Dependent Autonomies: Cultivation and Evasion in the Constitution of Alternative Loci of Authority

Session at the AAA Annual Meeting
Washington, DC, Nov 29-Dec 3, 2017

It is often observed that dependence and autonomy are mutually constitutive of one another. Whether through a political demand, cultural formation, or economic process, the expression of autonomy often entails breaking and forging dependencies in various forms. Likewise, the evasion of one kind of authority and the cultivation of another is often achieved by seeking autonomy through relations of dependence. Authority—both its cultivation and evasion—provides a frame for conceptualizing the interrelationship of autonomy and dependence.

We see this as part of a broader political anthropology that concerns itself not only with the authority of the fictitious monolith of the “state” but with different loci of authority and their dialectical dance with relations of autonomy and dependence. How are loci of authority—cultural, political, religious, or otherwise—constituted through the cultivation and evasion of alternative, or competing, authorities? What “fictions” of autonomy do these authorities depend upon for their reproduction and maintenance? What hidden dependencies are implicated in projects of creating autonomy and how do they work to reconfigure the topography of authority or authorities in a given place? How do transcendent or immanent forms of authority imply different relations of autonomy or dependence?

We invite contributions that focus on one or more of the following topics, or on topics that derive from the general theme of the panel:

– the intersection of religious and secular modes of authority

– self-determination and self-management

– authority in a context of absolute autonomy/anarchist concepts of autonomy

– evasion of authority in the context of state formation and surveillance

– shared ethical dispositions in the cultivation or evasion of authority

– autonomy and dependence in relation to decolonization and postcolonial sovereignty

We are requesting abstract submissions on or before March 15.

Brinton Ahlin, New York University,

Mark Drury, CUNY-Graduate Center,