[URBANTH-L]CFP: AAA '08: "Ethnographies of the Record"

Rocio Magaña maganarocio at gmail.com
Tue Feb 19 22:38:29 EST 2008

Please distribute.


"Ethnographies of the Record: The Codes of Collaboration and Inclusion"

2008 American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting
November 19-23, 2008
San Francisco, California

Paper abstracts are invited for this panel to be submitted to the Society
for Urban, National, and Transnational Anthropology (SUNTA) and the Society
for the Anthropology of North America (SANA) for invited status
consideration for the 2008 AAA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California.
Papers addressing issues of social and political counting, categorization,
and standardization practices, regardless of regional emphasis, will be

DUE DATE: Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Panel Description:

"Ethnographies of the record: The codes of collaboration and inclusion"

As scholars, activists, governmental agencies, and subjects work together to
identify, understand and solve social imperatives and everyday problems,
forms of coding, standardization, and quantitative subjection emerge as part
of a lingua franca of intervention.  In an effort to triage needs and
problems, social phenomena are measured, codified and recorded in ways that
make them manageable and intelligible to all intervening actors.  Thus,
people are counted and categorized; situations, assessed and codified; and
the social is construed into data. Yet processes of accounting are far from
being straightforward technologies of management or governance. Nor are they
one-way vectors of subjectification. Rather, they also produce their own
logics, alliances, artifacts, conceptual categories, sensations, emotional
commitments and forms of sociability that effectively establish the
conditions of social inclusion. This panel  examines the sociopolitical
implications of the quantification and categorization of social phenomena
through ethnographically diverse cases that consider sites and registers
that have emerged through accounting procedures.  We chart how records are
made and circulated within life worlds, and in turn, shape and constrain
those life worlds themselves.

In a world ever more mediated by the production and circulation of reports
and snappy soundbites, the quantification, classification, and codification
practices give rise to "social facts" which, as highly synthesized and
mobile forms of knowledge provide the bases to discriminate and generate
concern, solicit collaboration, and design interventions.  As we consider
discipline's potential to generate inclusion, collaboration, and engagement,
first it is critical to examine the regimentation of knowledge at the core
of ethnographic practice and anthropological analysis. Concerns about how
people classify and categorize their world as a way to make sense of it, to
shape it, and control it have long preoccupied anthropologists, standing at
the center of seminal anthropological studies from Durkheim and Mauss to
Douglas. By no means a dated topic of inquiry, scholars have tracked the
manifestations and effects of classificatory practices in the context of
colonialism (e.g. Bernard S Cohn), development (e.g., James Scott), and
modernity (e.g., Bruno Latour). Anthropologists continue not only to
encounter, but also to appropriate and produce categories and codified forms
of knowledge to order the social and cultural context we study.

This panel brings together a variety of recent approaches and ethnographic
examples from the contemporary world, emerging in both highly localized and
translocal contexts. It tackles, for example, cases that range from the
production and circulation of birth and fecundity statistics and migrant
death tolls on the U.S.-Mexico border, to the calibration of progress away
from "welfare need" in post-Projects Chicago.  In doing so, we aim for a
renewed discussion of contemporary political legitimization through
enumeration processes, the unexpected forms that accounting practices take,
the ongoing life and circulation of such forms, and the exigencies or
ambivalences surrounding demands for accountability.


Please submit the following information to Rocío Magaña (magana at uchicago.edu)
by Tuesday, February 26, 2008 for consideration:

* Name
* Institutional affiliation
* Paper title
* 250-word abstract
* Contact information

Panel Organizers:
Cassie Fennell, PhD Candidate, University of Chicago (ckf at uchicago.edu)
Rocío Magañana, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Chicago/Dissertation Fellow,
Dartmouth College (magana at uchicago.edu)

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