CALL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS

Submission deadline postponed to Tuesday 31 May 2022

At this year’s edition, we turn an anthropologically informed lens on questions of generational relationships and cultures to trace how they are increasingly and inevitably enmeshed with questions of sustainability, circularity, environment, and more-than-human policies and design. We want to capture these re/generational entanglements as an inspiration. We want to draw on anthropology’s depth and breadth of theoretical, methodological, and ethnographic knowledge about relations, kinship, time, capital, and materialities,  and to demonstrate that applying this breadth and depth to various domains has a direct material import and practical impact and benefit for business, think tanks, organizations, and ecosystems – in helping solving their problems and in making the world a better place.

The conference will run on 3 tracks:

RE-GENERATION

For example: How do we help build regenerative cultures, infrastructures, business models, supply chains? How do anthropological concepts, theories, and ethnographic methods lend themselves to regeneration by design, and what does regenerative design mean seen through an anthropological lens?

REGENERATING ANTHROPOLOGY

For example: how do we regenerate our beloved discipline – what is in need of renewal, and what is needed to perhaps even bring back from the past? How do we build intergenerational justice in anthropology? How do we innovate in anthropology, and how do we regenerate our own methods and theories? How do new technologies – digital and otherwise – open up spaces for anthropology to claim its place at the table from which we have been missing. How does regenerative anthropology look like?

You can submit a Perspective or a Workshop and select for which track you would like to be considered.

Please read carefully below what “hybrid” means this year before you apply. 

When submitting, you can select if you prefer to deliver on site or online.

Perspectives

Pecha Kucha-style presentations up to 7 – 10 mins, followed by Q&A. Ideal for those creatively inclined, wanting to express their work in powerful and visually-compelling form.

We are inviting our partners, sponsors, members and colleagues around the world to submit their ideas for agile presentations of their work and projects. Perspectives offer a shorter but energetic form of sharing your projects where the form of presentation is open to your imagination: classic, but snap presentation? Compelling visual material? The choice is yours, we are, however, looking for original case studies that speak to the core theme of the conference

Workshops

Action and inspiration-focused workshops offering practical training, demonstrating the application of new frameworks and approaches, building skills and new capacities for both anthropologists and non-anthropologists alike.

We invite workshop organizers – activists, scholars, and practitioners – who could enrich our programme with their practical, “hands-on” demonstration of their work in action. Do you offer specialized workshops around regeneration or more-than-human frameworks or cradle-to-cradle design? Do you have a unique strategy that could help others in their work? Do you teach anthropological and ethnographic methods to companies and organizations? Do you work on a project which focuses on intergenerational justice, inclusive design, regenerative capitalism, or equality that you would like to promote in a hands-on manner? There are no imagination limits to this call, we want to hear and learn from you!

Maximum time you can utilize is 2 hours. We will not accept workshop proposals shorter than 1,5 hour.

What does “hybrid” mean? Onsite in Berlin and online in real-time!

A hybrid conference format allows us to have not only a greater flexibility to adapt the conference to the ongoing uncertainties of the pandemic situation in the world, but also for the conference to be more inclusive in allowing access to our community in real time to colleagues who do not have the ability to travel or are carbon-footprint conscious and prefer to opt for digital means. Please note that the conference and the live stream will be in CET time.

If submitting for PERSPECTIVES, you can select if you would like to deliver your contribution on site or digitally. A hybrid format here means that if you choose to deliver content purely online, it will be livestreamed on screen on site in real time as well, and there will be a moderation of the Q and A bridging the digital and physical audiences. Contributions delivered onsite will be livestreamed in real time online, with digital audiences participating and dedicated moderators interfacing the digital and the physical locations.

If submitting a WORKSHOP, you can also choose to deliver on site or digitally. HOWEVER, for workshops a hybrid format means that online workshops will be held for the online audience ONLY, without the possibility of onsite audience to attend, while onsite workshops will be held for the onsite audience, without the possibility of online audience to attend. This way, the tools/delivery of the workshop will be adapted to the attending audience and facilitate interaction. Another option for you to consider is running a workshop for two separate audiences, one being onsite with one facilitator, and one being online with another. You may do the intro for both groups, and may bring them back together to present to each other in the end, but they should not be mixed teams interacting online and onsite, as this was simply too much organizational complexity. If you choose this option, please comment in the comment section with “workshop option 3.”

If for currently unforeseen reasons we need to transition the conference entirely online, selected participants will be given instruction at that point about how to prepare and what we would need from them.

 THEME FOR THE 10TH ANNUAL WHY THE WORLD NEEDS ANTHROPOLOGISTS

Re/Generation 

Obsolescence – planned and unplanned – haunts our societies and the contemporary global moment. As traditional capitalist business models of product development and creation continue to fill the consumer markets with products and appliances that break weeks after their warranty ends, the landfills overflow with stuff that should be repaired and reused, but is instead discarded. Sustainability efforts at reduction and reuse seem increasingly insufficient in addressing challenges deeply rooted in cultures of wastefulness and mutually reinforced dominant paradigms, such as human-centricity, extraction, and linear growth – paradigms in need of reworking with reciprocity and kinship across systems and categories in mind.  As environmental degradation persists, the entire planet is entering an ostensible end-game phase of obsolescence. “We cannot inherit!” seems to be the unspoken implication of the status quo. In part because a lot of what was taken for granted in the past will become unavailable in the future, and in part because there is what appears to be a revolt along generational lines with youth leading the way for an activist refusal to inherit. In an  yet pandemic reality, coronavirus has forced to the fore the threat of the obsolescence of business-as-usual logics permeating the world of business, innovation, policy, and organizations in every sector, and has exposed how unprepared they are for the uncertainties on an unsettled world. Finally, as big data and algorithms seem to dominate the methods of the hour, ethnography as an embodied form of inquiry itself seems to be in danger of becoming obsolete. Why would the world need anthropologists indeed in these times of damage and decay, dystopia and despair, death and digitization?

Anthropology is a discipline like no other in tackling problems precisely due to our tolerance and understanding of complexity and emergence and our ability to see things from different angles and in various perspectives. Applying anthropology to such problems rearranges the terms in which they are operationalized – and therefore solved. In that, applied anthropologists have always been as shrewd consultants of change as they have been passionate activists for change.

At the 10th Anniversary of Why the World Needs Anthropologists Conference we call on our global community of applied anthropologists to contribute examples of rearranging the terms of this ostensible obsolescence, and to advocate and solve for re/generation instead.

Generational assumptions and logic permeate most building blocks of our contemporary understanding of phenomena as varied as consumption patterns and climate change. In business and in life, we make sense of phenomena in terms of their cycles, permanence, recurrences and discontinuations. In cohort thinking, these understandings are reinforced – we are influenced by our peers, people who share similar experiences in space and time. 

Generational thinking is everywhere: from the perpetual drive of business to push “the next generation technology” – thus fuelling cultures of obsolescence – to an incessant buzz around how Gen Z drives forward the sustainability transformation of companies, from luxury brands to humble everyday products; from an ever louder critique of boomers being complicit – through overspending and overconsumption – in coming economic and environmental dystopias, to the ubiquity of “digital natives” as the meta-generation of all those who grew up with software as general purpose technology. Regularly operationalized so it can lend itself to marketing segmentation, yet notoriously hard to define, in the great churn that is culture generation becomes a convention and stereotype with broadly adopted yet volatile cultural currency (really, what is the fundamental difference between someone born in the last year of Gen X, and someone born in the first year of Gen Y and will that fundamentally impact their purchasing habits?). 

In popular media, commentators argue the concept must be done away with. Futurists implore us to aspire to be better ancestors. Economists note with alarm the knock-on effect that living with one’s parents until 40, itself oft-blamed on the delinquencies of neoliberal economic systems, is hurting the economy. As more and more people from generations Y and Z are foregoing biological reproduction, or rearranging indeed the terms of creating a family, demographers are at a loss how to predict fertility rates and what to advise on people issues on the fast depleting lower half of population pyramids of OECD countries. This has wide-ranging implications – from what that means in human resources and the meanings of age-appropriate career tracks, to how it changes the patterns of consumption and how that is represented and sold in marketing and advertising. 

What is more, generation is enmeshed with questions of sustainability, circularity, and environment. That we are fast running out of alphabet to designate the generations to come seems to carry with itself some sort of almost appropriate existential nihilism, arguably suited for a world damaged in both planetary and social terms. What will come after Z, given environmental degradation? Threaded through the riff of generation as a condition for life, policy, and business is that of ecology and environment, as evident in growing movements such as “Fridays for the Future” and “Parents for the Future.” It is more and more evident that humans have never been kin only with their own bloodlines within their own species and their historical cohorts, but also with non-human actors and living systems.

Generation (as an index and measure of human capital and social and cultural change, and as a denominator of shared experiences, rather than a simplistic age-based segmentation) and regeneration (as process of circling back and making use of the old in creating the new) –  are about the non-linearity and the more-than-human-centricity of relations.  It’s about the uses of the old in innovation and design, and a fundamental rework of commonly held ideas about the shapes, meanings, and materializations of both innovation and progress. 

Re/generation, then, is about the links and cycles that beg the operationalisation of an expanded notion of kinship and ecosystems; of heritability, consequences and responsibility; of repair and reinvention; and of rehabilitation and sufficiency in the various sectors whose attention it has already attracted – from agriculture, textiles, and tech to finance, architecture, and healthcare. 

This year’s WWNA wants to capture these re/generational entanglements as an inspiration and to join the conversation already underway in these sectors. We want to draw on anthropology’s depth and breadth of theoretical and ethnographic knowledge about relations, kinship, time, capital, and materialities,  and to demonstrate that applying this breadth and depth to various domains has a direct material import and practical impact to business, think tanks, organizations, and ecosystems – in helping solving their problems and in making the world a better place. 

How do stakeholders (communities, businesses, government, activists) currently approach re/generation, and how might an anthropologist usefully intervene? What new knowledge would be created in the process, and what actions and decisions would follow on? In what ways does re/generation offer an opportunity to decolonize our current mindsets and models about kinship, lifecycles and relationships between humans and the environment, and systems of value creation and value exchange? What is the business and social case for that? Even most urgently, how do these conversations play out against the unfolding backdrop on the pandemic and post-pandemic world, from which individuals, businesses, communities, and organizations are emerging? 

The conference will run on three tracks. Below is a non-exhaustive list of questions of interest. Additional takes on the sub-themes of each track are welcome.  

GENERATION

How do we bring anthropological sensibility to questions of building products, services, and infrastructures for generations, and for intergenerational justice? What are the business cases for that, and how do such business models and cases challenge capitalism to change? How does anthropology help bridge generational divides, and through what form, formats, and interventions? What changes in cultural assumptions about age, ageing, and longevity are both present already – and must be championed further – for the creation of inclusive and diverse organizations, business, and generation-sensitive products, services, and technologies? What does heritage mean in this context? How – and what – do we build with generations in mind and together with generations? What new technologies enable this? How does generational thinking affect the way new technologies, services, products, and policies  are developed and deployed?

REGENERATION

How do we help build regenerative cultures, infrastructures, business models, supply chains? How do anthropological concepts, theories, and ethnographic methods lend themselves to regeneration by design, and what does regenerative design mean seen in anthropological lens? From recycling and up-cycling to cradle-to-cradle logics of design and material culture – how does applied anthropology engage with existing understandings about regeneration in various sectors? What is the role of both historical and future thinking in regenerative paradigms?

REGENERATING ANTHROPOLOGY

How do we regenerate our beloved discipline – what is the need for renewal, and what is the need for perhaps even bringing back from the past? How do we build intergenerational kinship in anthropology – between generations which measure anthropology’s worth in reading and writing on the tenure track, and those generations for whom an applied anthropological career will be the call of a lifetime of reading and acting? How do we innovate in anthropology, and how do we regenerate our own methods and theories? How do new technologies – digital and otherwise – open up spaces for anthropology to claim its place at the table from which we have been missing? What does regenerative anthropology look like? 

Against these times of continuous damage and decay, of despair and depletion, on our tenth anniversary at the Applied Anthropology Network’s Why the World Needs Anthropologists one thing is for sure: we choose to be total regenerates. Join us!

Submission deadline: May 31st, 2022

Notification of acceptance: June 7th, 2022

These dates represent a postponement from the original dates