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Thematic Areas

  1.     Archeology
  2.     Cultural Studies
  3.     Economics
  4.     Educational Studies
  5.     Gender Studies
  6.     History
  7.     Human Rights
  8.     Linguistics, Literature and Media
  9.     Philosophy
  10.     Biological Anthropology
  11.     Politics and State Transformation
  12.     Postcolonial Studies
  13.     Religious Studies
  14.     Social and Cultural Anthropology
  15.     Socio-Ecological Crisis, Environmental and Resource Politics
  16.     Innovative Symposia

1. Archeology
Chair: Christian Feest

Archaeological excavations of new sites and the continued or renewed exploration of previously known sites continues to expand knowledge of the pre-European, colonial, and industrial cultural traditions of the Americas. At the same time, new insights are being uncovered by three means: by placing old and new data into new interpretative frameworks aimed at elucidating non-material aspects of culture on the basis of material evidence; by the compilation and analysis of stylistic corpora of objects preserved in museum collections; and by placing the archeological record into the context of evidence derived from written and visual documents.
The 54 ICA especially invites the submission of proposals for symposia dealing with questions of a translocal nature (such as Paleo-Indian studies, urbanization, prehistoric political and social organization, methodological and theoretical approaches), comparative studies of prehistoric art and iconography, research on the study of prehistoric and early colonial culture contact and industrial archaeology.


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2. Cultural Studies

Chair: Kathrin Sartingen

The ‘cultural turn’ has created new perspectives and fields of research for the humanities. However, cultural studies are evolving more and more into a diverging and ambiguous concept. Depending on cultural background, this concept takes the form of cultural contacts and conflicts, interculturality and pluriculturality, sociology of culture, cultural philosophy, transcultural studies, cultural discourses and processes, literary criticism as a form of cultural studies, media culture, cultural memory and cultures of remembrance, cultural anthropology, the study of mythology, identity and alterity, border and gender studies. As such, cultural studies enables different types of theoretical constructions within the discipline itself; a fact that has become even more evident when considering the dichotomy between an active and socio-political dimension and an analytical historical perspective in research. These dichotomies are all the more present in the Americas, in a media-oriented age where national borders seem to dissolve into a global community leading irremediably to cultural homogenization by deconstructing solidified cultural spaces. Which model of cultural dialogue will allow us to rethink this new situation that paradoxically focuses on and strengthens the local and one’s own culture whilst abandoning all notions of the national? Thus, it seems appropriate to establish a new mapping of cultural contacts and transpositions. We understand Cultural Studies as a transdisciplinary gathering of research, intending to explore these multidimensional phenomena of culture in a combined effort. Taking different cultural perspectives into account, the 54 ICA encourages open, cross-disciplinary submissions aiming at a new cultural dialogue in and about the Americas.


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3. Economics

Chair: Ulrich Brand

Economic developments are at the core of public debates and this is even more the case since a world economic crisis began in 2007. After a long period of market reforms, a debate started in Latin America around several issues such as the identification of new balances between market and state. The US attempts to defend its leadership in the world economy. Intense debates take place about the relationship between the industrial and the financial sectors, the role of new growth poles and spatial polarization. In economics, a great variety of theoretical and methodological approaches exists and should be put to a fruitful conversation at the congress. We ask, among other topics, for proposals on different theoretical and methodological approaches in the field, including new developmentalism, postmaterial development, sustainable development; economic history and policies in specific areas, countries or in comparative perspective; the relationship between regional or national developments and regional integration in relation to the world market; the role of financial markets and technological innovations; developments in specific commodity sectors; socio-economic developments in non-market sectors like subsistence economy or the area of reproduction and care; the impact of the actual crisis as well as analyses and explanations of the crisis; and proposals on the impacts and limitations of the extractivist development style.


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4. Educational Studies

Chair: Claudia Augustat

In recent years, educational studies in the Americas have dealt extensively with issues of intercultural and bilingual education. Particularly in Latin America, they have often focused on the difference between indigenous, African-American, and Euro-American communities, although the range of cultural differences is much wider. Religion, class, and migration background are other factors mainly discussed in North American studies. The 54 ICA especially invites proposals uniting the results of research from these various areas in order to promote a broad and transdisciplinary discussion. Comparisons with Europe, where intercultural education has likewise has become an important topic, are also encouraged. This background of a wide range of empirical data invites the discussion of perspectives, possibilities, but also limitations of “global learning.”


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5. Gender Studies

Chair: Josefina Echavarría A.

Gender studies in the Americas have taken up new and challenging topics that refer to the transformations in this academic field and in the region itself. Bringing in masculinities as a central concern - especially in post-conflict societies -, the effects of economic integration and international trade on sex and gender relationships, as well as the intersectional analysis of social policies, as well as work and health from a gender perspective, are just a few issues that have become crucial in the Americas. The emphasis of the 54 ICA general call for building dialogues among and within disciplinary fields and for creating productive conversations across ICA themes and perspectives, echoes the very landmarks of gender research. We thus invite submissions from essentialist to post-structuralist perspectives that deal with historical and contemporary topics, such as the examination of democratization, migration, gender mainstreaming, violence, religion, security, conflict and post-conflict societies.


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6. History

Chair: Berthold Molden

Many of the challenges and changes historiography has experienced during the last decades have concerned the Americas. Oral history practices have been inspired by anthropologic research. Postmodern criticism of Western historical master narratives found ideal carriers and promoters in (self-)empowering counter-hegemonic and subaltern voices from both North and South, as well as from migratory experiences. Global history approaches like World System Theory, with their epicenter in the US, have been partly inspired (by dependency theories) and partly modified (by postcolonial critique) from Latin America. In addition, the last three decades’ fastest growing sub-field – politics of history and memory – was triggered in an important way by social confrontations with the heritage and legitimacy of Latin American dictatorships, and by the politics of Holocaust remembrance in the US, among other things. The 54 ICA encourages proposals from a broad range of theoretical and methodological backgrounds that take up two perspectives: the entanglements and transnational transfers between the regions, societies, communities of common experience, political agency and memory in the Americas; and, on the meta-level of the history of science, the multi-vectorial academic relations that represent these entanglements in intellectual history.


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7. Human Rights
Chair: Margarete Grandner

Human Rights continue to pose vast challenges in the Americas and demand scholarly efforts across various academic disciplines. Since the end of the once-widespread dictatorships and the propensity for civil war that almost defined the 1980s, the Americas have witnessed a dramatic increase in the number and variety of institutions whose purpose is to hold states and individuals accountable for gross violations of human rights and hasten peaceful rebuilding in post-conflict communities. Yet despite the official democratization wave, Americans are often subject to human rights abuses. Disappearances, torture, targeting of political critics, police brutality and impunity are salient features in several American contexts. In the face of such violations, manifold organizations – from local to transnational, governmental and NGOs – have raised their voices and organized actions in order to oppose, denounce and try to remedy such abuses. For the 54 ICA, we invite submission of proposals from a wide specter of both theoretical and action-oriented research to deal with contemporary and historical issues under the umbrella of legal, political, cultural and economic questions on human rights topics, such as migration, (counter)terrorism measures, freedom of expression and movement, to name but a few of the approaches and perspectives around which dialogues can be built upon human rights issues in the Americas.


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8. Linguistics, Literature and Media

Chair: Kathrin Sartingen

The Americas are an ideal environment to study different subdisciplines of linguistics, literature and media. The growing Hispanic community in the US and the permanent dialog with the different cultures of the South (Central and South America) become an interesting focus of study in linguistic, cultural and literary terms. The influence of Spanish on the English language and the emergence of new hybrid forms of expression (Spanglish) are particularly interesting – not only for linguistic studies (bilingualism and language contact studies), but also for literature and cinema (e.g. Chicano literature and cinema), in which these phenomena are reflected in the topics (e.g. immigration, diaspora) and in the narrative forms (showing multilingualism and other language contact phenomena). In South America, the dialogue between Portuguese and Spanish, as well as between Spanish and indigenous languages (guaraní or quechua) is becoming more and more open. Culture, traditions and indigenous myths build an identity sign in the literature of Hispanoamerican and Brazilian writers who, paradoxically, increasingly demand their own culture, especially in an era of globalization and apparent cultural homogenization. This tendency of focusing on autochthonous characteristics is being established in other media, particularly cinema. The 54 ICA encourages submissions dealing with multilingualism (mainly dialogue among languages and dialogue among texts), multiculturalism and also the impact of migration and its reflection in literature and cinema. Transnational, intertextual and intermedial phenomena as well as the analysis of literary and linguistic heritage of pre-colonial cultures in the postcolonial America present further relevant foci of analysis for this interdisciplinary academic field.


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9. Philosophy

Chair: Johann Schelkshorn

Philosophical communities in the Americas clearly display differing perspectives of theoretical thought. In spite of severe controversies and substantial differences regarding many issues within the philosophical disciplines, many North American philosophies remain indisputably married to European thought. However, in Latin America the intellectual situation is subject to a wide diversity of disputes. On the one hand, in both geographical regions, several philosophies can be found that continue the traditions of European philosophy. On the other hand, since the nineteenth century a specific “Latin American philosophy” project emerged, which in turn produced a broad spectrum of different branches (Historia de las ideas / History of ideas; Liberation philosophies; intercultural philosophies). For this reason, the relationship between the philosophies of the Americas has been and remains very complex and controversial. During the last three decades, migration processes and social transformations in many Latin American countries have produced political, societal, and cultural constellations, which imply new challenges and perspectives for a new dialogue between the heterogeneous philosophical currents of the Americas.


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10. Biological Anthropology
Chair: Christian Feest

In connection with the four-fields approach of anthropology, contributions from biological anthropology have in the past held a prominent place in the deliberations of the ICA. With increasing specialization and diversification of the discipline, this approach has for the most part disappeared from the ICA program, creating somewhat of a vacuum.  The potential inherent in biological approaches to a wide variety of historical, cultural, and social issues has been mostly ignored.
The 54 ICA explicitly welcomes proposals for symposia based upon advances in human biology, forensic anthropology, anthropological genetics, and biomedical anthropology, with regards to the study of the past and present populations of the Americas. As with other research fields, panels taking a transdisciplinary approach with regard to subject matter on a local, regional, or continental scope will be given special consideration, as will be comparative translocal approaches. The relationship of ethical questions and cultural sensitivities to biological studies of human populations and the history of Americanist biological anthropology are equally relevant within the context of the program of the 54 ICA.


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11. Politics and State Transformation

Chair: Ulrich Brand

Recent years have seen profound political transformation in the Americas. At government level, in some Latin American countries as well as in the US, reorientations towards conservative or progressive governments could be observed and need to be analyzed. Beside governments, actors like private companies, non-governmental organizations or social movements have had increasing impact on public debates, state politics and social developments. The 54 ICA attempts to bring together a broad range of research from different perspectives. We encourage submissions on topics like new and renewed approaches in theories and methods in political science and related disciplines; historical and actual analyses of the state and state transformation as well as processes of governance; analyses in specific policy fields as case studies or in a comparative perspective; the role of non-governmental actors such as private companies and their associations, NGOs, social movements, media, think tanks etc.; forms and contents of multilateral cooperation among states and other actors; political and social conflicts and the forms to deal with them; impacts and effects of indigenous movements; the debate around populism; dynamics and processes connected with the new left or progressive governments; and politics of regional integration in Latin America.


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12. Postcolonial Studies

Chair: Kathrin Sartingen, Berthold Molden

The Americas provide multiple fields of research for postcolonial studies. On the one hand, all regions have been colonies of European powers at a certain time in their history and they have influenced each other in their quest for independence. On the other hand, relations between the US and Latin America have often been described as a Northern neo-colonialist grasp against which the Southern neighbors have been trying to defend themselves in different ways. Postcolonial approaches help to explain social phenomena between nation-states and regions: Are there peripheries and a center within the Americas? How about the relations to Europe and other world regions? Postcolonial approaches focus on social relations within specific societies and between different ethnic and religious groups. And, when brought together with border studies, they add to the understanding of migratory realities. The 54 ICA does not suggest a particular approach to postcolonial studies, but openly welcomes transdisciplinary proposals focusing on multidirectional entanglements in the Americas. We particularly encourage contributions concerning Brazil, where postcolonial perspectives have been comparatively scarce.


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13. Religious Studies
Chair: Christian Feest and Claudia Augustat

Religion is frequently looked at and analyzed in isolation, as a separate domain of culture primarily concerned with ideas and practices relating to the spiritual world. This is despite the obvious mutual interrelationships between religion and other aspects of society, such as politics or economy, which should make it a natural fit with a breadth of interdisciplinary approaches. In this light, the 54 ICA seeks to promote this debate on an interdisciplinary level. Historical, anthropological, sociological, and economic approaches can shed light on a complex phenomenon that is neither a mere result of modernity nor limited to Western societies. Before this background, we especially encourage the submission of proposals relating to studies of religious or confessional pluralism and syncretism, the commodification of religion and the relationship between religious and secular world-views.


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14. Social and Cultural Anthropology

Chair: Elke Mader

In the Americas, social and cultural anthropology covers a broad field of research that engages with a great variety of people and places. The 54 ICA encourages proposals from a wide range of topical and regional fields, as well as theoretical and methodological reflections. Ethnographic studies today encompass urban and rural populations and social configurations; they can be directed at specific local cultural practices as well as at transcultural processes or global flows. Symposia and papers in social and cultural anthropology can focus on specific local and regional practices and processes, or particular ethnic or cultural groups. In this respect we want to continue, e.g., the long-standing tradition of the ICA of engaging with life worlds and cultures of Native Americans/Indigenous people in changing contexts.
Furthermore, the 54 ICA welcomes submissions committed to overarching topical fields that reflect the great variety of sub disciplines of social and cultural anthropology. In particular, it wants to encourage symposia and papers that integrate case studies from both Americas. They can be set explicitly within a framework of comparative anthropology, or represent a loose configuration of studies on a topic. One topical focus we would like to put forward is the engagement with questions of movement, borders and transgressions that can encompass old and new issues concerning the construction/deconstruction of personhood, gender, community or culture in times of globalization; such questions can also be discussed with regards to theoretical debates or to challenges of fieldwork/methods. Another topical field shall focus on processes and practices with regards to diverse forms of material and visual culture in general, and on the constantly changing field of ICT and its implications for a wide range of social and cultural phenomena in particular. A third topical focus we would like to suggest concerns the anthropology of nature as a broad field of research bridging issues, such as concepts of nature in regard to cosmology, ritual or social practices on the one hand, and interdisciplinary studies of ecological problems or climate change, on the other hand.


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15. Socio-Ecological Crisis, Environmental and Resource Politics

Chair: Ulrich Brand

The ecological crisis is obviously a severe social problem that is experienced in very different ways. Yet despite a broad public acceptance of the problematic dimensions of the ecological crisis and of its implications for humanity (climate change, biodiversity loss, soil erosion, deforestation etc.; in some fields of research a crisis of civilization is detected) there are few effective policies to deal with the crisis. Moreover, it has become superseded by resource politics in fields like energy, food or minerals. We invite scholars to present their research at 54 ICA around the following and other themes like: theoretical and methodological developments, including differing patterns of knowledge; the analysis of concrete phenomena and causes of the manifold dimensions of the crisis in regions, countries or areas, such as deforestation; research on the difference in vulnerability of particular regions and/or social groups; environmental conflicts, particularly those concerning extractive sectors; the discussion of citizenship and alternative citizenships facing environmental issues; alternative political ecologies following the lead of indigenous peoples; and the state of environmental policies under the progressive governments.


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16. Innovative Symposia
Chair: Martina Kaller-Dietrich

For the first time in the history of ICA congresses we have introduced the new section innovative symposia, which gives us the chance to call for presentations and audience discussions related to the history of the congress itself and particularly about a timely or controversial subject. This offers the opportunity for creativity and experimentation to push beyond the traditional symposium format, including special room set-ups concerning technical and spatial features.


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