Graduate Students: these workshops during the AAAs are for you!

APLA Graduate Student Workshops at AAA 2014
Call for participants…
Each year during the AAA meetings, the Association for Political and Legal Anthropology (APLA) sponsors a series of special workshops in which small groups of graduate students and faculty convene around thematic conceptual, theoretical, and methodological issues. These workshops offer an intimate mentorship context in which students can engage in intensive discussions regarding specific problems in their anthropological research and writing. This year’s workshop topics are the following (descriptions can be found below):

1. Trial and Evidence in Science and Law

2. Representation in Political and Legal Anthropology: Moving Beyond the Textual (early PhD students)

3. Positioning Social Media in Ethnographic Research

4. Law and Politics of Environmental Justice

5. Legal Futures, Technological Futures

Each workshop will be limited to 4-5 students, who will meet with 2 faculty members at a café near the AAA conference hotel. These locations, as well as the exact dates and times of the workshops will be determined in the weeks prior to the AAA meetings.

Doctoral students who wish to participate in these workshops should apply as soon as possible by completing this application form:

Proposals will be accepted on a first-received, first-reviewed basis, and with the requirement that applicants’ projects/questions be closely related to the workshop topics. If an applicant feels that her or his project could be appropriate to more than one workshop, please feel free to list a second choice (in the event that the first-choice workshop has already filled up).

Email Suraiya Anita Jetha at with any questions or concerns.

The final deadline for consideration will be October 22, 2014, but workshops fill up quickly, so apply soon!

Workshop descriptions…

Trial and Evidence in Science and Law

Trials and evidence are central to the ways both scientific and legal practitioners build consensus, draw conclusions, leverage knowledge, and assert authority.  Though they take distinct forms in each field, both draw on notions of credibility, verification, causation, probability, and doubt.  Scholars have scrutinized these and other attributes of trials and evidence in science and law, but rarely do their analyses put the two fields into direct dialogue.  This workshop will convene advanced graduate students conducting research in the anthropology of law and of science to consider how their approaches to analyzing trials and evidence might inform one another. To what extent do concerns encountered in each context overlap with, and diverge from, one another? What analytical tools might researchers productively apply or adapt from one field of inquiry to the other?

Representation in Political and Legal Anthropology: Moving Beyond the Textual (early PhD students)

Just as legal accounts instantiate, substitute, and select from potential interpretations of reality, so too does an ethnographic account represent and “enhance” what are often unrecognized social truths (Yngvesson & Coutin 2008). Designed for students of political and legal anthropology in the early stages of their graduate careers, this workshop explores non-textual modes of ethnographic interpretation and enhancement. Applicants are invited to imagine the role film, performance, photography, experimental art, or sound ethnography might play in their research. Participants may also consider the professional dis/advantages of employing experimental techniques, as well as the ways in which these media forms might uniquely intersect with or illuminate processes of legal representation.

Positioning Social Media in Ethnographic Research

Political and legal anthropologists increasingly find social media playing often unforeseen roles in their research.  This occurs, for example, when they are followed, tweeted at, and “friended” by interlocutors.  These connections seem to bridge previously existing divides between researchers and their interlocutors, and allow alternative insights into the latter’s quotidian behavior and social networks. Should these novel forms of data be integrated into ethnographic accounts in qualitatively different ways than those gathered by more traditional methods?  And beyond methodological and analytical issues, what are the ethical implications of gathering and employing this type of data? For example, what constitutes informed consent in this context? This workshop invites applications from graduate students grappling with questions about social media-generated data from both ethical and methodological standpoints.

Law and Politics of Environmental Justice: Emerging Legal Subjects

Demands for environmental justice have long employed legal language.  But today we are witnessing a proliferation of claims articulating new environmental subjects and objects of law.  These include, for example, proprietary claims on biotechnology, bioprospecting, and biocultural heritage; discrimination claims of environmental racism; rights claims demanding communities’ free, prior, and informed consent concerning natural resource use; and the ceding of rights to Mother Earth in Ecuador and Bolivia and to plants in Switzerland. What conditions the formation of these environmental subjects of law and what are the implications for how we understand the politics of environmental justice? This workshop is for graduate students interested in exploring the dynamic and evolving relationships between law, politics, and the environment, and the role therein of notions of justice, well-being, and liveability.

Legal Futures, Technological Futures

Periods of rapid technological change have always posed challenges to legal and regulatory actors, who must continuously adapt their knowledge and tools to the conditions of emerging worlds.  Recent anthropological scholarship explores how policymakers, lawyers, and other purveyors of expert knowledge today aim not only to react to, but also to anticipate, evolving forms of technology and uses thereof.  This research has been rich and divergent, ranging from issues of intellectual property and free speech on the Internet to reproductive technologies, alternative currencies, and global cyber security.  This workshop invites applicants whose research interfaces with actors who construct legal, policy, and/or regulatory tools to confront anticipated futures.  What compels such predictive approaches to law and policy, and upon what bases do actors build their imaginaries of technological changes yet-to-come?

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