SIEF2023 16th Congress

Brno, Czech Republic:
7-10 June 2023

Keynotes

Marylin Strathern portrait

Prof. Marylin Strathern

Uncertain relations: Limits and possibilities
The convenors have set out the multivalent character of ‘uncertainty’ as at once opening up terrains riddled by catastrophe, reminding us of a quality of being lived with every day, and promising alternative paths and possibilities. This talk offers one way in which to key in to this complex field. It proposes to interrogate the notion of uncertainty through another multivalent notion, ‘relations’. Might our ability to perceive relations -- activate them, embody them and enquire with them -- help us acknowledge the role that uncertainty plays in our lives? Might thinking of relations as uncertain in their capacities and effects throw light on what we ask from knowledge practices in order to enlarge and/or shrink the world in which we live? From global crises to fieldwork encounters, presenting certain ways of thinking uncertainty through relations hopes to sketch something of the broader themes of this conference.

Marilyn Strathern is Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology at Cambridge. Her research career began with work on kinship and gender relations, with a Melanesian emphasis, and she is best known for The gender of the gift (1988). She subsequently pursued anthropological approaches to assisted conception, intellectual property and audit cultures. While a recent book is Relations: an anthropological account (2020), her most sustained address to uncertainty (apropos the comparative method) is to be found in Partial Connections (1991).
Attribution: Carletti for Balzan Prize

 

 

Andrea Petö portrait

Andrea Petö

Teaching and Writing the Truth Today: Five Options
Bertold Brecht, wrote in his 1935 piece, Writing the Truth. Five Difficulties as follows: “It takes courage to say that the good were defeated not because they were good, but because they were weak.” In this talk I am exploring and analyzing the question, why are we so weak today even though we know that we are the good ones? We are losing the fight over defining values which is not an unfortunate accident. The recent rise of illiberalism and neo-fascism is not a natural catastrophe, it has its reasons and causes. And even earthquakes can be forecasted if one is attentive enough. During earthquakes, some well-built houses withstand the tremor, while others collapse. In my talk, I am interested in the reason for our sleepwalking, for our ignorance of the causes and reasons that lead to our becoming weak. We can only stop sleepwalking with a culture that comes from education. The talk discusses what education and educators can do today to write and teach the truth.

Andrea Pető is a historian and a Professor at the Department of Gender Studies at Central European University, Vienna, Austria, a Research Affiliate of the CEU Democracy Institute, Budapest, and a Doctor of Science of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Her works on gender, politics, Holocaust, and war have been translated into 23 languages. In 2018 she was awarded the 2018 All European Academies (ALLEA) Madame de Staël Prize for Cultural Values. She is Doctor Honoris Causa of Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden. Recent publications include: The Women of the Arrow Cross Party. Invisible Hungarian Perpetrators in the Second World War. Palgrave, Macmillan, 2020. And Forgotten Massacre: Budapest 1944. DeGruyter, 2021. She writes op-ed pieces for many international and national media about academic freedom and illiberal higher education.

 

Plenaries

Uncertainty and Methodologies


Abstract
Every day culture is in many cases a communal exploration of the unusual, the unexpected, the scary, risky, and frightening, a human response to experienced, imagined, narrated, and performed uncertainties (Ellis). When we lack trust in information, or have poor access, we turn to each other, communally negotiating uncertain situations by hybridizing present-day and inter-generational knowledge (Tangherlini).
Folklore and Ethnology, with their person- and practice-centred ethnographic approaches, offer some of the most powerful approaches to understanding this ‘tempting, treacherous border areas between the known and unknown parts of life’ (Palmenfelt). But how are our methodologies responsive to uncertainty? How can established ethnographic methods cope with and adapt to new challenges? What innovative approaches can we devise for highly fluid situations? As individuals confront and live with what is perceived as instability, how can our fields help us understand the mechanisms involved and, following an activist model, press them into service in building resilient communities?

Plenary speakers (in alphabetical order)

  • Tatiana Bužeková, Department of Ethnology, Comenius University, Slovakia
  • Eerika Koskinen-Koivisto, Department of History and Ethnology, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Kyrre Kverndokk, Cultural Studies Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion, University of Bergen, Norway
  • Tim Tangherlini, Department of Scandinavian, University of California – Berkeley, USA

Moderator
Soňa Gyárfáš Lutherová, Institute of Ethnology and Social Anthropology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Slovakia

 

+ Speakers' biographies

 

Closing roundtable - On the Precarity of Our Disciplines: Possible Ways Forward


Abstract
Precarity in and of our disciplines is a threat of which we are well aware and cannot ignore. We are privileged, as academics, but such privilege is distributed unevenly, leaving many posts and a growing number of scholars in precarious situations. This is mirrored in our fields of Ethnology, Folklore Studies, and Anthropology and, on a larger scale, in the Social Sciences and Humanities as a whole. Precariousness on both individual and disciplinary levels is renewed and strengthened by the normalisation of uncertainty through unreliable and inconsistent funding mechanisms, omnipresent audit cultures, short-term contracts, etc. At times, the growing precarity of our disciplines might seem inevitable, but it need not be like this.

The aim of the roundtable is to generate ideas on how to counter the trend of growing academic precarity. We aspire to seek possible ways forward, looking to build more resilient pathways for new scholars.

Closing plenary speakers (in alphabetical order)

  • Čarna Brković (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany)
  • Martin Fotta (Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic)
  • Roger Norum (University of Oulu, Finland)
  • Clara Saraiva (University of Lisbon, Portugal)

Moderator
Monique Scheer (University of Tübingen, Germany)

 

+ Speakers' biographies

Čarna Brković is Associate Professor in Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnology at the University of Mainz. She obtained BA in Ethnology and Anthropology from the University of Belgrade and PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Manchester. Čarna is currently completing a book manuscript on how the transformation from Yugoslav socialism to neoliberal capitalism changed the meaning and practice of humanitarianism in Montenegro.

 

Martin Fotta is a researcher at the Institute of Ethnology at the Czech Academy of Sciences. He is one of the cofounders of the PrecAnthro Collective (2016). For the PrecAnthro and EASA he co-authored a report on changes to the academic profession and the casualisation of labour in Europe entitled ‘The Anthropological Career in Europe: A Complete Report on the EASA Membership Survey’. In 2021, Martin received a ‘Lumina quaeruntur’ award by the Czech Academy of Sciences. The award has enabled him to establish a research team with whom he works on a project entitled ‘Roma Atlantic: Transcontinental Logics of Ethno-Racial Identities.’

 

Roger Norum is Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Oulu, Finland, where he is Deputy Director of the Biodiverse Anthropocenes research programme. His research focuses on linkages between environment, infrastructure and mobility, primarily among transient communities in the Arctic and Asia.
He is founding editor of Palgrave’s ‘Arctic Encounters’ book series and is chair of the World Congress of Environmental History, to be held in August, 2024 in Oulu.

 

Clara Saraiva (PhD 1999) is a social and cultural anthropologist, a senior researcher at the Institute for the Social Sciences, University of Lisbon (ICS-UL). She was a Visiting Professor at University of California Berkeley (2013), Brown University (2001–02 and 2008) and a Research Fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown (2001–02 and 2008). She works on the anthropology of religion and ritual, death, medical anthropology, and religion and heritage. She was PI on the HERA project HERILIGION, analysing relations between religion and heritage. She is the President of the Association of Portuguese Anthropology (APA), a board member of the World Council of Anthropological Associations (WCAA), a board member of the WCAA Ethics Task Force, and a past vice-president of the Society for International Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF).