Welcome to the 4th Conference on Anthropology and Sustainability in Asia (CASA 2017), which is being held Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, September 3-5, 2017 at the Kokusai Hotel in Hiroshima, Japan. All registered participants will be provided with a welcome reception, daily coffee breaks, access to the proceedings and a free, English guided tour of Hiroshima Peace Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This is an international, peer-reviewed event that is being held in partnership with two other small events focusing on perspectives holistic sustainability: The 4th Asian Symposium on Education and Language for Sustainability in Asia (SELSA 2017) and The 2nd International Conference on Psychology for Sustainability in Asia (PSYSUS 2017).
About CASA 2017
Sustainability is a term of recent origin with widespread contemporary saliency. In its popular use, sustainability tends to focus mostly on issues of natural environment. The lens of environmental sustainability raises questions such as:
Can the natural world recover from damage caused by human activity at a rate faster than the damage is done? Is the use of natural resources at a rate that is compatible with their regeneration?
What changes in human practice can lead to long-term availability of necessary natural resources?
With the theme Anthropological Perspectives on Holistic Sustainability, CASA 2017 will explore these and related questions, but in a way that considers sustainability beyond its ecological dimensions. Trends toward broader consideration of sustainability are in place. The World Bank and other governmental and non-governmental organizations have incorporated the concept of social sustainability into their approaches to development. The notion of a “triple bottom line” that considers profit, people and planet has entered the private sector discourse on sustainability. This conference considers the contributions that anthropology can make to expanding the horizons of sustainability.
As is the case with any field of study, application of anthropology brings certain approaches and worldviews to bear on the issue of sustainability. As sustainability finds its way into business practices, development plans, and government policy, the holistic approach is the most important contribution that anthropology has to offer. Holism applied to sustainability demands that we ask not only about environmental impacts but also social, cultural, economic, and political ones. Additionally, holism demands that we examine how components of socio-cultural eco-systems relate to one another systematically.
This conference aims to explore holistic sustainability in the following areas:
- How do varied cultural perspectives have in how we conceptualize the relationship between human beings and the physical world undermine or promote sustainability?
- How can the on-going revitalization of indigenous culture lead to holistic sustainability? What are the challenges of employing traditional knowledge to achieve sustainability?
- How can diverse religious perspectives invest sustainability with enduring significance that motivates long-term commitment?
- Are changes proposed to make sustainable use of natural resources compatible with the worldview of the people expected to change their behavior? Are there ways that such changes can be accommodated by the cultural logic of the people?
- In a globe marked by increasing transnational flows of people, how can kin and community structures that support human well-being be maintained?
- Are changes proposed to make sustainable use of natural resources compatible with the family and community life of people expected to change their behavior? Are there ways that such changes can be accommodated within the flexibility of kin and community structures?
- What do alternative approaches such as food sovereignty have to offer in terms of sustainability? Do people who have control over their own food production use natural resources in a sustainable way?
- What challenges does entrenched and growing wealth inequality present to sustainability?
- What challenges does persistent gender inequality present to sustainability?
- What sorts of inertia and resistance to movement toward sustainability are found in existing political structures and interests?
- What role does robustly inclusive democracy have in sustainability?
- What challenges to sustainability are presented by weak and failed states?
- What is the role of civil society or the third sector in sustainability?
- What role does addressing negative market externalities have in sustainability? If the prices of goods and services include (or internalize) all of their social and environmental costs, will the market solve sustainability challenges?
- What sort of economic incentives promote the continuance of unsustainable practices? How can government and other actors promote material incentives that foster sustainable practices?
- What is the potential for organic food production to generate sustainable livelihoods?
- How well do we understand (and communicate) the costs of continuing unsustainable practices? What trade-offs are presented in shifts toward sustainability?
- What roles do risk avoidance and uncertainty have in unsustainable practices? What are the consequences of asking economically vulnerable people to take on greater risk in the name of sustainability?
Archaeology and Sustainability
- What can archaeological examinations of the human past reveal about sustainability?
- What combinations of political, cultural, social, economic, environmental circumstances generate long-term human presence on the landscape?
- What combinations lead to societal collapse?
- What is the role of language in maintaining affective ties with local landscapes?
- How do language revitalization movements relate to holistic sustainability?
- What relationships exist between endangered languages and unsustainable use of natural resources? unsustainable social structures?
- Language that encodes unique relationships with the land is an important part of many ethnographically-described food production systems. How does language change reflect changes in subsistence strategies?
- How is language stability related to sustainable uses of natural resources? sustainable social structure?
The CASA Conference Team 2017