Helsinki, October 21–22, 2015
Landscape has become a prevalent concept in anthropology in recent years, and it has acquired occasionally contested meanings in discussions across disciplines. Many anthropologists consider that landscape emerges and is perceived in different ways depending on time, place and space. According to this point of view, we can speak of landscape as a contextual social and cultural process defined by time, place and space rather than as an image and an object of the visual gaze. Landscapes can thus be seen as socially constructed mainsprings and mediators of being and belonging, of memories, cosmologies and narratives. Can we then, through landscape, space or place, understand something new about social relations? In what ways are landscapes constructed as wide networks of relations, of various kinds of socialities? And further, how do people’s practices, activities and meaning making processes affect and shape landscapes?
On the other hand, researchers focused on materiality have asked how social relations are enacted and communicated through material things and the use of space and how the chosen medium affects what is being communicated. Others have asked how the material properties of various resources, infrastructures and environments enable and restrict certain social forms. Can we say that certain materialities elicit certain kinds of political formations? Taking these viewpoints even further, can we assume that also objects and environments have something akin to agency? Do these notions further our understanding of social life and the politics associated with it, or – as others have noted – is ascribing agency to non-humans a form of fetishism that displaces politics from sight and curtails our understanding? In this conference we wish to explore these questions and further consider whether these discussions about materiality downplay humanism in social sciences? What is the role of politics and power in studies on landscapes and sociality?
The Finnish Anthropology Conference investigates these themes in 15 panels (see individual panel descriptions). The keynote speaker of the conference is Anna Tsing, and the Westermarck lecture is going to be given by Philippe Descola. On Friday October 23rd there will be an Anthropological Knots symposium, with a separate programme published later. The conference is organised by The Finnish Anthropological Society. General inquiries regarding the conference can be addressed to Anu Lounela (anu.lounela[a]helsinki.fi) or Katja Uusihakala (katja.uusihakala[a]helsinki.fi).