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Water is Life. The refrain of water rights activists globally is an invitation to consider the many ways in which water is essential to human economy, environments, and health. The theme of this SEA conference is the role of water in human economic life – from studies of water management in ancient societies, to irrigation in agrarian settings, to informal economies of water in squatter settlements, to social movements to secure a human right to water.
The Society for Linguistic Anthropology invites submissions for its inaugural annual spring meeting March 8-10, 2018 at the University of Pennsylvania. We welcome panels and presentations, posters, and multi-modal installations from a wide variety of scholarly directions dedicated to the study of language and semiosis in their social and cultural contexts. Scholars of Anthropology, Linguistics, Applied Linguistics, Sociolinguistics, and adjacent disciplines are all invited to participate.
The theme “New: Media, Messages, Meanings, E-motions” invites thinking through how language and semiosis more broadly are involved in producing new and contingent forms and functions. From thinking about mass media to affective states, from new forms of message to the shifting indexicalities of their meaning, the meetings provide an opportunity to think through how new forms and functions emerge, how participants perceive and describe them, and what kinds of anxieties and possibilities are produced. The terms “media, message, meaning, and e-motion” are meant to suggest possible clusters of analysis to think through how new forms of semiosis emerge, challenge older forms, and show the effects of contingency in social life.
To think through these points, we invite presentations connected to, but not limited to,the following clusters of topics:
A great deal of scholarship is currently directed to understanding the anxieties resulting from mass media as well as new social media platforms, and how reality or fakeness is produced. How is mass communication changing with new developments in technology? How are notions of authentic selves and face-to-face communication being disturbed, and what reactions are being provoked in response? Further, linguistic anthropology has always emphasized that all interaction is mediated in some way. When does the materiality of language, the increasingly varied forms through which linguistic signs are communicated, matter? How are particular affordances enabling and constraining how new forms and function emerge?
One long-term contribution of linguistic anthropology has been to show that messages cannot be reduced to denotationally explicit content, and that messages aren’t simply transmitted from sender or speaker to receiver or addressee. Messages today seem to come in any number of new or changed forms, which can reach participants at limited or larger scale–from gossip to the political candidate’s extended campaign, from text messages to viral memes. Other new message forms can emerge as part of new registers, styles, and genres. How are messages signaled, transmitted, and co-constituted? And how do new types of contexts and forms of participation change what counts as a message?
More historical work has sought to consider how change is shaped by the very structural relations found in language and semiosis. Under what conditions do new meanings become apparent to communities of speakers, and how are old meanings still playing a role?
Attention to affective stances and states is now a core area of research in studies of language and semiosis. How are such stances and states brought into being, and how are they connected to the multiple scales of communication and forms of mediation?
In an era of “fake news” and “alt” political movements, what counts as meaning making? How can we understand epistemology in an era of madness? The issue of resemblance is as much a pressing social question as it is an academic preoccupation. The American Ethnological Society and the Society for Visual Anthropology explore the theme of resemblance at their 2018 joint spring conference. Welcoming anthropologists, artists, media makers, and community members to Philadelphia during March 22-24, the meeting will provide an opportunity to revisit and explore anew what we believe is knowable as anthropologists and the ways we may wish to rethink our priorities and approaches in our era of heightened violence, strife, surveillance, and policing.
Resemblance is at the very heart of anthropology, as its practitioners have sought to demonstrate the commonalities of all people. While resemblance relies upon recognition and likening, it is also a means of comparison to what one perceives and believes they already know. The conference organizers invite proposals for panels consisting of papers or multimodal presentations, as well as individual submissions that theoretically, methodologically, visually, or otherwise examine the conference theme. We welcome graduate students to present their work in its early stages and to network with more establish practitioners. The conference will feature exhibitions, speakers, films, performances, as well as a town hall discussion about how our field can wield greater influence in public struggles of resemblance.
Healing is one function attributed to shamanic practice and is fundamental to many of the esoteric principals of ritual and spiritual healing beliefs that have been part of our world’s cultures. Sound weather chanting, sacred sounds, and instruments of varying types are also used to form the vessel of healing. Exploring the various uses and meaning of ritual, sound, and altered states invites a deeper understanding of why these elements are conflated into the healing arts of many cultures ancient and newly forming sub-
The 97th annual CSAS conference is student-friendly and features a paper competition for both undergraduate and graduate students. It also offers an opportunity for anthropologists from throughout the Midwest, from institutions large and small, to meet, talk, and network in a welcoming and professional environment.
Displacements are in the air: episodes of profound political upheaval, intensified crises of migration and expulsion, the disturbing specter of climatic and environmental instability, countless virtual shadows cast over the here and now by ubiquitous media technologies. What does it mean to live and strive in the face of such movements? What social and historical coordinates are at stake with these challenges? And what kind of understanding can anthropology contribute to the displacements of this time—given, especially, that our most essential techniques like ethnography are themselves predicated on the heuristic value of displacement, on what can be gleaned from the experience of unfamiliar circumstances?
Exclusionary politics of spatial displacement always depend on rhetorical and imaginative displacements of various kinds: a person for a category, or a population for a problem. In the face of such moves, the critical task of ethnography is often to muster contrary displacements of thought, attention, imagination, and sensation. What forms of social and political possibility might be kindled by anthropological efforts to broach unexpected places, situations, and stories? The 2018 SCA Biennial Meeting, cosponsored by the Society for Visual Anthropology, will invite such prospects in tangible form, as experiences of what is elsewhere and otherwise. This is a conference that will itself displace the conventional modes of gathering, taking place wherever its participants individually and collectively tune in.
For the first time, in 2018, the SCA Biennial Meeting will take place as a virtual conference. We invite you to contribute an individual audio/video presentation up to 10 minutes in length, a proposal for a panel of related presentations, or an idea for some localized form of in-person collaboration to which conference participants could have access. You may simply choose to record yourself giving a talk or reading a paper. But we especially encourage efforts to take us elsewhere along with you in a more sensory and immersive register: multimedia presentations, voiceover essays spliced with fieldwork fragments, sound works, short films, photo sequences, and so on. In this spirit, here is another call for submissions to the Biennial Meeting, one expressed in a different manner.
Air travel is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, and one of the chief ways that an academic livelihood contributes to carbon pollution. We are exploring the virtual conference format with the ideal of carbon-neutral activity in mind. This format will also enable broader geographical participation, most especially against the backdrop of a political climate of unequal restrictions on international travel. We hope, too, that the web-based media platform we are developing for the conference will allow for novel explorations of expressive form in anthropology.
One of the chief values of the academic conference no doubt lies in face-to-face meetings and interactions. We hope, however, that this effort may provoke decentralized, affinity-based forms of collaboration, interaction, and uptake, in the spirit of experimentation that the SCA and SVA have long encouraged. We therefore invite participants to consider gathering together into local nodes of collective participation in the conference: viewing parties, classroom activities, departmental engagements with the conference, hackathon-style events that culminate in outputs that can be shared with other conference attendees, or anything else you can imagine.
All presentations must be prerecorded and shared in advance with the organizers. The presentations will be posted sequentially, in real time, during the conference and will be available to registered conference attendees for viewing, commentary, and discussion over those three days. We are exploring the possibility of a digital archive of presentations for those who want to participate, although more ephemeral contributions are also welcome.
Technical guidance on presentations will be forthcoming soon, but we want to assure you that nothing more complicated is required than what can be done on a typical smartphone. In the meantime, if you are conducting fieldwork, feel free to start gathering audiovisual materials that you may wish to incorporate in your presentation (in keeping with the research ethics of your particular field site). Also, keep in mind that if you would like to organize a local node of collective participation, we will work with you to provide some form of support for your event.