[URBANTH-L] CFP: AAA Panel on Ethnographies of the Proliferating Rationalities of Capital

Daromir Rudnyckyj daromir at alumni.uchicago.edu
Wed Mar 16 21:35:39 EST 2005

Call for papers- Ethnographies of the Proliferating Rationalities of Capital

This panel investigates the relationship between capitalism and reason in
ethnographic research projects. If, as Max Weber argued, a certain form of
rational asceticism is
at the foundation of "the tremendous cosmos of the modern economic order,"
what forms of reason
emerge in what Timothy Mitchell has called the "para-sites of capitalism"?
Capitalism may have
always been that which exceeds the possibility of knowledge and control on
the part of its human
subjects. This panel turns the formulation around to note that capitalism is
shot through with
alterior practices that imply incongruous rationalities and sometimes wild
irrationalities. In so
doing, it addresses the reflexive relationships between economy, religion,
science, economics, and
management often encountered in contemporary ethnographic fields. How do
current anthropological
conversations, such as millennial capitalism, commodity fetishism, and
neoliberal governmentality,
confront and engage with what constitutes and exceeds capitalism?

Perhaps unique to the domain of ethnography are practices that articulate
value, care and life in
ways that mark specific, contingent forms of reason and unreason. These
projects exist in
sometimes anxious, sometimes cozy relation to the power dynamics that exceed
and enable them.
Attentive to relations of inequality, this panel moves beyond the simple
binary of power and
resistance. These papers bring ethnography to bear on the pragmatics at work
in the ways subjects
of capitalism articulate their own projects with the many leviathans that
live through them. What
contingent forms of knowledge are deployed in these contexts, and with what
consequences? What subjectivities are elicited in relations of production
and exchange, and how do
we analyze the heterogeneous spaces in which these proliferate? How do
people assemble contingent
manipulations of capitalist environs to their own ends? What forms of
ethics, subjectifications,
and disciplines do they mobilize? What naturalizations or domestications are
produced, and what
modes of sociality emerge?

What is anthropologically significant about formations that are temporary
and even fleeting? Is
there room for a concept of denatured culture, and what relations, objects
and spaces would it
adhere to? If it is anthropology's responsibility to question theories that
assimilate differences
into global order, can we expect anything rigorous from the idea of
"capitalism"? What
theorizations of heterogeneity are possible? What commentary do these
practices offer to the big
thinkers of social theory-Marx and Weber, Gramsci and Foucault? This panel
brings together
empirical approaches from a variety of research settings where rationalities
and irrationalities
emerge. Among others, these might include transnational development
projects, zones of production
of things and selves, religious institutions, banks and financial
organizations, scientific
laboratories, or spaces of media consumption and circulation.

This panel will be submitted to the American Anthropological Association for
presentation at the
2005 annual AAA meetings in Washington, DC. Paper abstracts are due asap in
order to meet the
April 1st deadline set by the AAA. Interested panelists should review AAA
guidelines for
presenters to be sure they can fulfill those requirements. Please forward
abstracts to Dar
Rudnyckyj jeromewhitington at berkeley.edu .

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