The boasblog Contested Knowledge takes up the title and theme of the 2023 German Anthropological Association conference and prepares and accompanies this conference, inviting participants as well as non-participants, to discuss the following questions especially with regard to the interactions between anthropology and societal contestations of knowledge.

Knowledge generated through research is currently contested to an extent unprecedented since the beginning of modernity – and with it, the definition of science and its position in society. On the one hand, professional expertise continues to be invoked and used as a source of legitimacy for socio-political and individual decisions. On the other hand, such expertise is rejected as biased or questioned and criticized by counter-positions that are not always empirically grounded. Rightwing populist actors capitalize on structural changes in media cultures to fuel a general skepticism towards science, for example, by equating facts with falsifications, lies, and distortions. In the face of regressive retrenchments of knowledge, how should anthropologists confront the challenge of making transparent and defend the methodological status of evidence in the sense of time-bound horizons of validity?

Mediated cultures of contestation around knowledge, however, have also yielded movements like #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo and #CiteBlackAuthors that challenge hegemonic knowledge systems in privileged institutional spaces of the Global North and point to existing racisms. These movements have once again drawn critical attention to knowledge making as socio-culturally situated and conditioned by inequality and power imbalances. Such movements have prompted anthropology to analyze controversial forms of its knowledge generation, i.e., how knowledge is produced, stabilized, and legitimized by which actors and institutions in a situation of growing global inequality. How do multiple epistemologies and ontologies interact? What are the implications of calls for the decolonization of knowledge and university institutions for anthropological knowledge practices? How does anthropology deal with the political dimension of these research questions? What models of decolonial, participatory, activist, and collaborative research exist in the coproduction of knowledge and its representation? What are their limits? How do we reimagine and realize solidarities? How do the ongoing contestations prompt a reflection on one’s own privileges as anthropological researchers as well as the privileges of those who criticize them? How are these processes reflected in the institutions and practices of the discipline (e.g., division of labor, research alliances, campaigns such as #ich bin Hanna, and the politics of citation)?

While reflecting on its own disciplinary practices and institutions, anthropology is also uniquely positioned to analyze the current upheavals around knowledge and related mobilizations, for example around identity, gender, class, and culture. An anthropological analysis of increasingly contested knowledge processes in the broader society raises questions about the extent to which academic voices endowed with special discursive power and media visibility are viable for analyzing global inequalities and asymmetries. In short, who can speak about whom and how? Whether and how can others be spoken “about” or even “for”? With regard to political contestations, questions around ways to engage politically charged theoretical concepts (identity, belonging, gender, “race,” difference, inequality, culture, etc.) arise continuously. When does the self-aware use of language turns into self-censorship, and what are the implications? What does it mean when islands of discourse form and harden, across whose boundaries communication and consensus-building on the validity of bodies of knowledge becomes increasingly difficult?

If you would like to contribute to the blog, please send your text to contestedknowledge@boasblogs.org or to a member of the editorial team:

Valerie Hänsch valerie.haensch@ethnologie.lmu.de

Kristin Kastner kristin.kastner@ethnologie.lmu.de

Martin Sökefeld martin.soekefeld@lmu.de

Magnus Treiber magnus.treiber@lmu.de

Ehler Voss ehler.voss@uni-bremen.de

Formal Requirements – Checklist for Authors

We are looking forward to receiving your contribution. Before submitting, please consider the following guidelines. Please submit your contribution in .doc or .docx format. The texts may be written in English or German. Here’s what the structure of your document should look like:

  1. Title, subtitle (if applicable), and author’s name. Please do not format headlines with the corresponding function of your text editor. Just set them in bold letters for us.
  2. Text body: Length may vary, short is great, 3.000 words is substantial, if possible not more than 4.000 words. Please consult the preferences of the editors if in doubt. Subheadings within the text body should be set in bold, and NOT formatted as a headline by using formatting templates of your text editor program.
  3. (Audio-)Visuals: At least one image per blog post, but usually 2-5 high-quality, unusual images, graphics, photos of book covers, etc. that complement the article in a formidable way.
  • Images must be sent separately as .JPG or .PNG files in high quality, but not exceeding a maximum size of 2 GB. Image file names should be numbered consecutively and labeled with the author’s surname to make transparent to which contribution they belong (e.g.: Authorname_image 1).
  • For each image, include a caption and the source/ copyright holder (photographer; written source) and…
  • …indicate within the text body where exactly the images should be placed (ideally by a remark such as <insert image 1 here. Caption. Copyright.>)
  • Apart from images, audio files and videos can also be embedded in contributions, both such from other platforms (youtube, vimeo, podcast platforms, etc.), as well as your own recordings. We can upload any .MP4 or .MOV files to our data-protected university video portal in order to embed them within your blog post. For sending large files, you can use justsendit, for example, without the need for registration.
  • ***important: The rights to any audiovisual content must be cleared by you in advance. By receiving the images, we will assume that you have the printing rights! Each media content, be it an image or a video, require a caption and a source/copyright reference***
  1. Short CV of the author(s): approx. 8-10 lines or more for multiple authors (possibly also other publications on the topic).
  2. Footnotes: As a rule of thumb (there are exceptions), we prefer no or few footnotes if possible. Referrals to external sites in the form of links that are inserted on buzzwords within the text, on the other hand, are very welcome. If you decide to use footnotes, format them with Word or any text editor program you use.
  3. Bibliography, if applicable. Please use The Chicago Manual of Style.