CFP: Apples and Oranges

Call for Papers:

Apples and Oranges: Practicing Comparison

Three day workshop, 13-15 September 2012, Goldsmiths, University of London

Deadline for abstracts: April 20th 2012

Qualitative social science has become uneasy about comparing: it is easily frightened by both accusations from within quantitative traditions that assert the inability of its methods to control variables precisely enough and a colonial past in which cultural comparisons had a dubious taint of racism. However, despite being a loaded term, comparisons are nonetheless routine within qualitative social science, although they are often more implicit than explicit. We perform them in conferences where we group in thematically similar panels, in more or less strident academic debates, as well as in our everyday practices as a way to understand and contextualise our own research. However, we observe that this seemingly comparative practice is rarely named as such. Further, we also suspect – while being
acutely aware of the problematic history of comparison as a social scientific activity, whether in the service of forms of reductive positivism or a hierarchy of cultures – that this history does not explain the degree of ongoing sensitivities about the value of naming certain research as comparative. More directly, we suggest that abstaining from explicit comparisons unnecessarily constrains qualitative research.

This conference seeks responses to this problematic. Questions we are interested in exploring include – but are not limited to – the following:

. Accounts of Comparative Practices: What are the difficulties of (collaborative) comparative projects? How do projects deal with cases
that refuse comparison, with fields that loose their comparative features and with theoretical concepts that fail to help to compare?
. Comparison policing: how is (non)comparative practice enacted and policed across academic life and in different disciplines?
. Strange comparisons: What is a ‘strange’ comparison? What is a ‘proper’ comparison?
. Incomparability/Failed comparisons: what are the limits to comparison? How are these limits performed? According to which modes of expertise?
. Comparison and value: Is comparison a technology of commensuration? What is lost? What is gained?
. Comparison and temporality: what kinds of comparisons are ‘restudies’? To what extent do comparisons across time equate to comparisons across space?
. Comparison, method and theory: how should theory inform comparative practice? At what point? Might experimental methodologies generate new registers for comparison?
. Beyond comparison: which other terms and frameworks can be used to describe the value of comparative practices? Which alternatives can be proposed to the strength and authority of certain ways of doing comparison in academic discourses and beyond?

We are keen to encourage interdisciplinary engagement around these questions, and welcome submissions from those working within anthropology, cultural studies, geography, Science and Technology Studies, sociology, and other related disciplines. We also encourage submissions that look at the practices of comparisons of actual, ongoing projects. This might be, for example, projects which struggle with making their objects comparable, or which test standard ideas about and objects of comparison, or collaborative projects dealing with the practice of comparison. Our focus in this event is less on theoretical or historical contributions and more on the way we perform comparisons in our everyday practice.

Abstracts of around 300-500 words should be sent to by April 20th 2012.

Successful submissions, potentially drawing on participants’ own experiences, will be expected to circulate a short (1,000 – 3,000 words)
response to the problematics sketched above by August 31st . These will be circulated around conference participants in advance of the event, with the aim of stimulating richer, more productive dialogue. These need not be fully fleshed out academic papers, but can be looser responses to the problematic of comparison. We also invite contributors to suggest other formats as they prefer that either perform comparison or allow for specific insights into the issue of comparison.

There is a small amount of funding available for those without funding for travel and accommodation. Please indicate on your application if and how much funding you would need.

The conference is organised by the ERC-funded research projects “Organizing Disaster” (Michael Guggenheim, Zuzana Hrdlickova, Joe Deville) at the Department of Sociology/CSISP and “Gambling in Europe” (Rebecca Cassidy, Claire Loussouarn, Andrea Pisac) at the Department of Anthropology, both at the Goldsmiths, University of London.

Dr. Claire Loussouarn
Anthropology Department
Goldsmiths, University of London

Amity among people…

“The noble and elevating search for amity among people seen as amity between civilizations speedily reduces many-sided human beings into one dimension each and muzzles the variety of involvements that have provided rich and diverse grounds for cross-border interactions over many centuries, including the arts, literature, science, mathematics, games, trade, politics, and other arenas of share human interest”.

Amartya Sen (2006: 12)

Book series: Post-intercultural Communication and Education

New Book Series, Series Editor: Prof. Fred Dervin, Department of Teacher Education, University of Helsinki, Finland

Post-Intercultural Communication and Education (Cambridge Scholars)

This book series, eclectic in scope, seeks to extend and revitalize scholarship on intercultural communication and education by publishing innovative, interdisciplinary and critical analyses of intercultural encounters. “Post-intercultural” refers to a recent paradigm shift in the way the ‘intercultural’ is conceptualized and researched, which lays more emphasis on the ‘inter-‘ and plural identities rather than on the ‘-cultural’ when dealing with questions of migration, glocalization, digitalization, and Otherness. The primary objective of the series is to challenge e.g. differentialism, culturism and neocolonialism in research on the ‘intercultural’. The series encourages the exploration of new and creative research methods that move beyond methodological nationalism and imaginaries. The series publishes high-quality single-authored or edited volumes.

The published volumes will appeal to an international readership interested in new insights into interculturality: practitioners (teachers/consultants), policy makers, scholars, and advanced students.

Topics (amongst others):

–       Research methods and the ‘intercultural’

–       Identity and the ‘intercultural’

–       Language and the ‘intercultural’

–       Social justice and the ‘intercultural’

–       Intercultural competence

–       Immigration, mobility and expatriation

–       The ‘intercultural’ online

–       Business and the ‘intercultural’

–       Political discourses on the ‘intercultural’

–       The ‘intercultural’ in the media and art

–       Worldviews/religion and the ‘intercultural’

–       Gender and the ‘intercultural’


Please submit the following if you are proposing a new book:

*Introduction for, and summary of, the work. We recommend that this be no longer than 1,000-1,500 words, but are happy to receive longer introductions and summaries where you judge this to be appropriate.

*A sample chapter. In the case of collections of essays where it is not possible to provide an introduction, or where a sample chapter is not yet available, some other published works of medium-sized article-length should be submitted. This work should, if at all possible, be on the same subject as the proposed book.

*A survey of other works in the field which might compete with the proposed one, and a brief argument demonstrating why the proposed work will, despite competition, be of value to libraries and scholars.

*A survey of the market for the book. Who will read it, and why they will want to buy it.

*The approximate length of the book, including all end-matter such as appendixes, bibliographies, and indexes. The number of photographs that are required.

*A CV for each author or volume editor

Send your book proposal to

New Publication: Anthropology & Interculturality

Anthropology, Interculturality and Language Learning-Teaching

How compatible are they?

Fred Dervin / Béatrice Fracchiolla (eds.).

Series: Transversales – Volume 32, Peter Lang

Year of Publication: 2012

Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2012. VI, 207 p., 2 ill., 2 tabl.
ISBN 978-3-0343-1118-2 br.

The seemingly ‘natural’ link between anthropology and interculturality is not self-explanatory. For this reason, this book aims to review the use of various forms and understandings of anthropology in language and intercultural education. First of all, it is necessary on the one hand to clarify the notion of interculturality, and on the other hand, to position oneself in the complex and multifaceted field of anthropology. While some authors in the volume describe how they initiate anthropological practices in the language classroom, others explain how they apply theories, concepts and methods from anthropology to research learning and teaching. The volume will be of great value to (novice) researchers, teachers and anthropologists interested in the relationship between anthropology and language and intercultural education.

New book! “Intercultural Hoaxes”

Dervin, F. 2012. Impostures Interculturelles. Paris: L’Harmattan

ISBN : 978-2-296-56635-4

This new book in French looks at how the notion of the intercultural is used and constructed in “official” contexts (education, politics and research). Based on the analysis of various documents, it highlights the dangers of using the notion in a loose and uncritical manner. The author also proposes an ethical approach to the intercultural in the contexts under scrutiny. An English version of the book will be available in 2012.