Collaborations and Confrontations in World Anthropologies during the Cold War and Beyond

Panel Details

Format: hybrid

Short Abstract

Several “waves” of decolonizing anthropology have given rise to a vision of a world anthropology, in which the power hierarchies of center and periphery, “local” and “global”, indigenous “informants” and western academics would be flattened or erased. The conveners of this panel claim that it is high time to take stock of our understanding of the nature of relations between various “national” traditions and ideological inclinations within world anthropology. We seek to broaden the concept of Cold War anthropology to include histories of anthropology in the second and third world in their relations with each other and the west. This panel seeks contributions from anthropologists and historians of anthropology, which reflect on historical, political, and epistemological contexts of production of anthropological knowledge, including but not limited to those of the Cold War epoch. Presented cases might include histories of international conferences, joint expeditions, transfer of ideas, geopolitics of knowledge, or life-histories of individual scholars, involved in such activities. We are interested in histories of collaborations between scholars of the second and third worlds in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. We also look forward applications dealing with similarities and differences of decolonizing processes in the East and West and the role anthropologists play(ed) in them.

Abstract

Anthropologists and historians of anthropology has discussed the embeddedness of anthropology in imperialism and Western colonialism for decades (Asad 1973, Kucklick 1993, Stocking 1991). Several “waves” of decolonizing anthropology have given birth to a vision of a world anthropology, in which the power hierarchies of center and periphery, “local” and “global”, indigenous “informants” and Western academics would be flattened or even erased (Pels 2018). At the same time, globalization of scientific knowledge production entails imposing presumably universal Western-centered academic standards. Current research of the “Cold War anthropology” may serve as a pertinent example. Due to the work of David H. Price and other scholars, this concept gained currency (Price 2004, 2008, 2016; Wax, 2009). Still, this concept remains remarkably USA-centered and rarely takes into account activity of scholars from rival Cold War camp. The study of geopolitics of Cold War knowledge production is a vibrant emerging field (Djagalov 2020, Engerman, 2009, Hazard 2012, Rupprecht 2015), but it rarely focuses on anthropology (but Verdery 2018). Conveners of this panel claim that now it is high time to take stock of our understanding of the nature of relations between various “national” traditions and ideological inclinations within world anthropology (Bošković, Hann 2013). This panel seeks contributions from anthropologists as well as historians of anthropology, which reflect on historical, political, and epistemological contexts (Stocking) of production of anthropological knowledge, including but not limited to those of the Cold War epoch. We are interested in accounts of both confrontations and collaborations of anthropologists from different national traditions and ideological “camps”. These cases might include histories of international conferences, joint expeditions, transfer of ideas, or life-histories of individual scholars, involved in such activities. We are especially interested in still poorly researched histories of collaborations between scholars of the second and third worlds in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. However, one should not collapse ideological and geographical space: leftist anthropologists in the West and “revisionists” in the East encountered similar issues in dealing with establishment. Another important line of research we look forward to deals with similarities and differences of decolonizing tendencies in the East and West and the role anthropologists play in them.

Keywords:

World anthropology, history, decolonization

Application sponsorship:

Applicant

Person: Dr. Sergei Sergeevich Alymov
Organization and department: Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, RAS, Department of the Russian People
Country, city and state: Russia, Moscow, Russia

Co-convenors

Co-convenor #1: Dr. David George Anderson , University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom