Ethnographic and artistic practices and the question of the images in contemporary Middle East

Convenors: Donatella Della  Ratta (University of Copenaghen) & Paola Gandolfi (University of Bergamo)

The question of the image in the ethnographic practices, the multiple narratives of the violence by means of the images, the challenge of the experimentation among artistic practices, performances, and ethnographic practices

Which is the role of the images in the contemporary ethnographic practices? Which ethnographies of the contemporaneity are possible nowadays, involving the images or rather an innovative use of the images in an ethnographic perspective? Which are the interrelation among the productions of images, the practices of the contemporary media communication, the practices of the visual art and the ethnographic practices?

Taking into consideration the recent debate about the necessity of a new reflection around the meaning and the role of the images in the contemporaneity, this panel aims to question about the urgency of a dialogue among artistic practices and ethnographic practices, as well as around ethnography as a methodological approach in the production and the fruition of images.

The complex articulations among ethnography and art are debated today in multiple ways, not only because the contemporary artistic practices are analyzed by ethnographic research but mainly because the object of the analysis is how some artistic practices might contribute to the experimentation of innovative ethnographic practices, in the perspective of an ethnography of the contemporaneity (Schneider and Wright, 2013) interested in questioning what is contemporaneous today  (Agamben, 2008).

Some works of visual anthropology propose a discussion around an original conversation between art and ethnography (Schneider, 2008, Wright and Schneider, 2010, Schneider and Pasqualino 2014), with the aim of experimenting ethnographic practices interacting with artistic experimentations and vice versa. Here, the aim is to analyse some of these issues in specific contexts in the Near and Middle East.

What do the digital images and the videos add to ethnographic practices and how does an ethnographic approach contribute to the creation of images and visual narratives? How can the hyper-presence and the construction of the images contribute to create a fieldwork and how can images make part of a fieldwork?  Such questions will be debated in the specific contexts of the contemporaneous Middle East, with the intention of investigating the complex articulation among the ongoing change processes, the recent uprisings, the revolutionary processes and the state of the violence in Middle East. Taking into account an history of the Near and Middle East giving value to an historical and sociopolitical approach for the comprehension of the contemporary scenarios (Bozarslan, 2008, 2015), the point will be the analysis and the debate of some of the most recent ethnographic perspectives investigating the multiple and very actual performances of the violence, among which the new media as instruments of  performance of the daily violence.

We will discuss how we can make an ethnography nowadays in contemporary contexts marked by a culture which is also a digital one or, rather, a culture made by specific performative practices, in societies in which communication is related to a necessity of images and visibility which are deeply contemporaneous (Zimmer, 2015; Della Ratta, 2015; Brighenti, 2010).  All that is related to social and cultural dynamics and specific processes of aesthetization. Therefore, we will propose a debate around how contemporaneous can be related to images, imaginary and imagination (Anderson, 1991; Appadurai, 1996, Bhabha, 1998), as well as to a new relationship between aesthetics and narrative. Within this framework, this panel aims at debating the articulations and interactions among artistic practices, ethnographic practices and the role and the use of images in ethnography (Shapiro, 2013), and the actual implications of an ethnography of the contemporaneity in Middle East.

Taking into account some critical and innovative ethnographies in Middle East (nowadays at the core of specific constructions of images, performances and dissonant narratives, with both a local and a transnational relevance), we wish to propose an analysis of those ethnographies able to observe the complexity of the daily life, in the awareness of the multiple and ambiguous meanings of the images of the reality, experimenting the production of images and alternative narratives, as much close as possible to the contemporaneous reality.


Agamben Giorgio (2008) Che cos’è il contemporaneo?, Roma, Nottetempo.

Anderson Benedict (1991) Imagined Communities, London, Verso.

Appadurai Arjun (1996) Modernity at large, University of Minnesota. University of Minnesota Press.

Bhabha Homi (1994), The location of culture, London, Routledge.

Bozarslan Hamit (2008), Une histoire de la violence au Moyen Orient, Paris, La découverte.

Bozarslan, Hamit (2015), Révolutions et état de violence. Moyen Orient 2011-2015. Paris, CNRS Editions.

Brighenti Andrea Mubi (2010), Visibility in Social Theory and Social Research, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

Della Ratta Donatella (2015), Violence and Visibility in Contemporary Syria: an ethnography of the “expanded places”, CyberOrient On Line Journal of the Virtual Middle East, forthcoming 2015.

Schneider Arnd. (2008) Three Modes of Experimentation with Art and Ethnography ,  Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) 14,, pp. 171-194.

Schneider Arnd et Wright Chris (eds.)  (2013). Anthropology  and Art Practice. New York, London, Bloomsbury Publishing.

Schneider Arnd et Pasqualino C. (2014). Experimental Film and Anthropology. London,  Bloomsbury Publishing.

Shapiro Michale J (2015),  Studies in trans-disciplinary method : after the aesthetic turn, New York-London,  Routledge.

Wright Chris et Schneider Arnd (2010). Between Art and Anthropology : Contemporary Ethnographic Practice. New York, Berg Publishers.

Zimmer, Catherine (2015) Surveillance Cinema, New York and London, New York University Press.

Subjectivity, surveillance and control. Ethnographic research on forced migration towards Europe

Convenors: Elena Fontanari (University of Milano ) & Barbara Pinelli (Univesity of Milano Bicocca)

As a strategic point of observation on forced mobilities, the Euro-Mediterranean area is also the place where is possible to analyze the policies of control, selection and monitoring of refugees and asylum seekers.

In this articulated and complex scenario, migratory movements are both framed by historical forms of mobility, and trace new routes. In order to contain the multiple mobilities, national states, EU institutions and international control agencies increasingly shift and externalize their borders outside the European territories, expanding the surveillance and the selection scope. The reinforcement and geographical extension of the externalization policies of European borders (i.e. the process of Khartoum, the delegation to Frontex of the rescue operations, military missions such as EUNAVFOR Med) go hand in hand with a narrowing of the space for the migrants’ rights. Migrants are forced to find autonomous spaces of action, where protection policies shelter them less and less.

This session focuses on ethnographic research in order to analyze the relationships that actually occur between policies, social forces and forms of subjectivity. The premise is to offer an analysis on migration for asylum in Europe, starting from the concrete experiences of migrants once they arrived in Europe. Particularly, we focus on empirical research that highlight the tension between structural dynamics associated with the control and governance of forced migration, and the social practices of subjects, who – moving between legal and “illegal” regimes – attempt to rebuild their lives after they escaped from places of first arrival or crossed national borders to reach other social contexts.

The panel aims to provide a discussion on the restriction of the European space starting from the experience of landing and transit, and from the everyday practices of migrants. Examples are the movements of migrants through which they challenge the legal and territorial borders and the agreements of Schengen and Dublin; the tent camps built close to the agricultural areas to be employed in the harvest work; the temporary settlements positioned in extemporaneous places or public places such as the train station Milano Centrale; Calais and Ventimiglia; homes and tent camps near the places of entry into the reception system, for example in large urban areas of central/northern Italy, or in places such as the hinterland of the southern regions; the attempts to escape the finger prints procedure.

We are interested in ethnographic contributions that address the following issues:

  •  migration control: policies of military intervention and/or coercive intervention, humanitarian regimes, surveillance policies and practices
  •  the political construction of regime of regularity/irregularity
  •  camps and confinement forms: regimes, selections, surveillance and abandonment policies and practices
  •  at the margins of the protection system: transits, border-crossing, stationing, entrance zones

Critical Ethnographies of Schooling

Convenors: Fulvia Antonelli (University of Bologna) & Marco Romito (University of Milano)

Challenging the assumption that schools are the major mechanism for the development of a democratic and egalitarian society, critical research interrogate the nature of the relationship between formal education and the dominant cultural and social order.

Ethnographic method played and play a crucial role in engaging a critical dialogue with macro theories of schooling. On the one hand, ethnographies provide vivid description of how social order is able to reproduce itself within the subjectivities, needs and experiences of teachers, educators, students. On the other hand, being particularly interested to the subjectivities of subalterns groups and cultures, ethnographic method offer the opportunity to highlight that the dynamics of reproduction take place within a cultural terrain marked by resistance, contestation and struggles; points of departure for a radical pedagogy aimed to produce social changes.

Today school life is increasingly characterized by tensions, open and tacit conflicts. Austerity regimes and the political hegemony of neoliberal ideologies pose complex challenges to public school needing to face old contradictions and new epochal phenomena: globalization, international migrations, the urban (and school) segregation processes following cities restructuring around the globe, the new emphasis on standardized evaluation aimed at inter and intra-national comparisons, the accelerated path of technological innovations, the devaluation of teachers’ profession, the deep changes of labor markets, the challenges to the meaning of doing school and of being at school today. School players, students, families, attempt to find innovative practices to face these phenomena as well as new ambivalent strategies to protect the school order or to challenge it.

This session welcomes ethnographic contributions critically exploring the processes of formal education through fieldwork carried out within schools or through studies analyzing the production and implementation of public policies (at local, national or super-national level) within this field. Researches reflecting on ideologies, habitus, generational and social class cultures, organizational practices, professional identities, power and hierarchical relationship that foster or limit school drop-out, participatory processes, social emancipation and democracy are particularly encouraged.

Lived Religion. An ethnographical insight

Convenors: Alberta Giorgi (Universidade de Coimbra), Stafania Palmisano (University of Torino) & Giovanna Rech (University of Trento)

Religion today lies at the heart of a cultural and political debate, related to immigration, human rights, the role of women and democracy in general. Various questions are asked about what criteria define a lay, pluralistic space and its physical and symbolical boundaries. From this point of view examination of multiple expressions of religiosity in the human body, in physical and symbolic spaces and in the relationship among individuals, and between individuals and space, assumes critical importance.

For over a century, social sciences have been highlighting that “religion” is a plural category, a composite set of organizations, actors, practices, beliefs, meanings, relations, values and traditions. Since the 1980s, the concept of “lived religion” has expressed a living, fluid, pluralistic and everyday dimension of religions: religion is part of daily life; religiosity is expressed through a variable set of collective and individual, institutionalised and informal, hybrid and codified practices.

We believe that an ethnographical prospective allows us productively to examine such religious ecology and with this end in view we invite contributions dealing with the theme of religion in daily life – lived religion – based on solid empirical analysis.

The areas in which the theme may be declined include:

  • native religions in today’s world
  • religious tradition and innovation
  • female religious experience, for example in churches, in alternative spirituality, in religious groups/movements and in politics
  • mobile religion including pilgrimages and religious tourism;
  • religion, economics and consumption
  • religion, the human body and mass media

Immanence of seduction: for a micro-interactionist perspective on charisma

Convenors: Chiara Bassetti (CNR – University of Trento) & Emanuele Bottazzi (CNR – San Raffaele University)


The group assembly that achieves rhythmic coordination and collective effervescence gives emotional energy and feelings of membership to everyone taking part. But some persons put themselves more in the center of attention, while others are at the outskirts, or even excluded. (Collins, 2015, p. 17)

In everyday situated interaction, there are always those who are at the center. Think of activities such as fascinating a class during a lecture, mesmerizing the audience while telling a story or seducing the crowd while dancing in a club. Work needs to be done to give an empirical account of this peculiar kind of power. We think that in order to understand these phenomena we have to reconsider the Weberian notion of charisma, something that is almost not seen by current micro-interactionist literature.

To this purpose, this very notion needs to be reworked. The original view on charisma, as expressed in Economy and society, was not meant to cover “matters of everyday life”, dominated by patriarchalism and bureaucracy, but as transcending them. Such an exceptional character of charisma holds at the macro- and the meso-level of social life, where it makes sense, for example, to talk of the subjects of charismatic authority as “followers” or “disciples”, or to talk of the enemies of the charismatic leadership as bureaucratic agencies or permanent institutions. However, charisma, we believe, can be considered a phenomenon immanent to the micro-organization of everyday situated interaction.

Intuitively, some elements highlighted by Weber seem to be adaptable to an idea of charisma in micro-interaction, that is: charisma is not appointed by any formal authority, but it is given by proof; charisma is naturally unstable, since it is not an intrinsic property of the one who exercises it; charisma, finally, manifests its revolutionary power from within, by changing attitudes and beliefs of the people under its effect. But to seriously investigate such questions is to find new approaches for understanding, both theoretically and empirically, how the charismatic leader in an interaction changes others’ situated beliefs. May this “micro-leader” be regarded as the one who defines the sense of an interaction, given that s/he is the one who step-by-step compels the others, consciously or not, towards a particular reading of the situation at hand? How such an authority can be analyzed as an ongoing interactional achievement?

We would like to invite empirically-grounded and theoretically-founded contributions that highlight the situated, immanent character of charisma in social interaction.

Further possible topics are the following:

  • It seems that charisma is elusive and difficult to characterize. Is this a limit of the current literature or an intrinsic feature of this very notion?
  • What is the effect of charisma on the orderliness of an ongoing interaction?
  • May charisma be connected to seduction? How does desire spread? How to empirically study affect? How do desire, pleasure and power intertwine in and through social interaction?
  • Are the charismatic micro-leaders those who spread and reproduce, or those who resist and disrupt dominant ideologies and constituted powers?
  • Is charisma in micro-interaction a key to understand Foucauldian micro-powers?
  • Which are the methods to contrast the effects of charisma?
  • What about the immanent, impermanent character of charisma? How can this be related to performance studies and improvisation?
  • How to represent charisma? How to perform onstage (e.g. theatre) the charismatic character? What are the displayed traits of this kind-of-person?
  • Which is the role of the body and embodiment? More generally, which is the aesthetic of charisma?

NGOs, Grass-root Activism and Social Movements: Understanding Novel Entanglements of Public Engagement

Convenors: Filippo Zerilli (University of Cagliary) & Alex Koensler (Queen’s University Belfast)

In recent years non-governmental organizations (NGOs) became an important vehicle to rethink the political sphere and, in particular, to theorize changing forms of public engagement, both in sociology and anthropology (among many initiatives see for instance the “NGO-graphy” conferences). A number of scholars observe how NGOs have assumed functions and responsibilities that were usually managed by states or governmental organizations, arguing that (some) NGOs are now powerful global actors operating consistently with neoliberal governmentality (for example, Transparency International) and unintentionally reproducing existing social divisions and power relations.

In this session, we will focus on a less explored area of research: How do NGOs interact with various forms of grass-root activism and spontaneous social movements? We aim to address questions of how these connections might reveal uneven and novel configurations of public engagement, including a study of the multifaceted and unintended consequences of social justice, development or human rights. While according to some scholars traditional social movements have now been absorbed by “the culture of projects” (Sampson 2002), others argue that the growing number of NGOs around the world also generates new, unprecedented forms of activism that challenge existing forms of engagement that pose new questions about the “collective fiction” of the state (Bourdieu 2015). Based on ethnographic research, we would also like to draw specifically attention to these emerging forms of public engagement. Ethnography is uniquely situated to illuminate both “emerging forms of life” (Fisher 2009) and the complex web micro-politics surrounding the intersections between NGOs, activism and movements. Albeit we do have in mind our own ethnographic experiences with activism and NGOs related to themes such as agro-food activism, property restitution, or political tourism, this session does not intend to focus on a particular topic or geographic region.

In particular, we ask: On which particular ground NGOs and activist groups meet and cooperate (or refuse cooperation) one with each other, and why? What sort of tensions and contradictions their alliances and collaborations have produced in specific settings? How to assess the success (and the failure) of similar encounters at different scales? Is member affiliation to a specific NGO influencing particular forms of social activism and excluding others? How people negotiate complex interdependencies between the logic of organizations they belong to, and their social and political aspirations in everyday life? What sort of compromises, collisions, and collusions such intersections produce? How do local, national and supranational actors intersect in such encounters? How does the evolving processes between NGOs and grass-root practices enable spaces of resistance and/or complicity? In a broader web of social relations, what are the unintended consequences of these new forms of public engagement?


Bourdieu, P. (2015) On the State. Polity, London.

Fischer, M.M.J. (2009) Anthropological Futures. Duke University Press, Durham.

Sampson, S.L. (2002) Weak States, Uncivil Societies and Thousands of NGOs: Benevolent Colonialism in the Balkans. In S. Resic and B. Törnquist-Plewa (eds.), The Balkans in Focus: Cultural Boundaries in Europe, Lund University Press, Lund, 27-44.

Innovating Universities. Everything needs to change, so everything can stay the same?

Convenors: Daniela Falcinelli (University of Milano) & Annalisa Murgia (University of Trento)

The dominance of the neoliberal paradigm in recent years has significantly changed the way universities are run. They have progressively adopted the principles of New Public Management (NPM), which are based on centralizing leadership, increasing competition and greater participation in decision-making by entities that are external to the academic world. Thus, university governance has undergone a process of transformation that has shifted it in the direction of managerial logics, both in terms of how to handle the decision-making processes, and in response to the need to find external funding to guarantee teaching as well as research activities. These transformations, though in a slightly different way in different countries, have had noticeable effects on courses of study and academic autonomy, as well as on the theoretical and methodological approaches used in scientific research. In fact, almost all funding for research is now apportioned based on the assessment of projects, often with an eye to finding good fundraising opportunities, rather than to investing in fields of research that do not necessarily have a short-term impact and/or clear applications.

In conjunction with this, the progressive liberalization of the academic world has translated into a general deterioration of working conditions for people working at all levels in universities, with an inevitable effect on the quality of what has turned into a real training and research marketplace. Among the most significant mutations that have marked the academic world is the exasperated growth of competitiveness, accompanied by the ever increasing and prolonged uncertainty of embarking on a scientific career, which is becoming more fragmented and focused on the short term. These processes only intensify the application of evaluation criteria that are based on efficiency, pushing researchers, especially those not in stable positions (or tenure tracks), to always produce more, applying ever higher international standards, and ever more fastly. Moreover, this happens in a professional context in which the pressure to increase productivity erodes the time and space boundaries that delimit the working times. Furthermore, these are phenomena characterised – we could say on a global scale – by notable differences,  in terms of gender and age, not to mention social class.

In this session we solicit ethnographic and qualitative contributions, including comparative ones, that examine the changes taking place in the academic world, either with respect to social, economic, legal or political contexts, or to organizational changes and to the current state of scientific careers both in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and in SSH (Social Sciences and Humanities). We accept contributions both in Italian and in English.

Young people practicing everyday multiculturalism: An ethnographic look

Convenor: Enzo Colombo (University of Milano)

This section welcomes theoretically informed and ethnographically grounded papers on young people’s practical uses of cultural difference. We are interested in empirical analysis focusing on institutional and urban situations in which young adults use cultural difference as a rhetorical tool for producing meanings, regulating relations, and defining criteria for inclusion, exclusion and recognition. We invite papers that explore young people’s quotidian experiences of cultural difference and diversity, presenting grounded research on the topic of multiculturalism which analyse the ways in which people experience and (dis)engage with cultural difference.

We welcome papers that examine situations of everyday, mundane, multiculturalism, in which at least one of the actors involved use cultural difference as a political tool and as a rhetorical strategy for either claiming recognition, respect, inclusion, and producing solidarity ties or for drawing boundaries that establish specific social hierarchies, produce exclusion, selective accessibility, and protection of privileges. We are interested in papers that explore the intersections and relationships between cultural  groups, rather than research taking a single ethnic group as a focus.

This session also aims to focus on ethnographic analysis of racialization processes and anti-racist actions; that is, situations in which ‘race’ (as well as other categories that are reified through naturalizing practices and discourses) is constructed and/or de-constructed in order to discipline interactions, define subjects status, and regulate access to scarce resources.

Papers can also examine:

  • young people’s modes of living with and across difference in cities, at school, at work, in public spaces, doing shopping, playing sport, enjoying free time, etc.
  • intersection between generation identification, gender, class, religion and any other social categorization used to draw boundaries between “Us” and “Them”
  • multicultural place-sharing and battles over place identity and belonging
  • interconnections between young people practices and attitudes and larger discourses of multiculturalism and national belonging

We invite papers that engage critically with the methodological and theoretical challenges of undertaking ethnographic research on urban spaces, changing citizenship and personal belonging, including but not limited to question such as the positionality of the researcher in multicultural contexts.

Both Italian and English papers and presentations will be accepted.

Ethnography of predatory and mafia practices

Convenors: Marco De Biase (Université Libre de Bruxelles) & Lucio Castracani (Université de Montreal)

pescatori_Session DeBiase

Violence, illegality and predatory practices have played a fundamental role in the processes of wealth accumulation and in the development of social elites (Marx 1872; Wallerstein 1978; Braudel 1979). Today, these particular economic practices of capital accumulation have found a new strength and have spread within the increasing relationships between legal/illegal and formal/informal dynamics, characterizing capitalist market economy (Harvey 2005). The most of scientific literature concerning this kind of economic practices has frequently linked these mechanisms of predation to the role of mafia or criminals organizations. These studies did not allow to understand a wide range of economic practices of wealth accumulation, the fragmentation and violence of some paths of social mobility, proposing to analyse these practices as the result of mafia activities that bypass the normal functioning of the capitalist market (De Biase 2015 Allum 2014; Santino 1994; 2007; Braudel, 1988).

Indeed, these activities have many similarities to a series of economic dynamics commonly described as mafia practices, but they are rarely analysed as endogenous forms to capitalist mechanisms of wealth accumulation (Sanfilippo and Palidda 2012; Santino 1994; 2006; Vercellone and Lebert 2001; Briquet and Favarel-Garrigues 2008). The aim of this panel is to investigate different economic activities and entrepreneurial careers that base their success and social mobility on the use of violent methods of accumulation and specific strategies of social relations. For this reason, we will address to rethinking the affirmation of predatory practices in the contemporary processes of accumulation, in the extraction of value from workforce, in the monopolization of new markets and in the regulation of competitive relationships. Our objective is to study, trough an ethnographic approach, different economic sectors in order to identify the main factors that ensure entrepreneurial success on the capitalist economic market.

More specifically, we are looking for original ethnographic contributions which explore the role of predatory practices in the processes of capital accumulation, privileging – to some extent – the studies regarding the food chain (from production to distribution and consumption). We maintain, indeed, that the food chain – which has always been marked by the use of violent practices to manage and discipline the workforce, to monopolize economic market and to control commercial trading – represents one of the core sector to understand contemporary world (Moulier-Boutang 1998 Mezzadra 2006).


Boutang, Y. M. 1998, De l’esclavage au salariat: économie historique du salariat bridé, Paris, Presses universitaires de France.

Braudel, F., 1979, Civilisation matérielle, économie et capitalisme, Xv°-XVIII° siècle, 3 tomes, Paris, Armand Colin.

Braudel, F., 1988, La dynamique du capitalisme, Paris, Flammarion.

Briquet. J. L., Favarel-Garrigues, G., (ed.), 2008, Milieux criminels et pouvoir politique: Les ressorts illicites de l’État, Paris, Khartala.

De Biase, M. 2014, “Mafia Practices and Italian Entrepreneurial Activities in the Belgian Food Sector. Research Objectivies”, « The European Review of Organised Crime », 1(2), pp. 81-96.

Harvey, D., 2005, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Marx, K., 1872, Capital. Traduction par Joseph Roy, Paris, Maurice Lechatre.

Mezzadra, S. 2006, Diritto di fuga: migrazioni, cittadinanza, globalizzazione, Verona, Ombre corte.

Sanfilippo, M., Palidda, S., (ed.), 2012, “Emigrazione e organizzazioni criminali”, « Asei Archivio storico dell’emigrazione italiana », 8(12).

Santino, U., 1994, La mafia come soggetto politico, Palermo, Centro Siciliano di Documentazione “Giuseppe Impastato”.

Vercellone, C., Lebert, D., 2001, “La mafia comme expression endogène de l’accumulation du capital”, « Cahiers de Maison des Sciences économiques », 58, pp. 1-36.

Wallerstein, I., 1984, The politics of the world-economy: The states, the movements and the civilizations, Cambridge MA, Cambridge University Press.

Submerged Conflicts. Ethnography of the invisible resistances in the quotidian

Convenor: Pietro Saitta (University of Messina)

pinelli_Session Saitta

Since its appearance in the pioneering pages of Hobsbawm, the concept of resistance is understood as ambivalent, elusive and controversial – more an expression of the “desire” of researchers than a category to grasp the meanings given by social actors for their actions.

In spite of these limits, real or supposed, resulting perhaps more from abuses than from any ontological quality of the category itself, studies on resistance have shed light on the invisible forms of conflict present in societies and environments considered stable and crystallized in the relational asymmetries that have structured them. Country, factory, family, public space and art worlds constitute only some of the spheres explored by social sciences through the lenses provided by the notion of resistance. In particular, such studies have shown that conflict can take forms that are very different from others, explicit and visible, that are typical of more conventional ways of presence in the public sphere. Sabotage, theft, lies, dissimulations, non-cooperative behavior, «production games», the refusal of doing domestic chores or having sexual intercourse, are behaviors that have resulted in private or pathological meanings, but projected also possibilities of an “everyday politics” whose objectives can be elevated and resemble those pursued by mass movements.

If the terrain of studies on resistance was composed of past societies, structures and epochs in Europe, the United States or the colonies, they have shed light also on communities and practices of the present. Above all, they have contributed to viewing the «retro-action» that moves from Europe to the colonies, and from there returns to the homeland, showing the experimental character of the overseas dominions and the overlapping of historical temporalities, the economic geographies as well as the dynamics that occur «there» and «here», simultaneously or in a time lapse. In more blunt terms, studies on resistance show that there are communalities between the European rural past, the colonial «third space» and the «western» present, in spite of clear differences in matters of technology, politics and organization that distinguish these environments. The growing inequalities and asymmetries in the fields of economics and labor, the appearing indifference of extended social components toward political mobilization, the privatization and expropriation of public space by different powers, the violence of social control and, in general, the contemporary forms of «endocolonialism» suggest that the concept of resistance and studies of the invisible forms of conflict in the quotidian still have much to say about the present.

The present call for papers solicits either ethnographic or qualitative contributions that deal with the theme of invisible resistances in the realms of everyday life, labor and public space, and that show how politics and struggles move to private and quotidian plans, often illegal, which parallel the more conventional forms of collective action. Methodological contributions, based both on primary research accounts and secondary ethnographical and historical data that reflect on the problems of the recognition of resistances and the politics of writing, are also encouraged. 

Proposals written in Italian, English and French will be accepted; but the discussion should be preferably in English. Authors interested in this initiative should submit an abstract (700 words) to:

2016 Featured Sessions

  1. Submerged Conflicts. Ethnography of the invisible resistances in the everyday. Convenors: Pietro Saitta (Università di Messina)
  2. Ethnography of predatory and mafia practices. Convenors: Marco De Biase (Université Libre de Bruxelles) & Lucio Castracani (Université de Montreal)
  3. Young people practicing everyday multiculturalism: An ethnographic look. Convenor: Enzo Colombo (Università di Milano)
  4. Innovating Universities. Everything needs to change, so everything can stay the same? Convenors: Daniela Falcinelli (Università di Milano) & Annalisa Murgia (Università di Trento)
  5. NGOs, Grass­root Activism and Social Movements: Understanding Novel. Entanglements of Public Engagement. Convenors: Filippo Zerilli (Università di Cagliari) & Alex Koensler (Queen’s University Belfast)
  6. Immanence of seduction: for a micro-interactionist perspective on charisma. Convenors: Chiara Bassetti (Università di Trento, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche) & Emanuele Bottazzi (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche)
  7. Lived Religion. An ethnographical insight. Convenors: Alberta Giorgi, Stefania Palmisano (Università di Torino) & Giovanna Rech (Università di Trento)
  8. Critical Ethnographies of Schooling. Convenors: Fulvia Anonelli (Università di Bologna) & Marco Romito (Università di Milano)
  9. Subjectivity, surveillance and control. Ethnographic research on forced migration towards Europe. Convenors: Barbara Pinelli (Univesità di Milano Bicocca) & Elena Fontanari (Università di Milano)
  10. Ethnographic and artistic practices and the question of the imagines in contemporary Middle East. Convenors: Donatella Della  Ratta (University of Copenaghen) & Paola Gandolfi (Università di Bergamo)
  11. Diffracting Ethnography in the Anthropocene. Convenor: Elena Bougleux (Università di Bergamo)
  12. Ethnography of labour chains. Convenors: Domenico Perrotta (Università di Bergamo) & Devi Sacchetto (Università di Padova)
  13. The Chicago School and the study of conflicts in contemporary societies. Convenors: Marco Pitzalis & Izabela Wagner (Università di Cagliari)
  14. States of imagination/Imagined states. Performing the political within and beyond the state. Convenors: Federica Infantino (Université Libre de Bruxelles) & Timothy Raeymaekers (Zurich University)
  15. Ethnographies of Waste Politics. Convenor: Nick Dines (Middlesex University)
  16. Experiencing Urban Boundaries. Convenors: Cristina Mattiucci (Università di Trento) & Federico Rahola (Università di Genova)
  17. Ethnographic fieldwork as a “location of politics” – Convenors: Marc Abélès & Lynda Dematteo (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales)
  18. Rethinking ‘Europe’ through an Ethnography of its Borderlands, Peripheries and Margins. Convenors: Ilaria Giglioli, Camilla Hawthorne & Alessandro Tiberio (University of California Berkeley)
  19. Detention and Qualitative Research. Convenors: Alvise Sbraccia (Università di Bologna) & Francesca Vianello (Università di Padova)
  20. Ethnographies of social sciences as a vocation. Convenors: Sebastiano Citroni & Gianmarco Navarini (Università di Milano Bicocca)

Porn Ethnography

Convenor: Gianmarco Navarini (Università di Milano Bicocca)

A man attending a slide show on Africa turns to his wife and says with guilt in his voice: “I’ve seen some pornography this night”. (Trinh T.Minh-Ha, Reassemblage)

On the xvideo website, one of the most popular among the fans of this genre, each video is given a score defined as “porn quality”. However it seems that no one ever understood what that means.

In 1955 Geoffrey Gorer argued that natural death had turned into pornography. Half a century later Jean Baudrillard attributed the same character to new wars.

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