APLA at AAA 2016: Life Matters

Life Matters: Accountability, Complicity, Politics

Sponsored by APLA and the Society for Cultural Anthropology

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Thursday, November 17, 4:00 PM – 5:45 PM
Minneapolis Convention Center, Room: 101B

Anthropology’s knowledge project has long been entangled with its political project. The questions we have asked have emerged from specific real world issues and problems, even as they have been also geared toward elaborating the broadest possible theoretical issues: What does it mean to be human? How do humans create meaning? In what ways do humans differentiate themselves, and what conditions of power do these differentiations express? What are the effects of these conditions, historically and in the present? For some time now, we have – as a guild – been interested in the forms of violence that have shaped our knowledge projects, and the ways in which these have also been related to the real world violences of war, genocide, racism, and political exclusion. Yet the relationships among anthropology, politics, and critical advocacy have not typically been transparent. This panel will explore anthropologists’ entanglements with the various forms of violence that condition the drive to “know,” our complicities with the inertia of standing by, and the difficulties of enacting true repair.  From a variety of vantage points, panelists will address the following questions: How do we recognize life that matters?  How do we bring it into mattering?  What forms of evidence are mobilized? What kinds of archives are built? What’s at stake in the production of presences where there have been absences? What are the relationships between invisibility and hypervisibility? What are the broader geopolitical and epistemological contexts for these processes? And how might we cultivate a sense of mutual recognition that demands collective accountability?

Organizer, Chair: Deborah Thomas University of Pennsylvania

Discussants: Ruth Behar, University of Michigan; Jason De Leon, University of Michigan



Po(r)Tability and Quanta of Solace:  Water As a Life Matter

Diane Nelson, Duke University

On #Blacklivesmatter Moments 

Laurence Ralph, Harvard University

Refugee Matters and the Anthropological Gaze

Catherine BestemanColby College

Visual Witnessing:  Affect, Repair, and Afro-Diasporic Counterpublics

Deborah ThomasUniversity of Pennsylvania

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