Don’t miss Susan Coutin and Sally Merry’s joint APLA-AES 2013 Presidential Address now published in American Ethnologist:
Science and technology studies can help to unveil invisible modes of power that are embedded in the ways conflicts are known, debated, and resolved. Legal forms of adjudication, reporting systems used by international commissions, and data gathering on the part of governmental and nongovernmental agencies shape how conflicts are fought out on the ground and in policy arenas. Assumptions about evidence, categorization, adjudication, and measurement privilege certain forms of suffering over others, even as they omit phenomena that defy categorization. Using two examples—a global survey of violence against women and a U.S. government initiative to defer the deportation of certain undocumented immigrants—we bring insights from science and technology studies to bear on sociolegal phenomena. In so doing, we highlight tensions between measurement and invention, visibility and invisibility, and objectivity and discretion that are intrinsic to new forms of governance. We thus examine what measurement initiates and precludes, the reactive and proactive nature of technologies, and how new practices reproduce established techniques.
“Mobility, Law & Citizenship” Workshop, by Véronique Fortin, UC Irvine.
On November 21st 2013, a small group of scholars gathered at lunchtime as six graduate students and one faculty member (Gillian G. Tan, Deakin University, Australia) discussed the challenges of working on migration and mobility. The call for participation for this workshop had invited abstracts of research projects seeking to “widen anthropology’s lens on the range of relationships between legal regimes, citizenship, and human mobility.” The diversity of submissions made for an enriching conversation on topics including “brain drain” and the politics of mobility in Serbia; Congolese refugees in Tanzania and mobile international humanitarian organizations; Mexican H-2B-visa holders planting trees on roadways in the US; the encounter between the members of the Los Angeles Mongolian Association (LAMA), and Los Angeles municipal officials; the traffic in women, plants, and gold through different sites along the Interoceanic Road in Brazil, Peru. and Bolivia; and the contrast between the mobility of the demonstrators and the perceived immobility of homeless people, two criminalized populations in urban public spaces in Montreal. The collegial conversation continued beyond the workshop indicating the success of the workshops in creating new networks of dynamic political and legal anthropology scholars.