[URBANTH-L]ANN: Cosmopolitanism and Anthropology (Keele, UK)

Angela Jancius acjancius at ysu.edu
Wed Mar 22 02:04:04 EST 2006

Cosmopolitanism and Anthropology
10th - 13th April 2006 (Monday-Thursday), University of Keele, UK

ASA 2006 Diamond Jubilee

Keynote speakers to include Stuart Hall, Andre Beteille and Elizabeth 

Plenary speakers and chairs: Joel Kahn, Jonathan Friedman, Richard Fardon, 
Richard Werbner, Chris Hann, Marilyn Strathern, Richard Wilson, Birgit 
Meyer, Bruce Kapferer, Jonathan Parry, Alan Macfarlane, David Graeber.

Conference venue:
Keele University is located in the Staffordshire countryside. The University 
has excellent conference facilities in a rural setting (it was voted best in 
the country for several years recently). The inclusive price for the 
conference, including full board and ensuite accommodation, is approximately 
£250, but is given in detail on the Registration form.

Main themes:
Anthropology as a cosmopolitan discipline
Normative cosmopolitanism (human rights, global justice, global 
governmentality, NGOs etc.)
'Rooted' Cosmopolitanism
Cosmpolitan spaces (cities, artworlds, pilgrimage centres, factories, mines, 
Elite versus demotic cosmopolitanism (especially in the postcolony)
Cosmopolitan institutions (e.g. museums)
Globalisation, cosmopolitanism and cultural hybridity (migration, diaspora, 
occupational travellers, pilgrims, popular culture).
Cosmopolitan subjectivity/consciousness

In the past decade, debates on cosmopolitanism have engaged a wide range of 
disciplines, from political theory to sociology, critical studies and social 
history. The multiplication of collections, edited journal issues and 
readers reflects this growing centrality of the topic in the social 
sciences, as does the list of leading theorists intervening in the debate 
from different disciplinary perspectives.  Among these, anthropologists have 
made from the start original contributions (beginning with Ulf Hannerz, the 
list is growing and includes, among others, Adam Kuper, James Clifford, 
Arjun Appadurai, Richard Werbner, Jonathan Friedman, Bruno Latour, Aiwa Ong, 
Paul Rabinow, Joel Kahn, Pnina Werbner and Steven Vertovec).

Moving away from the dominant stress in globalisation theory on financial 
and media flows, contemporary theorisations of cosmopolitanism reflect upon 
globalisation from an aesthetic and moral perspective. One tendency has been 
to think of cosmopolitanism as transgressing the parochialism or ethnicism 
of the nation-state. In this view, cosmopolitans are travellers who move 
beyond national boundaries, and hence a cosmopolitan social science must 
study these flows and movements, or reflect on issues of global justice, 
human rights and governmentality. This apparently commonsensical view has 
been challenged, however, in a deservedly much cited article by Kwame 
Anthony Appiah, 'Cosmopolitan Patriots', in which he argues that 
cosmopolitanism is equally an argument within postcolonial states on 
citizenship, equal dignity, cultural rights and the rule of law. Appiah 
speaks of a 'rooted' cosmopolitanism, and proposes that cosmopolitans begin 
from membership in morally and emotionally significant communities 
(families, ethnic groups) while espousing notions of toleration and openness 
to the world, the transcendance of ethnic difference and the moral 
incorporation of the other. His vision opens up scope for a cosmopolitan 
anthropology which builds on anthropological strengths of fieldwork in 
particular locales.

Can there be a cosmopolitan anthropology?  One central aim of the conference 
is to reflect back in order to consider the place and contribution of 
British and Commonwealth anthropology to current debates on cosmopolitanism 
and cosmopolitans. An argument can be put that anthropology has always been 
a cosmopolitan social science par excellence. Hence, Kuper has argued 
against postmodern critiques of anthropology that we should aspire to 
contribute 'a comparative dimension to the enlightenment project of a 
science of human variation in time and space. Our object must be to confront 
the models current in the social sciences with the experiences and models of 
our subjects, while insisting that this should be a two-way process' 

In this spirit, one aim of the conference will be to interrogate critically 
a historiography of modern British social anthropology that has challenged - 
as being western and hegemonic - British anthropology's cosmopolitan 
engagement with the 'other', and its discursive articulation by metropolitan 
anthropologists. A further aim might be to question critically the view that 
imputes to British social anthropology a narrow focus on closed cultures and 
restricted locales. One has only to think of the many studies of 
cross-ethnic engagement by the founding generation of British social 
anthropology, from Malinowski's study of kula, to Nadel's study of a 
multi-ethnic state, Fortes's study of Tallensi ritual extensions beyond the 
local, Schapera's study of civic incorporation of strangers among Tswana, 
Evans-Pritchard's Nuer-Dinka encounter or Leach's complex model of Highland 
Burma. Such examples can be multiplied, and include the extensive studies of 
modern colonial towns, urban ethnicity, mines in Central Africa, regional 
cults, trading diasporas, ethnogenesis, Christian churches, anti-witchcraft 
movements, etc., which all point to the gross distortion of the history of 
social anthropology that has been perpetrated on the subject by its critics.

Prof Pnina Werbner, University of Keele
E: P.Werbner at keele.ac.uk
Organiser: Sean McLoughlin, Leeds University
E: conference at theasa.org
Please send all communication regarding the conference to 
conference at theasa.org 

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