I am co-organizing a panel with Gde Metera from Northwestern University for the upcoming 7th International Symposium of Journal Antropologi Indonesia at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta in July this year. So far we have five panelists, including Gde and myself, but we welcome more submissions from interested panelists. More info on the panel and the submission process can be found here. I copy the panel abstract here for your reference:
“Beyond Disciplinary Diversity and Debates in Parallel Universes: Anthropology and Political Science in Conversation”
An enduring critique of the phenomenon of disciplinary diversity, nay fragmentation, in social sciences and humanities is one regarding the lack of conversation across the boards. Disciplinary boundaries render disciplines at times impervious to interdisciplinary borrowings and innovations. This situation severely hampers accumulation of knowledge and often led scholars into “debates in parallel universes” (Robison 2016). Anthropology and Political Science are no exception: tension exists between these disciplines resulting in, for instances, marginalization of ethnographic method within political scientists’ methodological toolkit (Bayard de Volo & Schatz 2004, but see Laitin 1998) as well as uneasiness on the part of anthropologists regarding social science’s claim on causal inference and its generalizability. And yet there always seem to be leading maverick scholars in Anthropology and Political Science successfully breaking disciplinary straitjacket to produce exemplary works cherished in both disciplines. To mention a few, some leading anthropologists have interrogated the state (Gupta 2012), explored the practice of governmentality (Li 2007), traced democratic transition (Hefner 2000), or charted the topography of globalization (Appadurai 1996, Tsing 2005).
Similarly, there are also political scientists utilizing ethnographic method to study peasant resistance (Scott 1979, 1985, 1990), understand the poetics of power (Weeden 1999), or claim meaning embedded in commodities as a causal factor driving mobilization (Simmons 2016; Wood 2003), all the while generally claiming how meaning-making can be a powerful independent variable. In addition, a methodological literature on how to wed Anthropology and Political Science as disciplinary practices or how to craft causal inference using ethnography begin to emerge (Aronoff & Kubik 2013, Aronoff 2006, Katz 2001, 2002, Schatz 2009). Thus, this panel aims at starting a conversation between political scientists and anthropologists working on Indonesia taking stock of issues pertaining to possible interdisciplinary engagements. The set of questions to be explored includes but is not exclusively limited to the following: (i) What are the objections regarding disciplinary practices from both disciplines that could possibly hamper mutual interdisciplinary engagements? (ii) What are the most fruitful areas of conceptual, theoretical, and methodological intersections between the two disciplines that inform practitioners and benefit their research? (iii) Are there examples of current works from actual practitioners—political ethnographers or political scientists drawing from ethnographic methodological toolkit—conducting research from which we can draw lessons regarding challenges and possibilities?
Our panel invites papers that explore questions and concerns above. We also welcome papers presenting results of studies utilizing conceptual, theoretical, and/or methodological innovations borrowed from both Political Science and Anthropology.