The Futures of Culture, Anthropology Southern Africa Association 2011 Conference

3- 6 September 2011, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
During apartheid, anthropology taught at Afrikaans universities,volkekunde, supported a racist polity through teaching essentialist, biological and evolutionist notions of culture. Such social evolutionist
notions of human difference were what anthropologist Franz Boas wrote against when he referred to habituated knowledge and tradition in his notion of the culture concept. In South African liberation struggle discourse, racial and cultural classifications were also understood to be socially and politically constituted, rather than essential. Now, here in southern Africa as well as elsewhere in the world, ‘culture’ is often again used to mean innate, unconscious drives - so it is sometimes used as
an alibi for misogyny, sometimes as an alibi for race-hatred. Contributing to a popular tendency to redefine both race and culture as biological, genetic scientists tell us that culture can be found in human DNA. Where do we, who study humans past and present, stand in relation to the tradition of a culture concept? Do we write against a notion of culture, presenting our work in terms of ‘community’, income-group, language-group, race, class, citizenship? What are the futures of ‘culture’ as a category to think with? Does the privileging of the ‘culture’ concept end up eliding questions of class, materialities and political economy? And we wonder what the future of anthropology, and other disciplines in which sociality is considered (such as the social sciences more generally, English Literature, Film and Media studies, Race, Gender and Queer Studies, Disability Studies, African Studies, Cultural Studies, Heritage Studies, Archaeology and History) would look like without a notion of culture.
We encourage submissions that concern conceptual frameworks as well as those that present fieldwork analysis.
Keynote speaker: Prof. Achille Mbembe, Prof. Charles Piot
Send proposals for panels to until 15 April 2011.  The proposed panels and the contact details of the panel coordinators will be circulated once they are available. Abstracts for papers can be submitted to from 15 April 2011. Early registration is encouraged.
Organisers: Thomas Blaser, Kathleen McDougall, Steven Robins, Eleanor Swartz, Kees Van der Waal, Handri Walters, Tazneem Wentzel

10.03.2011 | by franciscabagulho | african studies, cultural studies, South Africa