do tropes of multi-species and more-than-human assemblages rub against tropes of ‘ontological alterity’ in ways that illuminate ethnography? But, more importantly, how does the specificity of ethnographic settings push back on these kinds of tropes requiring their reworking? By ethnographic setting we mean thinking on these issues from fieldwork examples but also from the circumstances (e.g., national disciplinary traditions, overarching national/regional political debates and so on) in which colleagues in different geographical places take and operationalize some of these ideas; are these ideas mere academic fads (as some critics imply) or do they speak to concrete on-the-ground problems? If the latter, how? adapting to what circumstances? We welcome theoretically and/or case-based reflections as long as they can help ‘map’ where and how the ontological turns are moving conceptually and geographically.

Convenors: Mario Blaser, Florencia Tola Panel page:

Shifting alterities? Summoning contemporary figures of difference

Juxtaposing heterogeneous phenomena such as transgressive neo-orientalist hijabi porn, quasi literal attempts at becoming animals in nature writing and the self-prophetic otherness of techno-algorithmic representations, may surely elicit a chuckle reminiscent of Foucault's famous encounter with Borges' Chinese Encyclopedia. Such a moving and multifaceted landscape may indeed "disturb […] our age-old distinction between the Same and the Other (Foucault 1966)." At the very least, it should gear us towards questioning some of manifold manners in which difference is constantly summoned, accessed, enacted, transgressed, negotiated, and problematized. These examples show not the "exotic charm of another system of thought" - Foucault again - but both our own insatiable quests for difference and the ways in which it seizes us. Examining such salient contemporary shifts and displacements in figures of alterity - both in its human and nonhuman forms -, will allow us to engage with and problematize (re)emerging relations to and experiences of differences.

Convenors: Marie-Claude Haince (University of Ottawa / Université de Montréal), Phillip Rousseau (Université de Montréal). For information:

Moving beyond the home discipline: where is anthropology going in multi-disciplinary research and community-based research?

Anthropologists are increasingly called upon to collaborate with interdisciplinary research teams and to partner with community-based groups that wish to engage governments and broader publics. In both cases, the anthropologist may spend much time working outside of their home department, and must become adept at moving back and forth between anthropology and other disciplines as well as between academic spaces and other spaces of work. Anthropologists moving betwixt and between fieldwork sites, academic settings, and public spaces must also be adept at moving knowledge between various stakeholders to facilitate the goals of these interdisciplinary and community-based partnerships. Such collaborative teams hinge upon effective knowledge exchange and knowledge translation in cross-cultural as well as cross-disciplinary settings to ensure the accessibility of knowledge disseminated to broad audiences of knowledge users.

In this panel, we invite papers that reflect on the ways in which anthropological theories, methods, and even anthropologists themselves are increasingly called upon to facilitate the multi-directional movement of ideas, knowledge, and goals within diverse multi-disciplinary teams and community-based research groups. In what ways do anthropological lenses illuminate the flows of ideas and meanings between communities, different academic disciplines, and broader publics? How can these lenses also reveal the sources of barriers and blockages? What obstacles challenge effective movement of knowledge in the multi-disciplinary teams that anthropologists are part of? And finally, what may anthropologists who move largely outside of an anthropology department bring back to our own discipline?

Convenors: Megan Highet (University of Alberta), Sally Carraher. For information:

Making and remaking the city

How is the city made and remade? We will gather reflections on processes of urban transformation, whether they seek to make the city anew or to reconstruct it as it used to be. We are interested in both strategies and tactics of city-making, in de Certeau's terms - calculated actions deployed from a position of power (strategies) or more informal or even furtive 'poaching' actions made from the margins (tactics). We are thinking of all kinds of modes of fabrication (technologies, infrastructure, representations, craft, festivals, do-it-yourself movements, etc.), of official discourses and vernacular ones, of social and symbolic construction as much as material production.

Questions we raise include, but are not limited to these: Emerging models of urban planning based on a return to a city of proximity emphasize densification and the reenchantment of urban space, but how do these models bear up to reality when they are developed? When municipal governments ask for public consultations or even citizen interventions, do we end up with free, creative participation or does it instead burden citizens with more responsibility, while absolving political instances from it? What grassroots initiatives escape regulation or surveillance by official codes of manufacture? What city emerges from such actions and their interactions?

We seek to underline the movement between the individual and the collective, between private and political interests, between authenticity and the avant-garde. In these ways, our panel investigates the making and the remaking of the city.

Convenors: Martha Radice (Dalhousie University), Nathalie Boucher (Université de Montréal)

Moving beyond the formal/informal dichotomy: Implications for governance

In the last decade, in anthropology and other disciplines, there has been a resurgence in studies of informality. Scholarship has taken exciting new approaches to informality and its intersections with politics. The debates on informality are mainly structured along dichotomous formal/informal or legal/illegal lines, where government/law equates to formality, or along the Global North/Global South divide, in which the North stands for formality and the South equals informality. Recently a more nuanced understanding has emerged. In this view, the formal and the informal are always and everywhere intertwined. The economy, human settlements or politics are never structured only along institutional lines, but are also enacted in personalized actions and transactions. Domains that seem very formal also contain informal practices. Likewise, domains that seem very informal are also shaped by formal procedures and arrangements. In this panel, we will move beyond the formal/informal dichotomy and aim to develop a novel analytical framework for understanding how formal and informal practices are interconnected.  Papers will address questions such as: How does movement from informality to formality, or vice versa, affect the dynamics of a field of practice and its consequences for different groups of people?  Does formalization increase the potential for social mobility, or close off paths that are only available because of uncertain legal status?  We are particularly interested in the implications of these changing views and dynamics for governance and politics at all scales. 

Convenors: Alan Smart, University of Calgary, Martijn Koster, Radboud University, Nijmegen

For more information:

Towards an anthropology of embodied mobilities

The human species has been on the move since people were able to stand upright, a human powered mobility that meets various needs. Historical developments in transport technologies have radically altered both the purpose and physical experience of travelling. For those who can afford it and are allowed to, contemporary travels are commonly characterized by increased comfort, speed, and distance. Interestingly, however, highly industrialized societies are witnessing an increasing move (back) towards so-called 'active' and human powered modes of transportation in terms of daily home-work movements, recreational mobilities (walking, cycling or running being the most popular ones), and travels (e.g. walking tours, hiking and trails, and 'pilgrimages'). What precisely is at stake in this trend? How do these sought after bodily motions (and the related emotions) compare to the forcibly 'slow' modes of mobility by many refugees (e.g. those desperately trying to enter the EU) or to the historical journeys of long-distance pilgrims? What does active movement (in contrast to being moved) do to our bodies and minds? How does 'active' movement affect the way we interact and think about our environments or sense of place? What do active movers hope to achieve (apart from the obvious health benefits)? Which transformations are desired and which ones obtained? Based on ethnographic data and innovative conceptual frameworks, this panel will address these and related questions.

Convenors: Noel B. Salazar (University of Leuven), Linda McNenly (Wilfrid Laurier)

Living landscapes: Nomadic and Sedentary

We explore treaties and similar agreements with Indigenous Peoples from a range of perspectives across regional and national contexts, both in Canada and beyond. We consider historical and modern treaties, as well as communities who are embroiled in problematic long-term negotiation or implementation of agreements, and those who refuse to enter such processes at all. The topic of treaties is related to questions of relational movements, co-existence, territorial entanglements, and living landscapes. In keeping with such themes we ask, how do we bring shifting relationships to the center of anthropological analysis; and, how may entangled assemblages of people and territory become reconciled to one another?

In Canada, treaties have been building blocks of the nation-state and of new Indigenous relational identities for over 150 years. Internationally, for many Indigenous Peoples, treaties provide the means to elaborate a particular historical, spiritual, and national consciousness. Conversely, for settler populations in colonial states, treaties provide a means to reconcile their presence to the existence and continuity of rights-bearing Indigenous Peoples. Such agreements constitute a gift-specified relationship extending beyond the human parties to the treaty by encompassing both territory and non-human entities - historically accomplished through the use of sacred oratory and ceremony both in New France and Western Canada. According to Asch, treaties can provide settlers an ethical relational basis for "being here to stay," expressed by Cree elders as Witaskêwin (translation: "living together on [or with ('wi-') - convenors] the land") in Cardinal & Hildebrandt. The panel explores and imagines such relationships with territories and people.

Chair Clinton Westman, Discussant Sylvie Poirier. More information:


Life in movement: becomings of the bodies

From the concept of body-object to the performative body, anthropology has traveled a meandrous way to consider the body as an important site of theory making. Going beyond biological descriptions that insist on a singular/universal body, and moving toward a body multiple approach (which attempts to consider bodies, constituted and perceived in different paths by different actors), anthropologists have been lately trying to consider the body as an open ended field of sensory experience that comprises human/non-human entanglements.

Drawing inspiration on Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology, Ingold's anthropology of life studies and Mol's concept of body multiple, this panel invites us to renounce biological definitions of the body-object as a steady frame composed of cells and tissues. Rather, we quest for ethnographic and theoretical contributions by anthropologists who are interested in alternative body-subject approaches, in which bodies are considered as permeable beings open to the surrounding world of humans/non-humans by ceaseless improvisational moving within the flows of life. Perceiving the world through lived experiences of moving bodies (roaming in the open air, being enwinded or immersed with water, dancing within the flows of music), improvised bodies, and bodies as becoming beings (not already completed ones only to be monitored, repaired and restored) are some of our suggestions for this panel. Moreover, many health care practices and healing rituals as well as chiropractic, massage, acupuncture and even some emerging forms of pet and music therapies can be said to attend to bodies in movement in their own ways that can be further explored.

Convenors: Nima Jangouk (University of Ottawa), Luciane Machado Freitas de Souza (University of Ottawa)

Moving from marginalization to mutuality [Commission on Marginalization and Global Apartheid]

This panel challenges global structures and discourses of inequality and exclusion by exploring emergent discourses and modes of movement from marginalization to mutuality. We view this as critical to furthering anthropological resources for the critique of contemporary permutations in global inequality. The panel will depart from both the resurgence and present danger of movements that literally, figuratively, and violently exclude persons and collectivities, and from the movement of people and peoples across boundaries of nations and constructed social spaces as immigrants, indigenous persons and peoples, persons of all genders, ethnicities and identities, and persons and communities of diverse religions and commitments.

This panel will examine the reconfiguration of relations that are necessarily contested and re-made through these movements of people and ideas. The panel will problematise those pervasive, misleading and subtle enactments of inequality that take the form of marginalization, that is, those that appear to achieve or welcome moves toward equality, while instead shifting lines and veiling barriers. The panel will examine resources and practices that instead open routes toward relations of mutuality, arguing that it is fundamentally through the refiguring of social relations that inequality can be deprived of ground to exist.

The panel will span three sessions. The first will critically engage international work in anthropology on mutuality. The second will ethnographically explore diverse social and discursive structures of inequality and marginalization. The third will engage with practices to move anthropology toward decentred, innovative and socially grounded enactments of mutuality.

Convenors: Ellen Judd (University of Manitoba), Andrew 'Mugsy' Spiegel (University of Cape Town)

Metaphor: Transfer and the Motion of Language

Multidisciplinary studies in language and cognition have argued for decades that the metaphorical nature of human language is a symptom of the fundamentally metaphorical nature of human cognition.  For centuries metaphor, from the Greek metapherin, or transfer, was primarily the purview of rhetorical, literary, and most recently linguistic study.  What are the implications for anthropology of recent arguments concerning the metaphorical nature of language?  How does language move our minds, frame our conceptions, and animate our realities?  How does human language, as a symbolic system always in motion, inhibit or undermine ideological attempts to fix cultural paradigms and practices? How do human beings construct stable realities (or the illusion thereof?) from fluid forms and semantic values?

This panel encourages the submission of papers concerning language in motion and as motion. In the face of literacy, urbanization, and programs of national identity, languages have changed, with outcomes from standardization to creolization to language death.  How do people innovate linguistically in situations where they called on to extend and change cultural paradigms and practices?  As they construct new syntheses of past and present, what kinds of stories do people tell about themselves, their histories, and their futures, and how do they use use new media to tell those stories? Finally, what role do artists play in both perpetuating existing structures of meaning and extending language?

Convenors: Alexis Black (Concordia University), Jean DeBernardi (University of Alberta) 


By whose authority: Investigating alternative modes of power and the legitimization of expertise

How might anthropologists contextualise claims that we are now entering a "post-factual" world? This panel explores the variety of ways in which authority is contested, particularly with the expansion of global institutions and the rapid spread of universalizing forms of knowledge. Failing to generate a homogenous modernity that invariably overrules local concepts by the power of its principles, these globalized developments urge questions concerning which institution, what kind of knowledge, or whose expertise is accepted as authoritative - questions indicating complex mechanisms of negotiation that highlight the specificities and pluralities in 'modern' society. The inherent contradictions between what is perceived as local vs. global forms of knowledge, between different discourses vying for social acceptance, constitutes an open-ended processes that question traditions, create spaces, transform hierarchies, and prioritize values. This panel addresses the different strategies by which conflicting perspectives on authority are negotiated in local settings. It fosters critical debate on different modes to maintain (and challenge) social structures or institutions that allocate decision-making privileges to groups of people based on specific criteria (e.g. claims of scientific expertise, democratic legitimacy, moral normativity, economic viability, technical consistency, etc.). The panel invites contributors highlighting the processes of negotiation between conflicting claims of authority. Possible contributions may investigate discourses on science and religion in local healing practices, the impact of biopolitics or material resources on local policy, competitions between "traditional" versus "bureaucratic" forms of authority in government, grassroots environmentalism challenging technical knowledge on land use, or discussions concerning outsider/insider expertise of political candidates in U.S. political landscapes, among many others.
Convenors: Arne S. Steinforth, York University (, Sandra Widmer, York University (

More information:

Talking Like a State: Political Narrative in Everyday Life

Using diverse theoretical approaches, anthropologists have studied the relationship between state apparatuses and non-state actors, and the processes by which “the state” becomes objectified, legitimated, or undermined. Central to these processes is the production and usage of official state narratives. Such narratives might find expression in history books, public rituals, historical sites, civic education programs, and sometimes in everyday talk. Depending on the historical and ethnographic context, state narratives can be flexible, rigid, or can even be backed by legal sanctions if they are publicly contested. This panel focuses on the place of state narratives of history, culture, or politics in everyday social life. How do these narratives get produced and by whom? And once they become publicly available, who puts them to work and for what purposes? How do diverse social actors engage with state narratives, whether they are imposed, shared, contested, or some combination thereof? What alliances, conflicts, or movements coalesce around these forms of knowledge?

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

-the place of narrative in state formation projects and forging political legitimacy

-the contradictory uses or implications of official narratives of history

-competing official narratives, how they are deployed, and for what agendas

-the stories that social actors tell about themselves by invoking official histories

-knowledge production about the past, ownership of that knowledge, and how it circulates

Convenor: Laura Eramian, Dalhousie University

More information:

Collaborative uncertainties and the politics of knowledge production

Although collaboration has always been a part of anthropological research, emphasis on more ethical engagement has opened up new avenues for exploration and a reconstitution of the boundaries between researcher and "researched." A push towards the co-production of knowledge, participatory action research, and other forms of negotiated practice, are producing a new and exciting body of work. However, collaboration is not without challenges. At CASCA 2014, Dr. Andrew Walsh organized a round-table on the "Promising Uncertainties of Collaboration in Anthropology Today." In follow-up to that session, we welcome papers that seek to critically examine both the methodological and theoretical possibilities, challenges, and assumptions associated with collaborative research.

Within this context, we wonder how our ideas of collaboration shifted over time. How is our research enriched through collaborative practices? In what ways does collaboration complicate the research endeavour? When is it appropriate not to collaborate? When does collaboration become unethical? How does collaboration shape knowledge production? How is the co-production of knowledge negotiated 

Convenors: Nathan Dawthorne (University of Western Ontario), Kelly Abrams (Western University )

More-than-human Moves: Of Everyday Entanglements and the Academy

Within the humanities and social sciences a nonhuman or more-than-human approach to writing and research has become a prominent genre. This is an epistemological move that underscores humans are ever-entangled with nonhuman animals, technologies, the environment and spiritual entities. Anthropologists, perhaps due to the centrality of anthropos in the discipline, were slow to respond to broader moves to decentre the human subject.  However, the publication of the special issue The Emergence of Multispecies Ethnography in the journal Cultural Anthropology in 2010 prompted a growing number of anthropologists to focus on more-than-human conceptualizations as valuable in understanding and describing everyday interactions. Nevertheless, movement towards such an approach in anthropology is often resisted by the power structures of universities where more quantitative and rigid regimes of classification—nature/culture or human/animal for example—remain.  This round table discussion focuses on how the nonhuman turn informs the work of participants and how they maneuver within the academy. Put concretely, why and how is the nonhuman turn prominent in your work and what are the implications of more-than-human research for methods and practices?

Organizer: Paul Hansen, Hokkaido University (

River deltas as living landscapes: movement, management, and the critique of a commonplace

Life along rivers and coasts is anything but static. The places commonly referred to as "deltas" are not only sites of dense movements of substances, animals, people, technology and expertise. They also fluctuate among liquid, solid and other in-between states of matter.

Deltas have recently received renewed attention from anthropologists and other social scientists. Some study deltas because of their vulnerability due to climate change; others explore the imaginative potential of their alterity for undoing modern land/water and nature/culture oppositions, and the often destructive management practices they enable.

Yet, a tendency remains to assume that the area characterized by sediment deposits and multiple distributaries at the end of a river IS essentially a delta, even in accounts that trace different delta ontologies. The assumption that a river end is necessarily a delta naturalizes a historically specific hydrological enactment that emerged in The Netherlands and travelled with Dutch expertise via colonial and development encounters.

This panel will investigate deltas as living landscapes in order to probe the ways in which a river end may exist as something other than a delta, and the implications of (not) doing so. What practices, processes, infrastructures, and stories compose river ends as living landscapes that exceed expert hydrological enactments? In what ways have inhabitants appropriated expert hydrological knowledge or been displaced by it? How might the existence of river ends as something other than deltas open up new conversations about social and ecological justice, movement and fluctuation, and alternative futures for these more-than-human landscapes?

Panel Conveners: Tanya Richardson (Wilfrid Laurier University), Franz Krause (University of Cologne)

The deadline for submission is December 19. For more information see:

Challenging overarching narratives and discourses surrounding 'Movement'

This panel focuses on the differing experiences of human movement, which are often neglected under strict guidelines and laws related to immigration, refugee claims, settlement, relocation, property, rights, identity, tourism, and concerns for national or other borders. We bear witness to a globalized world where "movement" is aggressively channeled, contested, regulated, and denied, as several historical and contemporary examples can attest: removal of Aboriginal, Roma, and Gypsy children from families for assimilation purposes; undermining legitimate immigration or refugee claims because of suspicion of the 'cultural other' and/or social, political, and economical ignorance; fear and suspicion of Nomads by a hegemonic authority. Borders, which restrict movement, are reinforced at local levels by reserving prime urban spaces for capitalist edifices or gated communities for the wealthy, while marginalized others live in slums or ethnic ghettos. This panel seeks to bring to the fore people's narratives and lived experiences to serve as counterpoints to the globalized and overarching narratives and discourse surrounding "movement" in a world in motion.

Convenors: Louise de la Gorgendiere (Carleton University), Judith Okely (Oxford University/University of Hull):

Everyday neoliberalism

In Debt to Society: Accounting for Life Under Capitalism Miranda Joseph follows the lead of Lisa Duggan to depict neoliberalism as a diffuse cultural project, the key terms of which - privatization and personal responsibility - play out in the most ordinary domains of life, mundane arenas that we are increasingly impelled to inhabit as entrepreneurial subjects, even if we do so in the mode of failure. Likewise, Philip Mirowski argues in Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste that we will not get to grips with how neoliberalism has survived its evident failure as an economic program unless we address the extent to which its sensibilities now constitute "the unremarkable furniture of waking life," a way of being that he describes as "everyday neoliberalism."

This panel will explore the intersection of neoliberalism's economic and cultural dimensions in various domains of everyday life - domains that are increasingly difficult to disentangle, as life more and more becomes an arena for neoliberalism's contradictory demands of risk taking and responsibility. Among others, these include universities and (other) workplaces, home life, volunteerism, and recreation. Papers might offer (auto-)ethnographic accounts of everyday life in the aftermath of what is commonly called the global financial crisis and/or address, among other topics: the social, cultural, economic and policy architecture of lived neoliberalism and its gaps or cracks; the paradoxes of attachment to the corporatized university; and prospects for contestation.

Convenor: Robin Whitaker (Memorial University of Newfoundland)

Moving Bodies: Sport, Gender, and Embodiment

While sport cannot be defined in a cross-culturally meaningful ways, it constitutes a significant social domain in a range of complex societies. As a common social domain, sport brings and motivates bodies into motion while also imposing restrictions upon the particular ways one can move in a given sporting context.  In an international sporting arena, institutions such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) have formed and attempt to maintain a complex set of rules in order to craft very particular forms of bodily movement, thus bringing into existence new particular ways of utilizing one's body in time and space.  As part of this creation, a set of rules strictly forbids what bodies can do in given sporting context - football is not handball - as well as who can participate in given sporting domains, such as female athletics, for example.
In this session, we invite scholars to investigate this meeting of creation, affect, skill, and restriction in movement practices in relation to the at times elusive and culturally variable domain of sport.  As part of this, we are interested in examining some of the distinctions between how male and female bodies are encouraged, discouraged, or at times even forbidden from moving and how this interplay touches both on materiality and meaning.
Panel Conveners:  Katja Pettinen (Mount Royal University) and Mary-Lee
Mulholland (Mount Royal University). Please send a title and 250 word abstract to Katja Pettinen ( or Mary-Lee Mulholland ( by
December 15th.

Cuban movements: new frontiers of research in anthropology?

Since the 1970s, Cuban scholars argue that Cuba is in a state of transition. But Cuba has always been in movement. Yet, indicators suggest that this socialist island of the Caribbean is recently moving faster. On December 17, 2014 -Day of San Lazaro -Raúl Castro and Barack Obama announced that diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United Stated would be progressively 'normalized'. Since then, many things happened: the exponential increase of tourism, and the installation of wi-fi antennas in public spaces like parks are two striking examples. This panel digs into those Cuban movements, the cultural, political, environmental, economic and social undercurrents that are affecting Cubans' lives today. Questions of access, gender, race, and locality, among others, are explored and connected to other concerns, such as infrastructural, political, and technological.

In such a changing climate, we would like to gather a group of scholars who have been / are conducting research in Cuba to engage with the movements, dynamics and changes that are observed. We want to question how those movements do impact our works as anthropologists today. In reflecting on our experiences and thoughts, this panel aims at provoking a conversation about how those Cuban movements are being entangled within our research projects and questionings. Furthermore, we wish to explore how an expected increase of exchanges between foreign and Cuban scholars can potentially create new frontiers of research in anthropology.

Convenors: Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier (University of Victoria), Sabrina Doyon (Université Laval)

North of 49, West of GMT, South of Pecos:  Anthropology & Technoscience Mo(u)vements in Canada and Beyond

A longstanding conversation needs to be had on how Anthropological engagement with technoscience (reckoned broadly) has developed in Canada and elsewhere –  yet beyond US anthropology (if also in dialogue with it).  In Canada, although anthropologists engaging technoscience are present in several universities and sites of action, they have not as yet coalesced into a national community, an outcome that would otherwise be welcome.  Might this lack of coalescence be an effect of economies of scale;  the effect of diverse research interests or institutional locations;  or possibly the common embedding of technoscience in more heterogenous socionatural, political projects and concerns?   Apart from asking how things came to be, this roundtable also ask how are things moving differently in this area in Canada.  And what has been happening in other, non-US anthropologies, as in the range of anthropologies emergent in Latin America, and elsewhere?  How might the action in all these areas merge or diverge, in generative ways with what is taking place in Canada?Indeed, are they moving more dynamically and generatively, and if so, why?

This roundtable is meant as the beginning of a national discussion in Canada, so is necessarily open-ended and reaching out to other anthropologists and anthropologies for the most part based outside the US.  Several questions will be explored:  What is the character of these anthropological engagements with Technoscience?  What sorts of projects are anthropologists undertaking?  Are there consistencies with and divergences from lines of practice that have dominated US (and European) approaches?  Are there certain thematics, emergent matters of concern, animating these wider anthropologies?  How do worldly, planetary, events and forces impinge on our work?  Are there lines of flight away from usual horizons of practice detectable in these terrains of scholarly engagement? And how might productive conversations and articulation of these anthropological engagements with technoscience challenge and grow in new directions, in with organized or organic ways?

Each of the discussants (up to 12) in the roundtable will have 3-4 minutes to locate their work, and to bring an animating point to one of the larger questions being considered.  This will be followed by a collecting together of views and observations from all attending, students and established researchers alike. This format of quick-reflex presentations is meant to generate motion, with the idea of picking this up both post-session at these meetings, and in more diverse and pointed panels and interchanges in subsequent CASCA and IUAES gatherings.

Brian Noble, organizer. Please send notification of interest, with brief description of your research and engagements in the area, to

The Cultural Phenomenology of Movement

The phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty has referred to the experience of movement as a “praktognosia”, an original way of knowing the world. Phenomenology has shown, moreover, that movement and perception are inextricably intertwined with each other: every appearance of the world suggests a way of moving one’s body, and every bodily movement immediately translates into a changed perception of the world. It is from the incessant interplay between these aspects that experiential reality arises, over time producing the structures of meaningful experience that anthropologists call “culture”.

When anthropologists study corporeal movement, however, they tend to focus on the ways in which gestures, practices and habits express existing, historically grown systems of cultural meanings and social contexts.   Relatively rarely are they concerned with the question how lived experiences of movement are also constitutive of the meanings they express.

For our panel we invite papers which aspire to do just that, to connect corporeal movement as a mode of experience to the emergence, transformation, construction and, possibly, destruction of socio-cultural worlds. Papers can approach the topic empirically or theoretically; they can focus on the experience of one’s own movements or of others, including non-human entities and agents.  As for theoretical perspective, we welcome papers in the area of phenomenology broadly conceived, that is including other approaches concerned with experience, e.g. performative anthropology, psychoanalysis, neuropsychology, semiotics. Empirical topics are open, but we regard the areas of ritual, politics, arts and sports as particularly fertile for demonstrating the phenomenological interrelationship between motility and culture.

Conveners: Bernhard Leistle (Carleton University) and Julie Laplante (University of Ottawa)

Moving words: movement, mobility, and migration in language revitalization

Language revitalization projects entail not only efforts to move metaphorically movement toward a goal, but also introduce new dynamics of literal movement of people into and out of spaces and places . By considering how language ideologies shape the ways that speakers think of their languages as either mobile or immobile resources, and of themselves as mobile or immobile speaking subjects, we wish to better understand how members of endangered language communities conceptualize their own movement and mobility in relation to language.

Language revitalization programs influence mobility and movement in a variety of ways. How do these projects relate to conditions of diaspora and urbanization? How are spaces and communities dissolved and recreated through this process? How does language intersect with place in the making and remaking of identities in contexts of revitalization? How do people take language into consideration when deciding whether or not to relocate? As language revitalization programs bring new people into communities, what roles do these newcomers then play? How do processes and patterns of movement intersect with efforts to expand domains of language use?

In studying how speakers and their words move, we aim to shed light on what happens to languages and communities as a result of language revitalization. As places are discursively and ideologically connected to different forms of language use, and as speakers reconfigure the boundaries of their communities, these examinations will open up new ways of understanding both language revitalization and experiences of mobility and migration in minority language communities.

Convenors: Sarah Shulist (MacEwan University), Jenanne Ferguson (University of Nevada-Reno)


Indigenizing the Academy: New Moves in Coloniality

Indigenous peoples around the world are engaged in, among others, various forms of physical, discursive, political and economic movement. They are also involved in resisting constructions of their mobility as a political-economic problem by various state and corporate actors. Settlers around the world, uncomfortable with these contexts and actions, attempt to re-frame, recalibrate and block this resistance. Anthropologists continue to play a role in understanding, translating, collaborating and building relationships with Indigenous movements while sometimes being criticized for this work by Indigenous peoples. This panel will interrogate Indigenous mobility and the role of anthropologists play in it across a host of vectors. For example, what anti-racist projects are enacted to confront Settler resistance to Indigenous mobility? How are movement discourses of recognition, reconciliation and healing etc. being furthered and/or contested? How is consultation being mobilized in treaty negotiations and/or other Indigenous/state/corporate contexts? What Indigenous protests are mobilized to confront dissatisfactions, oppressions and securitizations? How is how the new mobility of Indigenous peoples disrupting racism, multiculturalism, nation building and normalizing discourses? How are forms of media used by Indigenous peoples, Settlers and anthropologists to advocate for and/or against the above movements? How is Indigenous knowledge changing medical praxis and resource extraction regimes? How are anthropologists seen as allies or as hindrances in these movements and resistances? This panel will consider other views on movement, Indigenous peoples and anthropologists.

Dr. Craig Proulx, St. Thomas University, 1 506 452-0462,


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Contact Info

Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA)
c/o Karli Whitmore
125 rue Jean de la Londe, #301
Baie d'Urfe (Québec) H9X 3T8