Anthropologies of the Future, the Future of Anthropology

Third SIAC National Conference
Rome, 22-25 September 2021

What will the world be like after the pandemic? As anthropologists know so well, great changes can arise out of the most dramatic crises. To plan, imagine and dream the future is a fundamental dimension of every culture in every epoch, a “cultural capacity” (Appadurai 2014) with a strongly creative and typically human value. The conference aims to reflect on the timeliness of this notion and on the different anthropologies of the future that have developed in the most wide-ranging contexts. In this light, moreover, it is fundamental that we ask ourselves how anthropology has adapted to the pandemic and how its foundations and methods will change in a future that could turn out to be radically different from the world we know.

In order to reflect together on these themes, we propose some broad topics that we consider important, in any case inviting you to make proposals that add to the themes and widen the field of reflection on the future.

Conceptions of the future produced in different contexts and periods reveal a variety of imaginary projections, individual and collective hopes, value systems and more generally, a capacity for technological, economic and cultural planning. In societies studied by anthropologists, what forms do we find of the cultural capacity to predict and construct models of the future?

The digital acceleration we are witnessing with the pandemic has entailed a greater pervasiveness of technology in people’s daily lives. Moreover, policies of confinement and reduced mobility highlight the centrality of presence and physicality as a challenge to the elimination of distances that digital technologies produce. What developments await us for the future in the sphere of communication?

Representations of the future are apparent today in the complex universe of web portals and in the audiovisual and multimedia production of digital natives. How can we interpret the themes and languages they feature, which can also be understood as the expression of critical positions on the part of the authors?

The environmental crisis is unavoidable and its intensification has been made visible by the pandemic, which has been attributed to species jump on the part of a presumed original virus. The growing proximity of all living things –which compete for spaces that are increasingly limited and shared, that previously they had to themselves– stands out as a specific feature of the present. How are relations getting rearticulated between the human, living things and common existential spaces in a future of high density and interdependence? How can we rethink dialogical and polyphonic relations with the environment?

Inequalities that have increased in the wake of the recent economic crisis have been intensified by the pandemic, leaving entire categories of people more vulnerable. This has exacerbated the distance between the West and the Global South, forcefully bring the post-colonial question to the fore. What contribution can anthropology offer to combat this phenomenon, rethinking models of welfare shaped by neoliberal economies in local contexts and global dynamics?

With the pandemic crisis, migratory processes seem to have lost the centrality that they had taken on public discussion in recent decades. What is the future of migrations in view of the reproduction of stereotypes, various forms of political manipulation and a growing self-absorption of the West? Today, how can we rethink transnational flows of persons in relation to the altered global scenario?

The question of gender has experienced major difficulties, expressed according to different measures and responsibilities in the public and private spheres, in family and kin groups –through new forms of assistance and support made necessary by the pandemic– as well as in the world of work, institutions and the political sphere. Through the prism of gender, how can we read old and new asymmetries in view of the pandemic?

The politics and policies of health have occupied ample space in the public debate dominated by science and scientists, attributing a new centrality to biomedical knowledge. Nonetheless, the plurality and conflicting of viewpoints, as well as the emergence of the political nature of choices connected to the pandemic, all suggest a reflection on the relationship between science and health policies. What future can we prospect in a post-pandemic epoch in relation to the dimensions of body, health, suffering and treatment?

Work has undergone considerable transformations in all occupational sectors. How can ethnographies allow us to read the relationship between the present and future of work, the outcomes of technological transformations, and the crisis that has affected many sectors in the wake of the pandemic? What can ethnographies say about reconfigurations in production and organization, roles and tasks, precarization and insecurity of work and in work, during and after the pandemic?

Tangible and intangible cultural heritage is a key notion capable of moving feelings of belonging, identity politics, rediscoveries of the past, rewritings of history, and economic interests. The pandemic crisis has caused sudden transformations in the modes of use and valorization of cultural goods, opening spaces of experimentation that take advantage of digital technologies. In what way can cultural heritage in general, and ethnographic museums in particular, face such challenges? What heritage do we imagine for the near future?

New memories, individual and collective, have permitted a reshaping of daily life in the extraordinariness of the pandemic. This has taken place through current and novel languages and styles, and through the rediscovery of traces left in family and community memories that narrate wars, famines and epidemics of past centuries. Given the proliferation of new practices of memory that have been deployed to make an unpredictable event like a pandemic thinkable, how can we rethink conceptions of time?

Digital ethnography and internet ethnography have become an important part of the anthropologist’s toolkit, even in fields that are not directly connected to digital worlds, and this tendency has been particularly noticeable where in-person relations have been limited or prevented. How will the pandemic phase contribute to permanently restructuring the daily practices of future anthropologists?

Proposals should be sent in Italian and English, specifying in which language the panel will be held.

Registration for the conference as convenors, panelist or discussants is without fee.

The registration procedures will be announced later.

Send A Panel Proposal

The proposal must include:

  • Language of the panel (Italian, English or both)
  • Proposing organizers and respective affiliations
  • Title of the panel (in Italian and English)
  • Abstract (in Italian and English, max. 400 words)
  • Five keywords (in Italian and English)
  • Max. four bibliographic references
  • Possible discussant.

Once the call for papers is open, each panel will be able to host a maximum of eight papers, plus the discussant, divided into a maximum of two sessions.


4 March – 3 May: Call for panels

13 May – 14 June:  Call for papers

Scientific committee

Stefano Allovio, Francesco Bachis, Alberto Baldi, Elena Bougleux, Angela Cicirelli, Caterina Di Pasquale, Gabriella D’Agostino, Vincenzo Esposito, Anna Iuso,  Ferdinando Mirizzi, Cecilia Pennacini, Dorothy Zinn.

Organizing committee

Francesco Bachis, Alberto Baldi, Elena Bougleux, Angela Cicirelli, Caterina Di Pasquale, Antonio Fanelli, Rossana Di Lella, Simone Ghezzi, Anna Iuso, Cecilia Pennacini,


Anna Iuso (convegnosiac2021@gmail.com)


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