The study of different forms in which social and cultural divisiveness occurs has been at the core of much modern and contemporary social sciences and philosophy. Among those are processes such as social and cultural categorisation, identity construction, othering, ascription of hierarchically ordered values, xenophobia and marginalisation. In all instances they manifest in discrimination that sometimes deprecates, sometimes merely differentiates and sometimes exalts.
In the context of the contemporary global rise of identitarianism, socio-cultural divisiveness often intensifies extreme forms of discrimination. This makes scholarly examination of social and cultural divisiveness as, or possibly even more, important and relevant than it has been previously. The Commission for the Study of Difference, Discrimination and Marginalisation aims to foster academic debates and research that focuses on how and why those kinds of processes play out at all societal levels, from that of individuals through to more general socio-cultural and political economic life. It also aims to combine perspectives from a wide range of different academic disciplines and scholarly traditions in order to achieve that goal. These goals derive from recognition that a broad, comparative and trans-disciplinary focus carries the potential to push debates into and between research fields that often remain discrete and detached from other research fields. The goal is thus to bridge what often remains a series of fragmented discussions and sets of research outcomes in order thereby to enable mutual insight across various otherwise disjointed fields.
Jonatan Kurzwelly, University of Goettingen,
jonatan.kurzwelly [at] uni-goettingen.de
Andrew ‘Mugsy’ Spiegel, University of Cape Town,
mugsy.spiegel [at] uct.ac.za
A third convenor position is currently open and will be filled in soon
The main medium of communication for the commission is its mailing list, and all interesting persons are encouraged to join freely.
SDDM’s mailing list: lists.waunet.org/listinfo.cgi/mga-waunet.org
The Commission’s topics of academic interest include, but are not limited to:
The commission strives to build on anthropological insights through a trans-disciplinary approach that includes widely diverse voices and perspectives and that generates novel perspectives and comprehension. To that end, the commission will go out of its way to encourage colleagues from the four fields of anthropology as well as from all fields of humanities, social sciences, philosophy, law and the arts, and from the biological and psychological sciences, to participate in its work. The commission also strives to foster a truly global debate, that allows not only trans-disciplinary but also cross-contextual comparisons that draw from local particularities.
The commission aims to sponsor panels and round tables and to meet regularly at academic congresses and conferences, as well as to organise independent seminars, meetings and – once solidly established – dedicated conferences of its own. The primary goal is to foster scholarly debate and exchange that will hopefully lead to publications. In addition, it is anticipated that the commission’s work may ultimately also be useful to policy makers at all levels of society. All members of the commission are encouraged to propose events or other projects that are of interest to the commission.
The IUAES Commission for the Study of Difference, Discrimination and Marginalisation invites all anthropologists, wherever they are situated, as well as and other scholars in related fields to join the commission, to participate in the commission’s activities and to propose additional activities that contribute to the commission meeting its goals – whether those be conference panels, webinars, conferences or other recognised commission activities.
The commission, initially called the IUAES Commission on Marginalization and Global Apartheid, was formally established in 2018 during the IUAES World Congress in Florianopolis with Subhadra Channa and Faye Harrison as co-chairs. From then onwards, it has been active at all IUAES congresses and at conferences of other organisations, whilst also organising independent meetings and events including a webinar debate (June 2021) on the usefulness of the term Global Apartheid. In 2020, members of the commission published a selection of papers from a commission-sponsored panel at the IUAES2019 Congress in a special journal issue on essentialism (Anthropology Southern Africa 43(2)). In May 2021 Jonatan Kurzwelly and Mugsy Spiegel stepped into the roles of commission convenors.