[URBANTH-L]CFP: AAA 2009 - Ethnographies of Consciousness

Josh Fisher jfisher at uoregon.edu
Fri Mar 20 02:43:28 EDT 2009

Hi all,

Apologies for cross-posting, but this panel may be of special interest  
to those interested in social movements and activism.  Abstracts are  
due by Monday, March 23 (flexible) but please indicate interest as  
soon as possible (email jfisher at uoregon.edu)

Josh Fisher

Call for Papers—Ethnographies of Consciousness
American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting (December 2-6, 2009)
2009 Annual Meeting

Organizer: Josh Fisher (University of Oregon)

	Discourses of “consciousness” have functioned as an important part of  
many scholarly accounts of social movements and other collective  
mobilizations, oftentimes finding expression in the claims of the  
activists as well.  This consciousness is not the individualistic,  
psychologically minded one, separated irrevocably from the material or  
social world, but rather, following Marx and Hegel, an objective  
social phenomenon involving the recognition of the interrelationship  
between one’s political, social, ethnic, gendered, historical, sexual  
or environmental self and broader landscapes.  Yet, all too  
frequently, these claims about consciousness are based less in the  
experiences, knowledge, and subjective transformations involved in  
social mobilizations than the scholarly models called upon to explain  
them.  Momentarily setting aside those theoretical presumptions—that  
consciousness is something to “attain” or “awaken” to, that it is  
built upon “critical analysis,” or even that it can be ratcheted up by  
consciousness-raising techniques—the goal of this panel is to bring  
into the discussion an ethnographic perspective on consciousness.  How  
do different people develop and come to see themselves as part of  
(sometimes alternative) perspectives on the world based around  
particular conceptions of historical, economic, gendered, ethnic, or  
environmental struggle?  How do people narrate these transformations  
and even construct meaningful identities around them?  How may these  
claims to consciousness also contain the power to galvanize political  
struggle?  And how do people people appropriate the language of  
consciousness for the purposes of mobilizations, even in the absence  
of sentiments of community?  While some presenters will give fresh,  
ethnographic texture to political and economic forms of  
consciousnesses that have traditionally been treated in very limited  
and overtly economistic ways—drawing, as they historically have, on  
Marxist theories of class consciousness—others will push the  
boundaries of the idea into underreported, even new emergences in the  
discussion of consciousness.  By ethnographically engaging a concept  
that has simultaneously had so much circulation and so little critical  
definition within the fields of political science, economics,  
anthropology, sociology and elsewhere, this panel is positioned to  
contribute importantly to a broader, interdisciplinary conversation  
about social mobilization, struggle, and the formation of political  

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