Call for papers - LabUK 1st Workshop

18 June 2013

Why the UK: How can the ethnography of Britain contribute to the major discussions in the anthropological agenda?

11 September 2013


Originally, the discipline of anthropology focused on the ethnography of isolated or distant indigenous societies, mainly grouped under the category of “non-western”. The particularity of the anthropological object set the boundary between this and other disciplines, such as sociology and social geography. Following from that, the few ethnographies conducted in “western” societies remained a secondary anthropological enterprise, the focus of researchers who had already done ethnography abroad and had returned to their homeland. However, post-colonial studies problematized the understanding of isolated and distant indigenous societies forcing us to re-evaluate the dichotomy between “western” and “non-western”. If this dichotomy was called into question, the discipline of anthropology was forced to reorganize its agenda in order to overcome such division. One direct consequence is the re-introduction of the so-called “western” societies as a primary site for fieldwork, forcing anthropology to re-define itself and overcome the spatial particularity that used to characterize the field.

This one-day workshop, held in UCL, will bring together in-house ethnographers of the UK, postgrad students and senior researchers in the department, to share their ideas about WHY ethnography in the UK is important – either by producing a new article or presenting some existent work**.

Why the UK? How can the study of this society promote the kind of ground-breaking ideas that “non-western” societies do? How do we differentiate anthropology from other disciplines studying the UK, such as sociology and social-geography? What is the role of ethnography of the UK in the anthropological agenda?

Papers will be precirculated and participants will be asked to contribute five book references to build up the LabUK bibliography. The anticipated reading should encourage in-depth discussions that will be recorded and, together with the articles and bibliography, made available on our website. The objective is to leverage our website as a hub and meeting point for the study of Britain.

UCL has the privilege of grouping in its anthropology department some of the major works done by ethnographers of the UK, from master students to senior researchers. At the beginning of 2013 the LabUK was created, aiming to provide an opportunity for those separate efforts to convene in a collective agenda. By bringing together scholars of the UK in the Department of Anthropology, the workshop aims to define the official beginning of the LabUK activities, bring awareness to the strong body of work that UCL already produces, and enable dialogue and exchange across diverse perspectives. This will support awareness of our work as individuals and as a group, strengthen the negotiation of grants, and create a foundation for future researches of Britain.

** We would like to publish the articles presented in the workshop on our website so it is important that the text does not have publishing restrictions.

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words to Carol Balthazar (a.balthazar.11@ucl.ac.uk) and register your participation by 22th July 2013. Send papers of no more than 2000 words by 21th August 2013. All papers will be precirculated by 28th August 2013.

Daryll Forde Seminar Room (Room 230 – Second Floor of Anthropology Department at 14 Taviton Street)

11 September 2013, from 9am to 5pm.

Joanna Cook and Carol Balthazar