About Us




Anthropology of Global Issues



International Symposium organized by WCAA-ASA-IAS
& Indian Anthropological Association & Department of Anthropology, University of Delhi.
From 1 April to 3 April 2020

at Conference Centre, University Delhi-110007, India.


Call for Papers ( Last Date : 10th February, 2012)

Anthropologists' continued engagement with micro-macro interface, in its efforts to emerge as a generalizing science of human experiences, has instilled the required skills among its practitioners to deal with emerging questions that contemporary societies encounter in globalizing era. Recent advances in information technology creating a kind of viable world communication network has led to the creation of ' world community of anthropologists' engaged in a critical reflections and creative sharing on issues that convey greater meaning in cross cultural perspectives. Though envisioning a strong and vibrant ' global anthropology ' might not appear to be free from hegemonic influence over global south and therefore becomes problematic, negotiations are already underway towards a creative synthesis of insights from regional and national anthropologies for a potential world platform which is not far from reality. This becomes more significant in term of changing power equations globally where the North-South divide is getting increasingly obliterated.

Globalization offers fresh challenges for humanity across race, ethnicity, cultures, regions, and nations. New forces of economy, technology, polity and market have brought human destiny to a crossroad. Climate change, food insecurity, water scarcities, natural disasters, war, ethnic strife and violence, terrorism, tourism, migration and population displacement are phenomena of serious concern that need to be addressed from perspectives that offer comparative and critical understanding of views from within and the indigenous strategies to cope up within broader contexts. Conventional concepts of anthropology like culture, society, community and boundaries stand decosntructed and fresh theoretical debates need to be negotiated across academic tables, to look for a future anthropology of new discourses.

WCAA with its wide membership from different corners of the world has made the first step in this regard. Needless to mention that the collective voice of the world council has further strengthened the regional or lesser known concerns thereby creating a space for the marginal and often unheard academic and political initiatives for enriching and empowering the discipline. The Symposium proposes to engage in a cross -cultural debate on emergent global Issues informed through local ethnographies, informed by all branches of anthropology but also going beyond the disciplinary boundaries to reach out to the insights that civil society engagements with policy and practice offer in different national traditions.

IAS & IAA also seek panel proposals from Indian Scholars till 10 February 2020 in All Branches of Anthropology revolving around the symposium theme (with an abstract of 300 words).
Contact Person: Soumendra Mohan Patnaik
President, Indian Anthropological Association
Department of Anthropology,University of Delhi,India
Emails:  | copy marked to:
Please indicate to which panel you are submitting your paper, choosing one of the panels below. If none of the panels matches your research interests, you can also submit a paper on the overall theme of the symposium (as above).

Please send the Title of the paper along with an abstract of 250 words latest by
10 February 2020
to with a copy marked to:




Individual Panels within the WCAA Symposium

1)  Anthropology and Public Policy: Critical Perspectives and Productive
     Interventions Chair: Greg Acciaioli

Anthropologists regularly provide advice to government agencies on a wide range of policies, including policy planning, development, and evaluation (e.g. Strang 2009). Such advice can benefit the people affected by the policies concerned. At the same time, the potential for complicity and a misuse of anthropological knowledge has also sparked much critical debate within the discipline The role of anthropologists has been subjected to intense scrutiny, for example, in cases of resettlement (e.g. transmigration in Indonesia and elsewhere), military campaigns (e.g. Project Camelot, Project Minerva, etc.), and interventions with Indigenous populations This panel seeks to stimulate debate on anthropological entanglements with public policy in a range of local, national and international contexts. Papers may present case studies within the context of national traditions of anthropological practice, examine the role of anthropology in evaluating the impacts of international conventions, protocols and treaties in particular national contexts, explore the uses made of anthropological theories in the formulation of national, regional and international policies, as well as other related issues. It is hoped that this panel will contribute to a greater awareness of the role that anthropology can play not only in critically evaluating various policies, but also in promoting more insightful integration of anthropological perspectives in policy formulation and implementation in local, national, and transnational contexts.

Strang, Veronica 2009 What Anthropologists Do. Oxford and New York: Berg.


2)  Anthropology, Development and the Shaping of Globalization
    Chair: Thomas Reuter

The persistent uneasy relationship between anthropology and development reflects the awkward positioning of the discipline -- between advocating for the right to self-determination of people in developing countries or remote areas targeted for capitalist development, and satisfying the vested interests of the agencies or corporations who employ development anthropologists. This problematic situation is dynamic and changing but it is not new, considering the now well-publicized historical legacy of complicity of anthropologists in colonization, warfare and other forms of imperialist intervention in the affairs of other peoples and nations. On the other hand, some of the social risks of the development process may be mitigated or averted by the critical application of anthropological knowledge to specific development policies and projects, to the sector as a whole, or indeed, to the entire process of development-driven globalization. This panel provides an opportunity to theorize development anthropology and the anthropology of development further, towards a clearer vision of the kind of alternative and inclusive globalization anthropologist may be willing to support. Participants may also wish to discuss particular cases that either illustrate "best practice" or exemplify a contemporary form of malpractice in development anthropology.


3)  Engaged Anthropology from a Global Perspective: Promise and Problems
     Chair: Setha Low

As a discipline, anthropology has increased its public visibility in recent years with its growing focus on engagement. The call for engagement has elicited responses in all sub-fields of anthropology around the world and most notably in nations outside of the hegemony of US and UK academic tradition, and particularly in the Global South. Nonetheless, despite the fact that engaged anthropology is the center piece of anthropology in Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia, there has not been an examination of its practice, an analysis of how the academic and engaged work together, much less the recognition of the importance of the integration of academic and applied practice in most of the world. This session will begin a discussion of the global configuration of engagement and will attempt to understand the different ways in which engaged anthropology works in various global contexts. The session will focus on engaged anthropology and the dilemmas it raises among these different national and transnational forms of practicing anthropology.

Previous work by Low and Merry (2010) on engaged anthropology in the US distinguished a number of forms of engagement:
1) sharing and support,
2) teaching and community outreach,
3) social critique,
4) collaboration,
5) advocacy and
6) activism.
Their analysis suggests that engagement takes place during fieldwork, through applied practice, in institutions, and as individual activists work in the context of war, terrorism, environmental injustice, human rights, and violence. This framework may or may not be adequate to begin to understand engagement globally, but will be used to start the conversation. Members of the WCAA are invited to present materials on how engagement proceeds in their associations, and the kinds of problems and conflicts that are generated nationally, globally or academically by this engagement. It is hoped that through this session, we will begin to outline a global understanding of engagement as part of a world anthropologies future.


4)  The growing power of IRBs and the issue of ethics for anthropology
     worldwide Chair Andrew ‘Mugsy’ Spiegel

The establishment, especially in universities and research institutions in the global north, of what are often described as institutional review boards (IRBs), has increasingly forced anthropologists to reconsider the ethical constraints on their own and their students’ work. That is especially the case where funding, especially from agencies in the global north, comes with requirements that all proposals for research ‘involving human subjects’ have to be cleared through a formally constituted ethical review process. In some academic institutions, medical and legal researchers and administrators have become the driving force behind those processes, and they have tended to come to dominate institution wide ethics review committees (IRBs) and to impose unrealistic demands on socio-cultural researchers. In part this derives from their unfamiliarity with the processes of participant observation and participatory research; in part from institutional inability to distinguish ethics from legal liability.

This panel seeks to provide opportunities for anthropologists from diverse settings around the world to document the kinds of experiences they and their students have had in negotiating the hurdles of such IRB audits of their research proposals and the challenges they have faced in attempting to address the ever tighter grip that such IRBs are imposing, both in proposal preparation and in undertaking research itself. An aspirational goal of the panel is to be able to begin to develop guidelines for ethical research practice that are able to accommodate the realities of the open-ended kinds of research that constitute so much of anthropology’s established, and tried and tested, methods.


5)  Building a Network of Anthropologists Without Borders - ASF (Antropólogos 
    Sem fronteiras/ Antropólogos Sin Fronteras/ Anthropologues
    Sans Frontières/ Anthropologists Without Borders)
    Chairs: Virginia F. Dominguez and Carlos Caroso

In August 2010, the World Council of Anthropological Associations (the WCAA) began a serious discussion about establishing an action group named ASF (which stands for Antropólogos Sem Fronteiras, in Portuguese, Antropólogos Sin Fronteras in Spanish, Anthropologues Sans Frontiers in French, and Anthropologists Without Borders in English). The WCAA Task Force involves anthropologists from countries around the world and different areas of expertise. Much like other borderless (or border-crossing) professional action groups, the aim of ASF is to establish a non-profit organization and global network of anthropologists, drawing on knowledge and experience acquired by anthropologists around the world and connecting groups that seek the expertise of specialist anthropologists able to serve as critical readers, examiners, and reviewers of reports and documents about which they (the non-anthropologists approaching ASF) may have substantial doubt.

In line with contemporary positions advocating engaged and action anthropology, the intention on this panel is to stimulate discussion of views about such an organization and the ways it may become an important tool in bringing information about anthropology to others, including about anthropology's role in understanding people and collaborating in (possibly) solving various sorts of social conflict, especially those related to sociocultural differences, differences of gender, ethnicity, and ways of life, among many others.

The panel calls for papers and presentations that discuss how the basic methods and field study strategies of academic anthropology (extended fieldwork, participant observation, and collaborative research) could contribute to this project and the views that underlie it.
These papers and presentations could address
(1) how (and whether) it is possible to foster deep-seated connections between practicing anthropologists and those among (and alongside whom) they conduct research, and
(2) how this experience could contribute to establishing ASF as a worldwide network that may be called upon to share their views and expertise in dealing with situations entailing risk and vulnerability, including social, cultural, environmental, and health cases.

Registration Window will open soon with further details (on the website)