Political Anthropology in Public: Thick Description in 1500 words or less

Natasha Zaretzky’s contribution to the APLA Anthropology News column is out, check it here!http://www.anthropology-news.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Diana-y-Natasha-26-05-03.jpeg

Natasha Zaretsky, left, with a research participant in 2003. This photo was taken in Plaza Lavalle, Buenos Aires, where the social movement Memoria Activa held weekly protests in front of Argentina’s High Court. Photo courtesy Natasha Zaretsky

Presidential Address Now Published!

spring conference 2013

Don’t miss Susan Coutin and Sally Merry’s joint APLA-AES 2013 Presidential Address now published in American Ethnologist:

Technologies of truth in the anthropology of conflict


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.