Ethnography: Entanglements and Ruptures

Given some of the current debates about ethnography, colonialism, and anthropological support for counterinsurgency in Human Terrain Teams, this conference hosted and organized for the Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA), the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University in Ottawam, at which Catherine Lutz will be the keynote speaker, could not have been more timely.

Call for Papers
CASCA Conference, May 8-10, 2008, at Carleton University in Ottawa
Ethnography: Entanglements and Ruptures

Ethnographic writing is often seen to rupture taken-for-granted assumptions and to denaturalize rhetoric, including those about “us” and “them.” This conference will explore the ways in which anthropology’s commitment to ethnography is sustainable, problematic, and undergoing transformation in relation to contemporary conditions of anthropological work.  Within the academy, ethnographic research has been received both sympathetically (by hermeneutically-inclined scholars) and unsympathetically (by power/knowledge analyses and ethical review boards).  This conference will explore how this complex institutional field conditions ethnographic research. How have changing job markets for anthropologists limited or opened up new ways of doing anthropology? How have changes to universities under neo-liberal pressures affected the training of anthropologists?

Beyond the academy, ethnography has been under increasing pressure to respond to various social projects and diverse publics including ethnographic subjects, funders, and employers.  The demands of advocacy and participatory research may challenge ethnography on the one hand, but appropriate it for new social uses on the other. To what extent does ethnography change as a genre under these conditions? What challenges do postcolonial and decolonizing methodologies bring to ethnographic practice?

As ethnography assumes its various locations in social life, it coexists with other forms of analysis and practices of representation. This conference will explore the tensions, interactions and collaborations that result. In what ways, for example, are discourse analysis, media and  performance studies external or internal to ethnography as it is currently practiced?

Finally, it can be argued that despite the dire prognosis of the 1980s, ethnography has responded well to a world of trans-national cultural flows, commodity chains, neo-liberal governmentality and empire. To what extent, however, are new ethnographies the same as the sort that became canonized in the 1920s? This conference seeks neither to celebrate nor to excoriate ethnography, but rather to understand it as a social practice situated in a variety of emerging social fields.

While the goal of the conference is to stimulate discussion and critical reflection on ethnography, contributions need not be strictly methodological in character. We welcome any thematic foci that can illuminate anthropological practice in any of the ways outlined above.

Registration Deadline: February 15, 2008
There are three steps to register and submit proposals for the 2008

1. Register (and pay) for CASCA membership at:

2. Register (and pay) for the conference at:

3. Submit abstracts, panel proposals, etc. at:

If you have any questions or need additional information, please
contact the CASCA 2008 organizing committee at or visit