24 May: Anthropological Approaches to Governmentality

On Friday May 24 the Dutch Anthropological Association (ABv) organizes the conference: ‘Anthropological Approaches to Governmentality: the State and its Shadows’ for ABv members. Researchers from different anthropological institutes in the Netherlands will share recent insight in their research. From CA-OS Leiden Dr. Sabine Luning, Dr. Erik Bähre, Annieke Zeumeren and Florence Scialom present papers.

Time and Location

Friday May 24 – Allard Pierson Museum, Oude Turfmarkt 127, Amsterdam (route)

Registration: via abvcongres@gmail.com

Costs: free for ABv members, €5 for students, €10 for others.


9.00 – 9.15 Welcome and Introduction to the ABv Day by Thijl Sunier, chair of the ABv (VU University)

9.15 – 10.30. Panel 1: Out of Control. The Anthropology of Popular Discourses on the State and its Opponents

Panel description:
State attempts to control specific sectors in civil society are always accompanied by moral discourses. Particular groups or economic actors need to be brought under proper state regulation to counter illegal, immoral and violent practices. The state pretends to intervene in situations that are out of control. Similarly, the state and its representatives are also frequently accused of immoral behavior beyond belief. Both of these allegations tap into popular stereotypes and are often based on rumors. This panel is interested to analyze similarities in these discourses, both on the level of content (assumptions) and of form (rumors and stereotyping). The panel seeks to understand how this common ground affects the articulation of state and its others. We are particularly interested to see how popular moralities may work to weaken both the state and its opponents. Moreover, the panel addresses the problem of how anthropologists should approach this elusive field of morals and accusations.

  • Paper 1: Sabine Luning, Leiden University
    Narrating Corruption: The state and the predicaments of opposition in Burkina Faso.
  • Paper 2: Elisabet Rasch, Wageningen University
    Terrorists or Citizens? Speculations on state engagement in illegal networks and the “illegalization” of anti-mining activism in Guatemala
  • Paper 3: Erik Bähre, Leiden University
    Out of Control: Taxi wars and the state in Cape Town, South Africa

10.45 – 11.15 coffee

11.15 – 12.30 Panel 2: Masterpiece: Een blik in de onderzoeken van hedendaagse masterstudenten/Presenting current research of master students

LaSSA (Landelijke Samenwerking Studenten Antropologie)

Panel description:
In the past, anthropology students mostly carried out research in small communities, writing up their traditions, cultural ideas and daily practices. What subjects do anthropology students work on nowadays? Do they still look at small, demarcated, rural communities? Or do the subjects of research also highlight how global trends affect the lives of people at particular places? In this panel master students present their research to show the broad range of subjects covered by anthropology students these days. Three students enrolled in different Master Programmes in The Netherlands, present their topics, which vary from social movements, environmental issues to ritual practices. All papers are based on fieldwork, and analyze how global trends – be it the shift from socialism to capitalism, or various alternatives to capitalism – produce new understandings of how politics, economies and social identities are or should be localized. The panel presents contemporary anthropological research methods and lines of questioning that preoccupy Master students nowadays.

  • Paper 1: Annieke Zeumeren, MA student, Leiden University
    Shifting values of rituals in globalizing Mongolia
  • Paper 2: Ying Que, Msc, Utrecht University
    Stories to imagine an alternative: the movement of Occupy Wall Street
  • Paper 3: Florence Scialom, MA student, Leiden University
    Debating ‘de-growth’ How can more localised economies challenge the dominant economic growth model?

12.30 – 13.30 Lunch

13.30 – 15.00. Panel 3: The Popular Culture of Illegality: Informal Sovereignty and the Politics of Aesthetics

Panel description:
In contexts of urban marginality in both the Global South and North, criminal organizations have become increasingly powerful and institutionalized. As criminal leaders and gangs take on the functions and symbols of the state, such mafia-like organizations may evolve into extra-legal structures of rule and belonging. This workshop seeks to explore the aesthetics that legitimate and mediate these forms of informal sovereignty. To understand the reproduction of criminal authority, we should not only study informal sovereigns’ use of violence and their provision of material services in socially excluded communities. We must also examine how imaginative, aesthetic practices are critical in normalizing and naturalizing their rule. This workshop will study the ‘popular culture of illegality’: the music, visual culture and material culture that reflect and reinforce the socio-political authority of criminal organizations. Drawing on work linking aesthetics, politics and the body, we seek to examine the emotional and ethical work that texts, sounds, performative practices and visual images do. Examples of the entanglement of criminal authority and popular culture include the relations between Naples’ camorra and neomelodica music, between Mexican drugs cartels and narcocorridos, and between Brazilian gang leaders and baile funk. Through which aesthetic practices are people mobilized to accept and support criminal authority? How does the popular culture of illegality facilitate a form of governmentality performed both on and through the bodies of the urban poor? Given the territoriality of informal sovereignty, how are the spatial parameters of criminal authority mediated through popular culture representations?

  • Paper 1: Rivke Jaffe, University of Amsterdam
    Introduction of the Research Proposal and Theoretical Outline
  • Paper 2: Martijn Oosterbaan, Utrecht University
    Funk da Milícia: Politics of aestethics in Rio de Janeiro
  • Paper 3: Scott Dalby, VU University of Amsterdam
    The Aesthetics of Surrender and Conviction: Incorporating overseas Chinese and non-Chinese in-and-from Falun Gong’s informal Middle Kingdom
  • Paper 4: José Carlos G. Aguiar, Leiden University
    An Obscure Uncertainty. Criminality, illegality and the Culto Santa Muerte in Mexico

 15.00 – 15.30. Tea

15.30 – 17.00. Keynote Lecture

Nils Bubandt, Aarhus University – Corruption, Spirits, and the Democracy-to-Come in Indonesia

17.00 – 18.00. Drinks

More information>>




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