Anthropological Association of Ireland Conference 2020, Call for Papers – ENDING

Thursday 26th & Friday 27th of November 2020

Hosted by Dublin City University, via Zoom

In November 2020, the Anthropological Association of Ireland invites anthropological reflections on ‘ending’ as the theme for its annual conference.

‘Ending’ embraces both the epochal and the epic, the intimate and the ephemeral, the temporal and the spatial, the corporeal and the chronological. It may do so through forensic diagnosis of the status quo in careful empirical analysis and reporting — that is, through rich ethnography, as when the devastating effects of hegemonic neoliberal policy are documented: bad schools, decaying public infrastructure, increasing inequality, decreasing life expectancy, narrowing imagination and creativity, more boring sex. Or it may do so with rigorous or fanciful theoretical speculation, as it has done at least since the ‘postmodern’ went in and out of vogue.

Here we may say that ‘ending’ evokes temporality and narrative, and the conventional and authoritative ways in which they are joined — in the denouement of the novel, for example, or in the rhetoric of finality that accompanies government commissions of inquiry into political scandals or historic wrongs, or in national-cultural histories meant to seal within narrative (and thereby to end interpretive openness) certain visions of the past and its victims (Kohli 2021).

But ‘ending’ also suggests a process endured, an on-goingness; not only finality, but also duration. What is it like to live at ‘the ending’ of something? What is it like to end something? Are we at the beginning of the end? Or the mid-term? Answers will vary depending on the proclivities of one’s circumstances, otherwise known as ‘culture.’

Contingencies such as those characteristic of religious orders founded in the expectation of an end they have now been waiting over 2,000 years for (Brown 2015). Those sirens you thought you heard are their heralds. Contingencies such as those that greet the end of liberal democracy as the opportunity to complete some unfinished business, viz. the material actualisation of the nation as one, a dream to be executed through the violence that divides citizen from Other (Appadurai 2019).

There are other contingencies, nothing is inevitable; in the immortal words of Leo Varadkar on the eve of lockdown, ‘No fate but what we make.’ The anthropologist’s job is to show how this line from Terminator 2 symbolises ‘neoliberal responsibilisation,’ and that it is a social construction.

Please send proposed paper abstracts of 500 words to AnthropologicalAssocIreland@gmail.com by 15th October 2020.

Panels may be proposed. Such proposals should include a 500-word abstract for the panel, as well for each paper

Conference participants are invited to submit paper proposals on the general theme as described above {“Ending”) or on one of the following two sub-themes that the AAI views as having special anthropological interest and for which the AAI will organise plenary sessions.