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ISPSAM-ISP - Samfunnsvitenskap

De-naturalizing difference: Challenging the production of global social inequality

Awarded: NOK 2.8 mill.

Norwegian anthropology is a significant international research community, which was clearly emphasized in the evaluation of Norwegian social anthropological research conducted by the Research Council in 2010-11. This four-year project "De-naturalizing Difference" is financed by funds provided by the Research Council to follow up the evaluation, and aims to implement a strategic discipline development through national cooperation and various international profiling. Emphasizing the development of new theoretical approaches to the study of global social inequality, the project aims to place Norwegian anthropology even stronger in international debates, through increased visibility and through innovative contribution to scientific-theoretical debates. The project established national and international collaborative networks, and carried out a series of academic debates and conferences. Through organizing several seminars, workshops, reading groups and lectures, the project has contributed to developing the theoretical debate on how the production of global equality / inequality also involves a "naturalization" of social categories and differentiation mechanisms. We have initiated several arena for promoting national and international dialogues around analytical and methodological approaches to social inequality and naturalization processes. We have organized seminars and presentations about the challenges that global realities represent for anthropology and its aim to be a comparative discipline. Our work is focused on different arena related to the questions about anthropological social contributions - as well as the assumptions that underlie our perspectives. Our work in developing new approaches and new theoretical twists to the study of social inequality is particularly important at a time of growing social inequalities globally and locally and where differentiation mechanisms seem to gain legitimacy in new ways. There has been a great focus on publishing the outcomes of lectures and seminars held during the project period. An important dimension of each of the larger project events is that they will lead to an international publication. As part of the publication plan for the project, Edvard Hviding and Synnøve Bendixsen (series editors) initiated the series of "Approaches to Social Inequality and Difference" in Palgrave. Several monographs and anthologies have been published in this series, more than what we stated in the publication information and performance indicators. The series provides a unique opportunity for participants in the project and others to publish in an international peer reviewed press. The series has received a lot of attention, and will therefore continue beyond the project period after an explicit request from Palgrave. In addition to individual journal articles, two edited books in an international peer reviewed press (Palgrave) came out in 2016, one edited book in 2017 and the manuscript of the fourth edited book will be submitted early 2018. The project has thus produced an edited book on an international peer reviewed press based on each of the seminars, which the project has held during the project period. Further, the series has opened up for two additional edited books written by department staff and other attached researchers. The series ?Approaches to Social Inequality and Difference? has emerged as one of the 'Most Read on Mendeley in 2017'. This contributes to more marketing of the series from Palgrave in particular, who will highlight it across channels, including via e-mail and other social media platforms.

As a response to the evaluation report "Social and Cultural Anthropological Research in Norway: An Evaluation", and the follow-up committee's recommendations, this application proposes a strategic collaborative research project involving the formation of a strong scholarly network, the organization of a series of workshops and several major international dissemination events, and a publishing agenda. The project aims to expand the institutional participants' international network, to produce influential i nternational publications, and to locate more Norwegian anthropology in central international, comparative debates of anthropological theory. The present proposal is one in which massive ethnographic materials held collectively by the participants and the ir wider networks are brought to bear on a fresh theoretical agenda that seeks to challenge prevailing positions concerning social inequality worldwide, and that aims to develop new theoretical approaches for understanding the production of inequality und er the rapidly evolving global social, economic and political circumstances of the present time. The common ground for the project is to explore the intersection between inequality and difference through a focus on processes of naturalization in a changin g world. A basic premise is that naturalization processes are related to new types of globalized power dynamics, and that this presents deep analytical challenges. Three thematic fields are singled out for exploring naturalization processes: (1) Configura tions of economy and governance; (2) Technologies; (3) Ontologizing difference through the de- and renaturalizing of boundaries. Thïs project of theory development is grounded in the strong tradition of Norwegian anthropology for thorough and holistic eth nography based on long-term, repeated fieldwork in localities across the world, a tradition that provides privileged ground for engaging in innovative rethinking and new theorization of global social inequality.

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ISPSAM-ISP - Samfunnsvitenskap

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