[URBANTH-L]AAA 2008 CFP: External Forms Internal Norms

Zeynep Gursel zgursel at berkeley.edu
Mon Feb 25 15:24:25 EST 2008

Call for Papers
Proposed Session
American Anthropological Association (AAA), Nov. 19-Nov. 23, 2008
Hilton Park and Towers, San Francisco

critical terms of inclusion, engagement and 

Elif Müyesser Babül, Stanford University & Zeynep 
Devrim Gürsel, University of Michigan

Anthropologists have long investigated processes 
of inclusion and exclusion, whether based on 
race, class, gender, ethnicity or nationality. In 
relation to key issues of our times (social 
identity, economic growth, cultural preservation, 
peace-making, social justice) a widespread 
assumption is that collaboration and engagement 
should be promoted with an ideal situation being 
expressed in terms of maximum inclusion.  Yet, 
what are the specific processes enabling maximum 
inclusion?  What kinds of mechanisms come into 
play in an idealized inclusion?  In realms as 
diverse as politics, humanitiarianism, art, 
journalism and energy distribution, collaboration 
begins with an assumption that a certain 
commensurability is feasible and desirable. 
Inclusions are often determined in terms of 
compliance to certain terms and conditions 
defining the criteria for admission. Forms are 
developed as supposed precursors or prerequisites 
to collaboration and inclusion, imagined as means 
of establishing commensurate (thus legitimate) 
grounds of engagement. Hence despite the ideal of 
maximum inclusion, everyday practices often 
emphasize compliance rather than inclusion or 

What if we turn our attention to forms 
themselves?  What are the kinds of inclusion that 
are precluded in the imposition of 
outside/external/foreign/international forms in 
an attempt to shape the 
inside/internal/domestic/national norms? How do 
established forms/formats/formalities determine 
and/or negate developing 

This panel attends to how forms presented as 
prerequisites for admission, collaboration or 
engagement themselves function as processes of 
inclusion or exclusion. This panel broadly 
examines the mutually constitutive relationship 
between forms/formations/formalities and 
norms/normalities, and how an approach focusing 
on this relationship might enable us to rethink 
processes of inclusion, collaboration and 
engagement. Paying specific attention to the 
institutional practices (of the state, civil 
society, inter/supranational formations, capital, 
markets, communities, subjectivities, etc.) of 
determining the conditions of possibility for 
inclusion/integration, the panel will address the 
widespread consequences, intended or otherwise, 
of certain forms determining the grounds on which 
inclusion and exclusion can be negotiated.

Tweaking classic dichotomies between form and 
content, and arguing that the criteria of 
inclusion are equally defined in formal terms 
along with normative ones, the panel will attend 
to the specific practices of inclusion/exclusion 
employed by both the selectors and the selected 
in various processes of admission/integration in 
diverse ethnographic settings.  The importance of 
such forms has led to a development of formal 
expertise and individuals who are considered 
formal experts who can inform others.  Focusing 
on the power relations that emerge when forms 
themselves are made into a topic of expertise by 
casting the knowledge of form/formal knowledge as 
essential for inclusion, the panel will also 
explore the types of access that are implied in 
those inclusions, often imagined in the form of 
access to resources (linguistic, intellectual, 
financial etc.) and opportunities (for dialogue, 
understanding, wealth etc.).

We invite paper submissions to address these 
issues through any of the following sets of 

What are the kinds of norms/normalities that are 
produced/incited via compliance to certain 

How does a perspective focusing on the 
constitutive aspect of the form enable us to 
rethink processes of 

What kinds of subjects/objects are called forth 
through the casting of multi/uni-formalities?

What are the kinds of power relations that are 
inherent in different practices of 

What are the kinds of institutional practices 
that define the forms that need to be complied 
with in order to achieve or demonstrate certain 

What kinds of negotiations happen during processes of selection?

Are there any possible sites of resistance to 
those selective processes of inclusion/exclusion, 

Parallel to the way in which formalities are 
constitutive of normalities, can we think of any 
informalities constitutive of abnormalities?

How can we think of forms and norms as mutually constitutive of each other?

What would the possible promises/shortcomings of 
an anthropology of the form be?

Please send abstracts (250 words) for 15-minute 
papers and a brief bio or cv to Elif Müyesser 
Babül, embabul at stanford.edu, or Zeynep Devrim 
Gürsel, zgursel at berkeley.edu by by Friday, March 
14, 2008.

Zeynep Devrim Gürsel, PhD.
Department of Anthropology
University of California, Berkeley

More information about the URBANTH-L mailing list