CfP for AAA 2020 -- "Relations of possibility: More-than-human arrangements and the politics of care"

Gabriela Morales's picture

Dear colleagues,


Please see attached the following CFP for our panel on “Relations of Possibility” at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, November 18 - 22, 2020, in St. Louis, MO. If interested, please send an abstract of no more than 250 words to both and no later than March 20.


Panel Title: Relations of possibility: More-than-human arrangements and the politics of care

Organizers: Sayd Randle (University of Southern California) and Gabriela Morales (Scripps College)

Discussant: Juno Salazar Parreñas (Ohio State University)


How might more-than-human arrangements of care enact counter-hegemonic, reparative, or novel forms of relation? Approaching such configurations as potentially radical projects of world-remaking, this panel seeks ethnographic case studies that explore the possibilities for life otherwise emerging through diverse practices of care. We understand care to be the material, bodily, and relational work of providing for other beings and entities (Mol 2008). As anthropologists have noted, projects of care can bolster systems of domination, depoliticize structural inequalities, and enact ongoing violence (cf. Stevenson 2014; Ticktin 2011). Yet care can also take on resistive forms, becoming a form of “experimentation in how to relate to others” (Parreñas 2018: 7) that enables possibilities for disruption or transformation. We seek to foreground care practices that create or sustain competing logics, instead of (or in addition to) furthering established forms of colonial, biopolitical, and/or economic domination. 


We take as a central premise that beings are always entangled in one another's existence. Humans live in co-constitutive webs of relation with a wide range of other entities, material and immaterial (cf. Todd 2017). Care is a central site for enacting obligations with and toward others, including in ways that open up space for vulnerability, repair, mutuality, and other modes of “living as well as possible” in troubled times (Haraway 2016; Parreñas 2018; Povinelli 2016; Puig de la Bellacasa 2017; TallBear 2019). As such, we suggest that care is one possible means for crafting shared responsibility, in ways that may exceed dominant political and economic imperatives. The analytic of care, importantly, makes room for the processual and contingent labor of world-making. Acknowledging critiques that some approaches to ontology have been apolitical, essentializing, or appropriative (Bessire and Bond 2014; Todd 2016), we see care as central to understanding how life otherwise is continually made through the uneven relational work of tinkering, attunement, and adjustment with others. While not operating entirely outside systems of power, caring practices may offer contingent possibilities for relations that are “off-kilter, even illegible” (Matza 2018: 25) to dominant norms. Care, as such, has political potential (Puig de la Bellacasa 2017). It is a site for actually existing as well as future possibilities for living with and living well. 


We invite submissions that consider topics including but not limited to:


  • Practices of kin-making, mutuality, and/or obligation across species 
  • Practices of collective human and non-human caring labor within ecological systems (cf Besky and Blanchette 2019)
  • Caring engagements with material objects, technologies, and/or animate matter
  • Caring relations with seemingly immaterial actors (e.g., ghosts, gods, spirits) that shape possibilities for world-building
  • Indigenous activism and ethical practices of “being in good relation” (TallBear 2019: 25) as challenging colonial and Eurocentric hierarchies of life


We see the topic of care’s transformative potential as bridging multiple sub-disciplines and approaches. We encourage submissions from fields including but not limited to: environmental anthropology, medical anthropology, the anthropology of ethics, disability studies, Native American and Indigenous studies, and/or science and technology studies. We are especially interested in works that consider overlaps between care for the body and care for the environment -- or possibly, challenge this distinction.





Besky, Sarah and Alex Blanchette, eds. 2019. How nature works: Rethinking labor on a troubled planet. Santa Fe, NM: School for Advanced Research Press.

Bessire, Lucas, and David Bond. 2014. Ontological anthropology and the deferral of critique. American Ethnologist, 41(3): 440–456.

Haraway, Donna. 2016. Staying with the trouble: Making kin in the Chthulucene. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Matza, Tomas. 2018. Shock Therapy: Psychology, Precarity, and Well-being in Postsocialist Russia. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Mol, Annemarie. 2008. The logic of care: Health and the problem of patient choice. London, UK: Routledge.

Povinelli, Elizabeth. 2016. Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Puig de la Bellacasa, Maria. 2017. Matters of care: Speculative ethics in more than human worlds. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Parreñas, Juno Salazar. 2018. Decolonizing extinction: The work of care in Orangutan rehabilitation. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Stevenson, Lisa. 2014. Life Beside Itself : Imagining Care in the Canadian Arctic. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.

TallBear, Kim. 2019. Caretaking Relations, Not American Dreaming. Kalfou 6(1).

Ticktin, Miriam. 2011. Casualties of Care: Immigration and the Politics of Humanitarianism in France. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Todd, Zoe. 2016. An Indigenous Feminist’s Take on the Ontological Turn: ‘Ontology’ Is Just Another Word For Colonialism. Journal of Historical Sociology 29(1): 4–22.

-----------    2017. Fish, Kin and Hope: Tending to Water Violations in Amiskwaciwâskahikan and Treaty Six Territory. Afterall: A Journal of Art, Context and Enquiry 43(1): 102–107.