CfP IKSA Graduate Forum “The many social lives of policy: across different processes and regional contexts”, 27- 29 April 2017, Vienna, Austria, Extended Deadline: March 5

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Call for Papers
March 1, 2017 to March 6, 2017
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Social Sciences, Sociology

CfP IKSA Graduate ForumThe many social lives of policy: across different processes and regional contexts”, 27- 29 April 2017, Vienna, Austria, Extended Deadline: March 5       

Call for Papers

IKSA Graduate Forum

The many social lives of policy: across different processes and regional contexts

Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology (IKSA), University of Vienna

27-29 April 2017, Vienna, Austria

Extended Deadline for Paper Proposals: 5th of March 2017

We are delighted to announce the launching of the IKSA Graduate Forum, in the company of our first distinguished guest scholars, Dr. Zsuzsa GILLE (Associate Professor, Sociology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA), Dr. Shalini RANDERIA (Rector, Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), Vienna and Research Director and Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva) and Dr. Ayse CAGLAR (Professor, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna). Designed as a dialogical exchange between Dr. Zsuza Gille and Dr. Shalini Randeria, and moderated by Dr. Ayse Caglar, the opening public debate will unpack policy as an object of social analysis, and will serve to highlight the methodological challenges as well as the theoretical contributions that the ethnographic study of policy can bring to broader debates in anthropology. This event will be followed by a 2-day workshop during which PhD students and early career scholars will have the opportunity to discuss their work and receive consistent peer-to-peer feedback.


Policy has become a central organizing principle in society. Policies bring actors, institutions, technologies, and discourses into diverse relations across multiple scales. These interactions are reflected in the ethnographic contexts anthropologists investigate. Focusing on, and following policy allows us to link anthropological studies of social transformations in different settings, and opens up new possibilities for comparison. Building on Cris Shore and Susan Wright’s (1997, 2011) seminal work on the Anthropology of Policy, we view policy not as neat, linear, top-down blueprints, but as messy “political processes in which actors, agents, concepts, and technologies interact in different sites“. Moving beyond diagnosis of implementation failures, we are interested in how policies in the fields of urban restructuring, consumption, market liberalization, and nation-building are worked out and negotiated among diverse actors, ranging from governments, companies, non-governmental organisations, public agencies and international bodies to street level bureaucrats and citizens. How do these actors, by doing policy, redraw boundaries, construct subjects, shape social relations, and produce or challenge political legitimacy? Which changes in forms of governance can we witness since Shore and Wright’s diagnoses of a shift from ‘social democratic’ welfare systems to ‘neo-liberal’ forms of governmentality?


Specifically we want to explore these questions through the following issues:


  • How are policies and citizenship negotiated in material practices?
  • How are urban planning policies formulated, altered, legitimated and contested?
  • How is everyday life affected by contemporary market dynamics?
  • Which forms of identities are produced through policies and policy implementations? What does it entail to be a marginalized group in a particular nation-state setting?


These four specific topics are addressed in panels of their own. Panels are chaired by IKSA PhD-students, and consist of pre-circulated papers, and peer-to-peer feedback. We welcome applications from PhD students and/or early postdoc researchers. Abstracts should be no longer than 250 words and include the name of the author and contact details. After acceptance, contributors are expected to provide a pre-circulated paper no longer than 5,000 words. Participants are expected to read all papers. The presentations of the papers will be followed by peer-to-peer feedback. There will also be room for a lively discussion by all.

Please submit your abstract and indicate your preferred panel no later than 5 March 2017 to



For accepted participants who are unable to fully fund their stay in Vienna, the IKSA Graduate Forum will provide partial and/or full travel grants to students traveling from within Europe. Grants will be awarded on a case-by-case basis.




Panel I:  Policies of consumption – constructing and enacting citizenhood

Conveners: Volha Biziukova, Christof Lammer


Anthropological study of policies and politics of consumption opens a new vantage point to investigate the relations between citizens and a state are constructed, enacted and imagined. Particularly, this topic has acquired salience for the regions that underwent a radical transformation of their socio-economic and political systems (newly industrialized countries, post-socialist countries). The latter was accompanied by changes in the class structure, new rural–urban divisions and introduction of new modes of governance. We understand these policies broadly to include diverse types of institutionalized and non-institutionalized regulations that concern the production, consumption and distribution of varied goods. Relations of consumption bring together actors at different levels. They provide the medium within which different groups and institutions relate to each other, negotiate and shift boundaries, and exercise power in a concrete historical conjunction. These processes are played out by way of constructing and engaging with diverse images and representations of the ‘state’, ‘citizen’, ‘consumer’, and ‘producer’; they are also informed with with discourses on moralities of consumption and production. We welcome papers from PhD students that engage with the question of how policies and citizenship are negotiated in material practices. Being interested in how policies of consumption operate within different contexts, we look at different regional settings and actors enacting these policies on the ground, such as citizens/consumers, NGO or bureaucrats. Through this specific lens we seek to gain insights into how state policies and enactments of citizenship mutually shape each other.


Panel II: Who make policies? Agencies of Urban Development Projects and Promises of “Participation”

Convener: Cansu Civelek


In recent years scholars from a variety of disciplines, including social anthropology, have begun to examine questions relating to the making and circulation of urban policies and the strategies through which they are implemented. There has been a growing interest in anthropology which investigates agencies and purposes of policy worlds, political contestations over conflicting interests, and processes of policy implementation. Moreover, during policy making process of urban projects, there have been increasing claims and promises of “participatory” planning which often fail to meet their initial promises and expectations of local people. This panel aims, first, to discuss about how urban projects are defined, come to agenda, and shaped, second, to understand agencies of policy formulations and legitimizations of the necessities of such projects, and third, to see how participatory decision making and planning assertions are situated during the entire process. The panel is interested in understanding how local communities read, encounter, and navigate urban development projects and define participation. The panel welcomes ethnographic contributions that investigate perceptions, engagements, interests, and spaces of actions, reactions, and oppositions of locals whose lives will be depended on urban development projects while addressing local histories and political traditions within which such projects and policies are developed.



Panel III: Free Markets and Unfree Households: what’s left of neoliberalism?

Conveners: Alexandra Sindrestean, Andreas Streinzer


Since the end of the Cold War - presumably the end of history as well - a growing body of anthropological research has focused on the destabilizing effects of markets' liberalization in diverse settings. Many of the social processes analyzed (deindustrialization, offshoring, work flexibilization, outsourcing, the expansion of consumer credit, social welfare cuts, securitization, the enterprising self, the withdrawal of the state) were understood to be specific outcomes of neoliberal policies. The recent, ongoing financial crisis, however, has seen a turning point in anthropological thinking with scholars expressing growing dissatisfaction in relation to the analytical usefulness of neoliberalism. As a way to explore broader social phenomena and dynamics, the very same crisis has spurred a renewed interest in the everyday economic lives of households, at times moving beyond the framework of neoliberalization. Is it high time for a conceptual clean up? Can we un-think neoliberalism by not calling its name? Does neoliberalism make (no)sense anymore? By conjoining the two topics – households and free markets - this panel seeks to explore the possibility of new conceptual paths which challenge our current understanding of neoliberal policies and what it means to get by at this particular historical conjuncture, in order to work out a refined understanding of conditions of structuration and their articulation on the ground, in specific locales. We welcome papers, which are grounded in ethnographic and historical material, and which investigate these questions in connection with examples from what is broadly understood as the global south.



Panel IV: Rethinking policy in nation-building processes

Conveners: Susanna Gartler, Melanie Sindelar


The aim of this panel is to highlight how nation-building processes in various political systems can be understood through examining the impact that policies have on subject-formation. Policy-making is a core activity in nation-building projects, whether done by state bureaucrats or local communities. In this panel, we encourage contributions dealing with smaller scales, where various actors create and engage with specific policies that impact them. In particular, we are interested in the role of policies in the context of struggles of identity formation, where nation building and its relation to cultural and natural heritage become exposed. Several points are of particular interest: First, policy makers in different political systems either feel no need or cannot disguise political intentions, as sometimes policies are drafted in a joint effort between all stakeholders. We therefore welcome challenges to the idea that policy-makers aim to hide political intentions and conflicts emerging through the interplay of economic liberalism and state protectionism. Second, we are interested in the unfolding of policies in events where subject-formation is either the objective or an unexpected consequence of policy implementations.  Lastly, from a methodological perspective, we are interested in contributions that discuss how an anthropology of policy can work if access to policy documents and policy makers proves difficult.



Contact Info: 

Alexandra Sindrestean, IKSA Organizing Committee, Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna