Arts and aesthetics in a globalising world
3rd-6th April 2012, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
Every five years or so, the Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth (ASA) tries to hold its annual conference outside the UK, in a Commonwealth country. The aim is to widen the possiblities for participation by Commonwealth colleagues. The ASA is happy to announce that it will hold its 2012 conference in India for the first time. The ASA is happily working together with colleagues at the Centre for the Study of Social Systems in the School of Social Sciences, and the School of Arts and Aesthetics, at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi. The conference aims to attract approximately 200 delegates with its plenary stream and parallel panel sessions, with colleagues coming from all over the world, but particularly from across India and South Asia. We extend a warm invitation to Indian colleagues through JNU's good connections beyond the capital, and through the various learned societies, including the Indian Anthropological Association (IAA), and the Indian Anthropological Society (IAS).
This conference will investigate art and aesthetics in their widest senses and experiences, from a variety of perspectives and in numerous contexts: the material arts, crafts, performance, bodies, digital and new media, metaphysics, and other related themes. Moving beyond art as expressions of the inner mind and inventions of the individual self, the conference will bridge the gap between changing perceptions of contemporary art and aesthetics, and map the impact of globalisation on the creation and movement of artworks, people's changing perceptions of the medium, the shifting skills of artists, the relationship between the arts and declining ecological factors, art and new religions, and so forth.
A globalised ethic presumes that ‘we’ are all connected to one another, but more often than not, the ‘we’ comprises the fraternity of the elite in any country. The conference tries to move away from debates centred around the concerns of powerful elites and to engage in more diverse conversations with vernacular practices. This is particularly significant given the ‘aesthetic turn’ in sociology and political science specifically and in social science and humanities in general, after Jacques Ranciere’s Politics of Aesthetics (2004).
How one defines art, who has the authority to define it as such and what might be excluded from such definitions are, of course, all open to debate, while aesthetics might also be explored more broadly not only as applying to concrete objects, but also to processes of production and contexts of meaning, performance and (re)interpretation.
The 2012 conference takes place at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi. In most nations in which state patronage of the arts and crafts has been paramount or in a state of crisis, it is also argued, in popular discourse, that for the crafts to survive, local communities must be supported in relation to their environment. Ecological conservation must go hand in hand with providing support to communities and ‘techne’ (the latter term meaning work and knowledge as they are combined). The narratives of globalisation fruitfully interlock, then, with arts and crafts elsewhere in the world. Local communities, through tourism, global markets, new forms of technological assimilation and interaction are brought in touch with the outside world.
But this is not the only narrative. There are many others, for which conference participants are invited to propose and discuss. We encourage participants to consider, in relations to arts and aesthetics - however defined - areas such as:
Colonial, neo-colonial and post-colonial contexts
Ownership of discourses and identity
People and things
Social movements, minorities and inequality
Science and arts
Popular visual culture