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Matters Out of Place: Landscapes of Absence and Dislocation

*CALL FOR PAPERS* Annual Joint UC Santa Cruz/UC Davis Anthropology Graduate Research Conference

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Humanities 210, 8:00 AM - 5:30 PM

University of California – Santa Cruz


Introductory Remarks: Anna Tsing

Keynote: Morten Pedersen                           


While Mary Douglas' oft-quoted maxim states that, "dirt is matter out of place," it is also the soil in which life takes root. This conference positions landscapes as fertile ground from which to explore the politics of dirt and other matters out of place. Moving away from engagements with landscape as inert background or pristine setting, we seek perspectives on dynamic, dirty landscapes produced by dislocations and emplacements, abandonment and occupation, or human and more-than-human movements. We invite ethnographically engaged papers about landscapes where matter out of place shapes the constraints and conditions in which forms of life take root.

Invasive species, often displaced by human actions, cause people to scramble for control over the altered habitats in which the newcomers flourish.  Refugees work to make a place for themselves in often unwelcoming lands and the specters of past violence continue to haunt the living as unexpected presences.  Matters out of place capture the anthropological imagination because they draw attention to the ways social orders are maintained, destabilized and transformed. They are not simply boundary-making sources of cognitive dissonance, as Mary Douglas' maxim implies, but material presences and absences that lead to unexpected forms of flourishing.  

This conference puts forth a dirty kind of anthropology, one that works the boundaries of social orders as well as the boundaries of anthropology itself. We welcome transdisciplinary paper submissions that address matters out of place as they rework the human and nonhuman arrangements that constitute landscapes, and that consider the histories and politics that shape what counts as matters out of place.  Possible topics include but are not limited to:

* haunted landscapes * transnational spaces * animal diasporas and multispecies worlds * food deserts * migratory territorializations * bodies as landscapes

* informal economies * alternate circuits of circulation * terrains of instability * occupation * ruins * transit corridors * zones of abandonment * sites of accumulation

* the lost or misplaced * altered perceptions of kinship and family *systems in transit


We seek papers from advanced graduate students IN ANY DISCIPLINE, and posters from all graduate students that explore these topics. Senior scholars from across the discipline will comment and facilitate discussions on the papers. The deadline for submissions is Friday, January 17th, 2014. Please email your abstract (250 words) along with your name and institutional affiliation to:ucscagc@gmail.com. Questions can be directed to Lilian Thaoxaochay at cthaoxao@ucsc.edu.


Please distribute attached CFP and Poster