W3: Fully Automated Luxury Anthropology?
PrecAnthro: A space to organize collectively toward a transnational anthropological union before neoliberal changes make professional solidarity impossible.
Aim of the workshop
This workshop explores the future of anthropology in and outside academia vis-à-vis the utopian promises of freedom offered by growing labour automation and the rising gig economy.
The introduction of digital technologies has changed both our research and teaching practices. On the one hand, anthropologists doing fieldwork are now better connected and more mobile, cutting across temporal and spatial isolation of fieldwork and performing as other academics multiple tasks including publications, conferencing, teaching via virtual learning environments and unbundled online provision. The growing rupture between anthropological training and academic work and the preparation of anthropologists for wider commercial job markets with flexible gigs of research and consultancy work hint at a utopian promise of a post-work society. On the other hand, the ever shorter circuit of personal and professional life – the social pressure of 24/7 online availability and constant geographical mobility in search of promotion, cyclical project culture of perpetual grant application, the publish-or-perish imperative, and the casualization of the labour present a much bleaker and quite dystopian picture: one in which technologies are used for audit, surveillance, control and replacement of teaching and research activity by machines lacking human agency, commitment and care.
What will be going on in the workshop
Engaging participants in a discussion of the utopian and dystopian scenarios, the workshop is aimed at provoking them to critically inquiring which aspects of their own research and teaching practice could and should not be marketised, casualised and digitalised in the anthropological future.
- critical (re)assessment and awareness of processes facing the university as a workplace and the labour market for anthropologists outside academia