Central Asian Studies Inside Out. Challenging Grand Narratives

In her Keynote “On little and grand narratives in Central Asia” (28 March 2019), Prof. Dr. Judith Beyer investigates the inter-linkages between orality, narratives, textual production and textual artefacts. The lecture happened in the context of a workshop on “Central Asian Studies Inside Out. Challenging Grand Narratives”, organised by the Centre National De La Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS).

The Future of Central Asian Studies

Organised by Judith Beyer and Madeleine Reeves, September 11-13, 2017

The last three years have seen a flourishing of anthropological and historical monographs on Central Asia.

In an innovative workshop format we launched fifteen recent monographs and discussed how material from Central Asia cam inform conceptual debates about order, knowledge, modernity, empire, religion and resources in the widest sense. What can be gained from drawing together anthropological and historical scholarship on law and empire, or dynamics of peace and conflict? How can we better integrate the history and anthropology of Afghanistan to allow comparison with the rest of Central Asia? In this panel, (here discussants names) will discuss books by (here names of authors).

Panel I: Ordering

Discussants: Madeleine Reeves, Tim Epkenhans, Timothy Nunan

Books to be discussed:

Judith Beyer. 2016. The force of custom. Law and the ordering of everyday life in Kyrgyzstan. University of Pittsburgh Press

Botakoz Kassymbekova. 2016. Despite cultures. Early Soviet rule in Tajikistan. University of Pittsburgh Press

Christian Teichmann. 2016. Macht der Unordnung. Stalins Herrschaft in Zentralasien 1920-1950. Hamburger Edition

Panel III: Islam

Discussants: Till Mostowlansky, Eva-Marie Dubuisson, Aksana Ismailbekova

Books to be discussed:

Julie Billaud. 2015. Kabul carnival. Gender and politics in postwar Afghanistan. Pennsylvania University Press

Magnus Marsden. 2016. Trading worlds. Afghan merchants across modern frontiers. Hurst

David Montgomery. 2016. Practicing Islam. Knowledge, experience and social navigation in Kyrgyzstan. University of Pittsburgh Press.

Panel IV: Nation

Discussants: Julie McBrien, Mateusz Laszczkowski, Jeanne Feaux de la Croix

Books to be discussed:

Tim Epkenhans. 2016. The origins of the civil war in Tajikistan. Nationalism, islamism, and violent conflict in post-soviet states. Lexington Books

Adeeb Khalid. 2015. Making Uzbekistan: nation, empire and revolution in the early USSR. Cornell University Press

Timothy Nunan. 2016. Humanitarian invasion: Global development in cold war Afghanistan. Cambridge University Press.

Panel V: Kinship and Belonging

Discussants: David Montgomery, Julie Billaud, Judith Beyer

Books to be discussed:

Eva-Marie Dubuisson. 2017. Living language in Kazakhstan. The dialogic emergence of an ancestral worldview. University of Pittsburgh Press

Aksana Ismailbekova. 2017. Blood ties and the native son. Indiana University Press

Julie McBrien. 2017. From belonging to belief. Modern secularisms and the construction of religion in Kyrgyzstan. University of Pittsburgh Press.

Presence and Social Obligation: An Essay on the Share (Dahrendorf Lecture, July 15, 2017)

„Wie alle sozialen Verteilungskonzepte zuvor basieren auch die heutigen auf Prinzipien der nationalstaatlichen Zugehörigkeit“, stellt James Ferguson fest. „Doch diese Logik der Staatsbürgerschaft stößt an Grenzen. Deshalb schwebt mir ein Prinzip vor, das sich lediglich an ‚Präsenz’ knüpft.“ Was dieses breite Verständnis von sozialer Verpflichtung konkret bedeutet und inwiefern es sich in Strategien für eine inklusivere Politik übersetzen lässt, führte er am 15. Juli 2017 in der Dahrendorf-Lecture an der Universität Konstanz aus.

Presence and Social Obligation: An Essay on the Share

The Force of Custom in Kyrgyzstan (May 31, 2017)

Prof. Dr. Judith Beyer (Konstanz)

Judith Beyer hat mit Sean Guillory ("Sean's Russia Blog, SRB") über ihre neue Buchpublikation "The force of custom. Law and the ordering of everyday life in Kyrgyzstan" (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016) gesprochen. Im Podcast diskutieren sie über Feldforschung im ländlichen Kirgistan, Rechtsethnologie, Ethnomethodologie, das Konzept des Postsozialismus sowie über den Einfluss Russlands in Zentralasien.

Sean's Russia Blog Podcast

When is a Thing? Transduction and Immediacy in Afro-Cuban Ritual. Or, ANT in Matanzas, Cuba, Summer of 1948 (May 17, 2017)

Prof. Dr. Stephan Palmié (Chicago)

Prof. Palmié was invited as part of colloquium of the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Konstanz.

Revisiting William R. Bascom’s 1948 ethnography of Afro-Cuban religious practices in Jovellanos (a semi-urban site in Cuba’s Province of Matanzas) in light of current theoretical concerns in our discipline, this essay constitutes a thought experiment. As such it seeks to re-describe some of Bascoms data in light of Actor-Network Theory, to see if his patent puzzlement over his interlocutors’ statements concerning the liveliness and even personhood of mineral objects – stones that embody, rather than represent deities – can be resolved that way.

At the same time, I aim to offer a critique of current attempts to redefine our discipline’s mission under the sign of an “ontological turn” that recurs to notions of “radical alterity” that strike me as both essentialist, and certainly profoundly ahistorical. Recurring to Karen Barad’s theories of “agential realism,” I suggest that contemporary concerns with “posthumanist” “anti-representationalism” better be tempered by a view of our epistemic pursuits, including those of anthropology, as embedded in thoroughly historical – and so changing – ontologies.

In light of such considerations, the lecture concludes on a vision of anthropology as a form of knowledge that cannot afford to evade neither the historical transformations of the social worlds it aims to illuminate, nor that of the concurrent transformations in its own epistemic orientations, but has to reframe its goals in terms of conjunctures of ontologies and epistemologies of mutually relational and, most importantly, historical scope.

When is a thing?

Kinder statt Inder – The Politics of Demographic Panics in the Global North and South (May 4, 2017)

Prof. Dr. Shalini Randeria gave the “Zukunftskolleg Lecture” at the University of Konstanz in  Germany on May 4, 2017. Prof. Randeria is Rector of the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna and Research Director and Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Geneva.

In her talk “Kinder statt Inder. The politics of demographic fears in the global north and south”, Prof. Randeria discussed the manifold entanglements of demographic politics with nationalist agendas with a particular focus on the role of women and their bodies in pro- and anti-natalist campaigns we are currently witnessing worldwide.

Please also have a look here.

Kinder statt Inder

Visions of Modernity: How Activists Restructured Nepali Society (February 16, 2017).

Prof. Dr. David Gellner (Oxford).
Conference Keynote “Activism, Anthropologically Speaking”

The correspondence of lives (June 17, 2015)

Prof. Dr. Tim Ingold (University of Aberdeen, Scotland)

Ingold was invited to give a talk within the frame of a lecture series entitled “Nature and Culture as False Dichotomy” convened by anthropologist Dr. Raúl Acosta-Garcia and biologist Dr. Wolf Hütteroth. The series brought together experts from both natural and social sciences and explored approaches to an integrated view of human life from biological and anthropological perspectives.

Human lives are carried on alongside the lives of beings of manifold other kinds: we respond to them as they respond to us. Lives, in short, are bound in correspondence, and this is what makes them social. How come, then, that in the thinking of so many biologists, social life is understood to be confined to relations among conspecifics? And how come, conversely, that in the thinking of many social theorists, the non-human companions with which humans so often surround themselves are reduced to inanimate objects? I show that the answers to both questions lie in a lingering commitment to human exceptionalism that, despite strenuous denials, remains buried deep down in the arguments of both bioscience and social theory. To eradicate this exceptionalism does not mean confining all the world to objects, as the advocates of object-oriented ontology suggest. Instead, I propose an overarching theory of biosocial correspondence.