Fieldwork in Philosophy

Short Seminar

October 26–28, 2012

Fieldwork in PhilosophyFieldwork in PhilosophyShort Seminar Chaired by Ann Stoler, Willy Brandt Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies, The New School for Social Research, October 26–28, 2012.Fieldwork in PhilosophyShort Seminar Chaired by Ann Stoler, Willy Brandt Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies, The New School for Social Research, October 26–28, 2012.

Legend has it that when a discipline is in crisis, it invariably turns to philosophy. While such claims tend to contain a grain of truth, the organizers of this short seminar saw the current “philosophical turn” in anthropology very differently—as a move that marks a broader set of emergent realignments in anthropology’s approach to how concepts operate in the world. This engagement is not simply a recruitment of philosophical texts and traditions. Nor is it an instrumental use of philosophy to authorize intellectual stature and empirical claims. Rather, this seminar argued that this new anthropological engagement posed a productive set of challenges to philosophical wisdom, particularly to proprietary claims of philosophy as the privileged domain of concept formation and the site of its authority. At issue was, in part, how analytic agendas are generated, and a re-evaluation of what constitutes the relationship between the empirical and the conceptual domains of intellectual work. Rather than seeing this as a moment of anthropology in crisis, this seminar explored it as a vital, generative moment of possible synergy between the two disciplines. The seminar brought anthropologists and philosophers together to examine how this convergence manifests, why it is happening now, and what its effects are on both fields.

Seminar chair, Ann Stoler, reported, “The workshop was aimed at marking and reflecting upon, rather than overcoming, the differences between anthropology and philosophy. The outcome was a sustained reflection on the state of the "trading zone" between the two fields and an assessment of possible trajectories currently emerging from these exchanges for the respective disciplines.” She continued:

"As the disciplinary landscape of the academy is being transformed in the twenty-first century, both anthropology and philosophy are rethinking their missions. If anthropology aims at reinventing itself as an empirically oriented philosophical discipline, it needs to clarify what this conjuncture demands and what this congruence if not convergence would entail. The workshop was a first step into this direction."

Ann Stoler, Chair Willy Brandt Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies, The New School for Social Research The Quest for “Rough Ground”: Social Inquiry’s Summons to Philosophy
Michel Agier Directeur d’études, Department of Anthropologie, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris A “Cross-eyed” View of Anthropology, Philosophy, and Ethnography
Claudia Baracchi Associate Professor, Università Milano-Bicocca Disclosing: Being Alive and the Works of Truth
Jay M. Bernstein Professor and Chair, Department of Philosophy, New School for Social Research Fieldwork in Philosophy: Social Actuality and Améry’s Transcendental Deduction of Resentment
Barbara Cassin Director of Research, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris A Consistent Relativism? The Translation Turn
Vincent Crapanzano Professor, Departments of Anthropology and Comparative Literature, CUNY Graduate Center, New York From Reference to Irony
Veena Das Professor, Department of Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University
Nicolas Langlitz Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, The New School for Social Research Out of the Armchair: On a Problem Shared by Anthropologists of Science and Philosophers of Mind
Adi Ophir Associate Professor, The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, Tel Aviv A Plea for Fieldwork in Philosophy
Marilyn Strathern Emeritus Professor, Department of Social Anthropology, Cambridge University Concepts and Relations: The Framing of a Need

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