Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Association for Political and Legal Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students
Primary Theme: The Political
Secondary Theme: Materiality
This session takes up the ethnographic puzzles and analytic quandaries raised by Annelise Riles in her 2000 "The Network Inside Out" in order to refract them against recent disciplinary trends that examine the relationship between materiality, discourse, and affect. In her influential book, Riles sought to address the methodological problem of how to "render the familiar accessible ethnographically" (2000, 6), by turning the locus of her ethnography, the "network," inside out. This panel brings together ethnographic research on international organizations and meetings that examine how engineers, scientists, lawyers, diplomats, and bureaucrats (and other actors) produce material realities through their "informational practices" of institutional activity with respect to loss and damage, climate narratives, greenhouse gas emissions, and nuclear governance. Additionally, these papers will also illuminate how material realities constrain the institutional efforts of the organizations (and our collaborators) to act in the world.
By bringing into dialogue work on the questions of scale (Carr & Lempert 2016) and the ever elusive location of praxis which has vexed anthropologists since "globalization" made "multi-sitedness," these contributions will address what it means to study the practices of people who work through techniques of spatial and temporal proxies (e.g. modeling glacial melt or remote sensing activities). Further, touching on Riles' descriptions of the "awe" felt by her interlocutors in the process of crafting a consensus document for the Beijing Women's conference, we too will take up the affective dimensions of institutional activity and examine the pleasures and frustrations generated by aesthetic form and network practices.