Finnish anthropology conference 2011

Dynamic Anthropology: Tensions between Theory and Practice

Where: University of Helsinki
When: October 5-7, 2011

One of the many legacies of the intellectual revolution of the 60s and 70s was the acknowledgment that anthropological theorization up until that time had principally addressed the concerns of people in Western societies: industrialized, capitalist, bureaucratic. For theory to have ‘value’ depended on how it could be harnessed to promote key societal projects. The projects have changed but it is a legacy that still generates numerous tensions: the proliferation of frequently short-lived anthropological theory after the 60s (Ortner’s ‘shreds and patches’); the postmodern critique of metanarratives and a retreat into ethnography and phenomenology; the pendulum swung back to a demand for stronger anthropological theory in the 21st century, in concert with the notion of ‘concept metaphors’; the bilateral career paths of applied anthropology – in the service of state and military organizations, corporations and NGOs – or scholarly anthropology with its emphasis on the importance of indigenous perspectives and the cultural specificity of Western projects. These – mostly productive – tensions are what make anthropology what it is today.

This conference invites participants to look beyond conventional divides and to explore and engage with theoretical, methodological, political and ethical questions from every perspective.

Please see the conference web page for details of accepted session proposals to date – and watch for updates. We cordially invite you to submit individual paper proposals which align themselves with these sessions. The proposals should comprise abstracts of 250-300 words accompanied by a brief CV and be submitted directly to the session organizers.

Deadline for paper proposals: 16th June.

Further inquiries may be made of Toomas Gross ( or Timo Kallinen (

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