Jens Adam, Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

“Modes of assembling”: comparative ethnography in political fields

In my talk I will present and contrast empirical material from two quite different fields – Germany’s transnational cultural policy interventions in “conflict zones” in the Middle East and Southeastern Europe on the one hand; civic initiatives for urban regeneration on the other hand – to contribute to ongoing discussions about possible future developments of an “Anthropology of Policy” (Shore & Wright 1997; Shore, Wright & Però 2011). In this line of research “policies” have been conceived as “processes of contestation”, in the course of which key concepts of societal/political life are debated, confirmed or realigned. Simultaneously “policies” can be understood as “processes of assembling” that connect a high variety of actors, resources, materialities, sites or narratives and contribute hereby to the preconfiguration of future political debates, fields and dynamics. Against this background the question if different “modes of assembling” can be identified as main driving force or underlying rationality of a given policy process has not sufficiently been discussed so far. In my paper I will propose to differentiate between different such “modes” based on their temporalities, the capabitites they mobilise and the effects they evoke. Drawing on ethnographic case studies I will argue that a focus on “modes of assembling” can contribute to a better understanding of the respective creative and regulative power emerging in the trajectories of a policy as well as to an analysis of currently emerging futures.

All seminars in the series.