[URBANTH-L]Call for papers: NGOs as agents of globalization

Mark A. Schuller marky at umail.ucsb.edu
Thu Feb 23 23:34:25 EST 2006


The debate about globalization continues in anthropology. Some 
anthropologists, like Trouillot (2003) caution against anthropologists 
buying into this rhetoric, and others, especially adherents of 
Wallerstinian world systems analysis, argue that this ?globalization? 
is not something new. Much of these debates about the nature of 
globalization roughly trace the epistemological divides of our 
discipline. Drawing from psychoanalytic (?flows?) and Foucauldian 
(?biopower?) theories, humanistic anthropologists emphasize the 
generative role of globalization in the proliferation of, and a return 
to, ?culture.? Other anthropologists, especially those with a Marxist, 
social scientific orientation, focus on the transformation of political 
and economic governance structures.

A concern with both general approaches to globalization is finding the 
field: where and how do anthropologists study this phenomenon? There 
are few guidelines except for inspirational review articles by Kearney 
and Marcus, among others. How do we, as anthropologists, with our 
traditional focus on lived experience and subaltern actors (despite the 
turn to multi-sited ethnography and ?studying up?), comprehend and 
participate in discussions about globalization?

This panel is an attempt to answer this question. Nongovernmental 
organizations (NGOs) are positioned as intermediaries within the world 
system. Their funding streams, if not their institutional 
decision-making structures, are multinational and usually foreign to 
the area in which work. This presents tensions, as NGOs are often cited 
as having some claim to legitimacy because of their closer connection 
to ?the local? than Southern governments. NGOs gathered at the World 
Social Forum are also breathing life into an anthropological 
imagination, asserting that ?another world is possible.? This panel is 
seeking to explore the dynamics of this change in donor flows: what 
roles are NGOs playing as intermediaries of this arguably new juridical 
and geopolitical configuration? Are NGOs building new multinational 
networks that encourage south-south collaboration, a ?globalization 
from below?? Are local people more connected and ?empowered? as 
definitions and techniques of power are rewritten? Or are NGOs the 
vehicle by which Northern countries and multinational agencies are 
eroding nation-state sovereignty through the privatization (and 
multinationalization) of the public interest? Are NGOs tools of 
?westernization? and integration into a single world market benefiting 
multinational corporations ? creating new sources for labor and markets 
for products?

It is precisely these questions that demand an up-close, engaged 
anthropology of NGOs.  I am seeking ethnographically-based analyses of 
a broad range of organizational types, geographic locations, and 
theoretical / methodological approaches to engage in this conversation.

Looking to complete a panel mostly put together for AAA meetings in San 
Jose.  Panel will be submitted to SUNTA and APLA for review next week, 
so please e-mail Mark Schuller at marky at umail.ucsb.edu by February 27.

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