WORLD ANTHROPOLOGICAL UNION

CONGRESS 2024​

SELECTED PANEL

( pn15 )

Anthropology and Universities as Sites of Transformation

Organizers

    Antonádia Borges

    Brazil

    Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro

    Face to Face/ On Site - Presence

    Divine Fuh

    Cameroon

    University of Cape Town

    Face to Face/ On Site - Presence

IUAES Affiliation: Anthropology and Education

Keywords:

anthropology, higher education, transformation, academic freedom, academic conservatism

Abstract:

Worldwide, the ideas of the university, disciplines and science, however we conceive of these, are currently under threat. In anthropology, this threat, the response to it and the innovative approaches that emerge from debates about its essence are at the heart of the charm and growth of the discipline. In the last six decades, anthropology has expanded in some aspects because institutions dedicated to humanities and social sciences have also mushroomed worldwide. More recent emancipatory critiques about decolonisation, feminism, disability, queer studies and indigenous approaches require us to rethink some of the critical pillars of the discipline, such as history, principles, theory, concepts, and methodological traditions that define praxis, training and even application in everyday life. We have been experiencing crucial shifts in the possibilities of pursuing the ethnographic enterprise depending on our institutional location. The most blatant difference is economic. Defunding, the push for impact and policy-driven research, and a similar increase in financial budgets have yet to accompany higher education expansion in many countries. However, another non-negligible aspect is how a once-thought-common canon has been challenged and transformed in our countries. In this panel, we want to debate the idea of threat and risk concerning the existence and survival of anthropology as a discipline, method and approach and how anthropology is at risk or threatened both locally and globally. In the context of debates on academic freedom, decolonisation and communal projects of giving back to society and local communities, we want to critically discuss ethnographic accounts of progressive, vicious and conservative attacks on anthropology in the academy and welcome critiques of elitism. Papers focusing on and that engage critically on what we loosely call experiences of transformation are welcome. We aim to tackle transformation as a concept that encompasses locally rooted experiences of navigation in the academic world that raise essential questions about contemporary anthropology, like epistemic violence, epistemological racism, white supremacy, theoretical misogyny and other hindrances related to how power speaks to the discipline.