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Conference Information

Conference date: 

  • 16-18 August 2017

Final programme:

  • 31 July 2017

Preliminary programme:

  • 15 June 2017  

Notification of acceptance:

  • 7 June 2017 

EXTENDED Deadline for submission of paper abstracts:

  • 28 April 2017  

Call for papers:

  • 1 February 2017 

Deadline for panel submissions:

  • 15 January 2017 


About the seminar

Anthropology has for many years been occupied with themes and concepts addressing (first) continuity and (later) change. Early disciplinary paradigms of cultural and structural continuity, stability, equilibrium etc. gave way, over the decades, to analyses of social change, instability, disruptions, inventions and mobility. Change is still central in much recent thinking and theory – e.g. on ‘emergence’, ‘becoming’ and ‘potentiality’ – employed to understand the human condition as a dynamic, shifting and often precarious one.

The MEGA seminar 2017 asks what happens if we bracket becomings, emergences and hopes for a while, to focus instead on “the end”. We wish to ponder and explore different kinds of endings, finitude, conclusion; the power of that which is set to be no more. This focus can be used not only to rethink the articulation between continuity and change, but also be fruitfully utilized to review a wide variety of empirical and theoretical concepts and phenomena. After all, everything has to end. Lives are finite; buildings collapse; communities are broken. Even statues, made to last, eventually tumble. Francis Fukuyama, famously, posited the end of history. Others foresaw the end of politics, of reason, or of the nation. Importantly, finitude is not invariably tragic but can also be productive, necessary, or striven for. Discussing whether the end of something is presented as a goal, as a doomsday scenario to be avoided, as realistic or illusory, as necessary or superfluous, as a cultural or natural process, may shed new light on a wide array of classical anthropological themes ranging from cultural classification to political struggle.

What does it mean that something ends? How is the end identified? Wherein lies its power? What ontological status do things, institutions, lives have when they end? How can we know, and how can we explore something that has ended? Is a beginning the opposite of an end? Or is an end just another word for a new beginning? And what comes next?

Keynote Speakers

The three keynotes will be delivered by:

Elizabeth Povinelli

Columbia University

Elizabeth Povinelli has focused on developing a critical theory of late liberalism, that would support an anthropology of the otherwise. Her most recent book, Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism from 2016 seeks to retheorize power, describing a mode of power called geontopower, examining this formation of power from the perspective of Indigenous Australian maneuvers against the settler state. She has also recently made three films with the Karrabing Film Collective, unfolding her work from within a sustained relationship with Indigenous colleagues in north Australia.

Douglas Holmes

Binghamton University – the State University of New York 

Douglas Holmes has studied both extreme right-wing movements in Europe and recently financial institutions, among them Central Banks: The European Central Bank, the Bundesbank, the Swedish Central Bank, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and the Bank of England and has co-authored several articles with George Marcus, among them articles about collaboration and reimagining the scene of the field-work encounter.

Diane Nelson

Duke University

Diane Nelson has done extensive fieldwork in Latin America, particularly in Guatemala, her research among other issues focusing on the causes and effects of genocidal violence, the destruction and reconstruction of village life, drawing on popular culture and theories of political economy, ethnic, national, gender, and sexual identifications, and more. She has recently been focusing on laboratory and clinical research on vector and blood-borne diseases like malaria and dengue and the intersection of this knowledge production with health care in the midst of neo-liberal reforms and popular demands.

Contact Information

Organizing Committee