2014

Sessions

Critical ethnographies of cultural heritage in Mediterranean cities. Convenor: Nick Dines

Ethnographies of sport and social change. Convenors: Davide Sterchele & Dino Numerato

Ethnography and the senses. Convenor: Andrea Mubi Brighenti

Ethnography of disasters: history, resistances, struggles. Convenors: Pietro Saitta & Domenica Farinella

Ethnography of multicultural practices. Convenor: Enzo Colombo

Ethnography of populist movements. Convenors: Lynda Dematteo & Marc Abélès

Hegemony/Subalternity. Global scenarios and local practices. Convenor: Elena Bougleux

It’s a free work… When work relations become passionate. Annalisa Murgia & Maurizio Teli

Michel Foucault: ethnography and critique. Convenors: Martina Tazzioli & Orazio Irrera

New ethnographic studies on Italy’s Southern Question(s). Convenor: Domenico Perrotta

Porn Ethnography. Convenor: Gianmarco Navarini

Rhythm in social interaction: some detailed aspects of action-in-interaction. Convenors: Emanuele Bottazzi & Chiara Bassetti

Sacred creativity. Convenors: Stefania Palmisano, Giovanna Rech & Nicola Pannofino

The ethnographer’s body as heuristic instrumentConvenor: Chiara Bassetti

The material infrastructure of ethnography: objects, technologies and artifacts. Convenor: Attila Bruni

Time, Space and Labour. Convenor:  Devi Sacchetto

Urban Conflicts. Convenors: Federico Rahola & Massimiliano Guareschi

Who’s the author? And whose are the findings? Convenor: Paolo Boccagni

Why ethnography today. Emerging ethnographic practices and conventional ethnographic styles.  Convenors: Filippo Zerilli, Franco Lai, Marco Pitzalis

Full Abstract Book

Keynote Speakers

Michael Burawoy and Marc Abélès

Marc Abélès, LAIOS – Laboratoire d’Anthropologie des Institutions et des Organisations Sociales

Directeur d’études à l’EHESS, Directeur de Recherche CNRS, Directeur de l’IIAC

Opening plenary on Thursday 5th:

Globalization and the state

Globalization affects societies by redesigning both global economic space and power configurations. In this context, the states are more and more dependent on economic and the rules of financial markets. Moreover, as a political consequence of the globalization, new forms of transnational institutions are emerging and reshaping the traditional locus of power. We simultaneously experiment with the limits of the concept of sovereignty and the emergence of “multilayered governance” that seems more adjusted to the rise in power of the information society. At the same time, one can question the functionalist perspective which informs most of the studies of the transnational governance, as if the emergence of global-politics could be interpreted as a complexification of institutions necessarily responding to a new globalized order.

In this paper, leveraging on the ethnographies of the political life and institutions I conducted in France and Europe, I will focus on what I call the displacement of politics, i.e. the fact that state is no longer the only protagonist and that the Hegelian dyad of state/civil society has lost its centrality. This displacement is not limited to the appearance of a new political scene in which old institutional powers have been replaced by newer ones, more adapted to deal with the world’s changes. Actually, what can be observed is a global redefinition of the meaning and aims of political action. This redefinition is not simply cognitive. It also shows up in modes of action, in the constitution of organizational and institutional forms, in the selection of issues for public debate, and in the construction of epistemic spaces where this debate will happen. In other words, the redefinition is a matter of governmentality, in its original Foucaldian meaning. In fact, we can speak of a real transition, with a rise in preoccupations of life and survival at the heart of political action, while the issue of the Platonic city and the relationship of the individual to sovereignty, what I call convivance, is relegated to the background.

 

Marc Abélès is an alumnus of Ecole normale supérieure (Paris). He holds a ‘Doctorat de 3e cycle’ and a ‘Doctorat d’Etat’ in Anthropology. Marc Abélès first worked under Claude Lévi-Strauss’s supervision on the political practices of the Ochollo in southern Ethiopia. After joining CNRS he was a member of the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale from 1979 to 1995. Based on his work among the Ochollo, his subsequent research was devoted to political life and institutions in France and Europe. Elections, assembly practices, and political symbolics lie at the core of his work on political life in Burgundy (Quiet days in Burgundy: a study of local politics, 1991, orig. 1989), on the political rituals orchestrated by François Mitterrand (Anthropologie de l’État, 1990), the French Parliament (Un ethnologue à l’Assemblée, 2000), the misadventures of political representation (L’Echec en politique, 2005), and on European parliament (La vie quotidienne au Parlement européen, 1992). In 1993, Marc Abélès directed anthropological research within the European Commission at the latter’s request. More recently, his research has focused on founders of startup companies and philanthropists in Silicon Valley (Les Nouveaux riches. Un ethnologue dans la Silicon Valley, 2002), and on new powers and countervailing powers at play in globalisation (Politique de la survie, 2006). MA sat on the Comité national of CNRS from 1990 to 1998. He has run the LAIOS since its creation with other colleagues in 1995. He was also elected Directeur d’Etudes at Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in 2005, where he teaches anthropology of institutions. Marc Abélès was a Visiting Scholar at Brown University (1997), Stanford University (2000), and invited Professsor at New York University (2004), Boston University (2006), and Universidad de Buenos Aires (2006).

 

Michael Burawoy, University of California Berkeley

Plenary session on Friday 6th:

Philosophy of Praxis: A Gramscian Approach to Ethnography

The main thesis of this paper is that theory and method are inextricably interconnected. Starting from the subjectivity of the dominated, Bourdieu’s theory of symbolic domination leads to notions of misrecognition and the method of participant objectivation, while Touraine’s theory of postindustrial or programmed society leads to notions of historicity and the method of sociological intervention. Antonio Gramsci’s notion of hegemony combines and transcends the theories of Touraine and Bourdieu, leading to the idea of good sense within common sense, built on his philosophy of praxis and a theory of intellectual engagement.The ethnographer elaborates the good sense contained in the practical life of the subjects while combating the bad sense contained in hegemonic ideologies. This method is illustrated with the author’s ethnographies of workers in the United States, Hungary and Russia.

Michael Burawoy has studied industrial workplaces in different parts of the world — Zambia, Chicago, Hungary and Russia — through participant observation. In his different projects he has tried to cast light — from the standpoint of the workplace — on the nature of postcolonialism, on the organization of consent to capitalism, on the peculiar forms of working class consciousness and work organization in state socialism, and on the dilemmas of transition from socialism to capitalism. During the 1990s he studied post Soviet decline as “economic involution”: how the Russian economy was driven by the expansion of a range of intermediary organizations operating in the sphere of exchange (trade, finance, barter, new forms of money), and how the productive economy recentered on households and especially women. No longer able to work in factories, most recently he has turned to the study of his own workplace – the university – to consider the way sociology itself is produced and then disseminated to diverse publics. Over the course of his research and teaching, he has developed theoretically driven methodologies that allow broad conclusions to be drawn from ethnographic research and case studies. These methodologies are represented in Global Ethnography a book coauthored with 9 graduate students, which shows how globalization can be studied “from below” through participation in the lives of those who experience it. Throughout his sociological career he has engaged with Marxism, seeking to reconstruct it in the light of his research and more broadly in the light of historical challenges of the late 20th and early 21st. centuries.

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