Society for Cultural Anthropology Biennial Meeting

Detroit, Michigan May 9-10, 2014

The SCA 2014 meeting invites a wide-ranging engagement with the startling transformations of work today. The contours and critiques of work demand our attention in ways both familiar and new. From the “reinvention” of manufacturing and making to reconceptualizations of immaterial and affective labor, the means of assembling livelihoods — and of living variously under the sign, the imperative, and the lack of work — require our attention, and perhaps a slowing down.

We thus invite contributors to think with and about work in ways that range from labor in feminist and Marxian senses to broader understandings of human and non-human activity, as in performance, creativity, effort, or force in the world. Ends, in turn, need not signal termination, the end,but also the goals and temporalities, desires and extremes, the minimal thresholds and maximizing aspirations that contemporary activities and imaginations of work may entail, elicit, or foreclose.

The ends of work are legible in, for example, contemporary transnational politics of (im)migration, the configuration of race, and the conduct of war. Work’s reimagination is indexed in persistent warnings of a “jobless future” in Europe and the US, as well as in the rise of New Economy movements, the demands of indebtedness (sovereign and otherwise), the rise of narco-economies, and new/old constellations of intimacy, violence, and love. Anthropology’s central concerns with diverse conditions of economic life, with subjectivity and collective imagination, and with the constitution of spaces of the political, are keenly relevant and even necessary to understanding the contours and content of work today.

The SCA 2014 meetings will be held in Detroit, Michigan. The city has attracted far too much attention as a kind of post-industrial ground zero, and its historic declaration of bankruptcy, in which pensions (alongside art work) are being positioned as auctionable municipal assets, has only heightened that sense. But Detroit is also on the forefront of US-based re-imaginings of the futures of labor and work, within a history that exceeds the breathlessness of today’s crises. We seek to make those projects and those sensibilities an integral part of the meetings. The city is thus more than a backdrop for these discussions. The SCA is working closely with Detroit-based colleagues, activists, and artists to create multiple opportunities for engagement and dialogue, on- and off-site.

Keynote events include The Detroit Roundtable, and plenary conversations with Sylvia Yanagisako, Kathi Weeks, Dimitris Papadopolous, and Gilberto Rosas.

The deadline for individual paper and panel submissions (4-6 presenters including discussant) is *January 31, 2014.*

We encourage fully-formed panel submissions, but will consider individually-submitted paper proposals as space allows. We are also open to alternative formats, including roundtables, performances, and film/video screenings.

Contacts: Cori Hayden and John Hartigan at

Deborah Thomas is the contributing editor for SCA’s column in Anthropology News.

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