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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Ethnographic Encounters with Reductionism and Essentialism [Commission on Marginalization and Global Apartheid]


Location: Poznań, Poland
Date: 29 Aug 11:00 - 17:15


Room 3.129

The study of different types of othering is one of the central themes in Anthropology that gained a new sense of urgency. Within the current global rise of populist politics, which systematically preys on essentialist and reductionist representations of the social world, our scholarship couldn’t be more relevant. Ethnographic methods are well suited to study and contest such dangerous narratives, as they both allow for a contextual understanding of the uses and meanings of essentialism and reductionism, while at the same time uncovering the diversity and plurality of human life that escapes any simplistic categorisations. In this panel we propose to explore different ethnographic cases, draw comparisons and construct theoretical framings, that advance our understanding of the role of essentialism and reductionism in people’s lives. We are interested in both politicised and quotidian narratives, actions and projects which are based on reductionist or essentialist assumptions about individuals or groups of people.


  • P 41.1
    • Dr. Kurzwelly, Jonatan (University of the Free State)
    • Dr. Wallace, Marie (Arizona State University)
  • P 41.2
    • Dr. Kurzwelly, Jonatan (University of the Free State)
    • Dr. Wallace, Marie (Arizona State University)

Timetable | Contribution List

Displaying 10 contributions out of 10
National censuses, which introduce numerical, essentialist and reductionist representations of a culturally diverse society, can be interpreted not only as a statistical procedure, but also as a form of violence on the part of nation states against minorities, in that they impose a simplified system of categorisation in the description of varied and complex ethnocultural identities. It is rarely n ... More
Presented by Dr. Katarzyna WARMIŃSKA on 29/8/2019 at 13:30
Ema Keithel is one of the most historically important and unique market in the whole South Asia for being entirely operated and managed by womenfolk. It stands as a symbol of women empowerment in Manipur society. In the history of world, women’s of Manipur holds a high position, only in terms of domestic and social affair but also in political sphere, the women of Manipur stood firm in forefront ... More
Presented by Nonibala RAJKUMARI on 29/8/2019 at 9:30
Transnational discourses that operate at various scales are especially porous to essentialized notions of difference and the unequal moral geographies they naturalize. Using a conjunctural analysis of development discourse in and about São Tomé and Príncipe (STP), this paper aims to trace the relationship between sociocultural constructions of difference and socioeconomic structures of exclusio ... More
Presented by Nicola Sarah SOEKOE on 29/8/2019 at 9:15
This paper will examine radicalisation as an identity process, based on the life story of Muhammad Elvis Ngum. Muhammad’s life has been marked by many transitions. He grew up in Cameroon, moving between the anglophone to the francophone regions and transitioning from Christianity to Islam. Upon migrating to South Africa he was constantly reduced to a singular category – the state apparatus and ... More
Presented by Dr. Jonatan KURZWELLY on 29/8/2019 at 13:45
2019 began in South Africa with a flurry of media reports describing, some in vivid graphic detail, the ritual slaughter of a sheep on a popular Cape Town beach by a group of #MustFall activists. Their action was in response to reports that a private security company, ostensibly working at the behest of nearby local commercial outlets and residents, had forced Black people off the beach. Focusing ... More
Presented by Dr. Andrew ' Mugsy' SPIEGEL on 29/8/2019 at 9:00
Referring to the role of essentialist notions in identity discourse, the paper will reflect on the identity of contemporary Zoroastrians. The findings presented will be based mainly on materials collected through participant observation in the 11th World Zoroastrian Congress held in 2018 that gathered Zoroastrian leaders and social and religious activists from India (the Parsis), Iran and diaspora ... More
Presented by Dr. Paulina NIECHCIAŁ on 29/8/2019 at 14:00
The complex realities of protracted encampment challenge the dominant representation of camps as temporary spaces of emergency. Not only has such representation shaped the popular perception of these spaces, but it also tends to underpin much of the research on camps. For one, the many studies that follow Giorgio Agamben’s concept of the camp as a space of exception tend to overlook the relation ... More
This paper consists of three parts. In the first part, I will analyse the essentialist positions in Philosophy and Social Sciences. The essentialist doctrine assumes that the referent units of abstract names share one or more characteristics. This tradition traces back to Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. In modernity, essentialism became the foundation of certain social movements and radical ideolog ... More
Presented by Prof. Witold JACORZYNSKI on 29/8/2019 at 9:45
In an insightful study, Georges Devereux analysed the uprising in Hungary in 1956 against Soviet control. How had the social movement come about? Devereux argued that any social movement existed not because its individual members exhibited attitudinal uniformity, but because in the ‘same’ collective act individuals were serendipitously able to find a socially acceptable, expression for possibl ... More
Presented by Dr. Nigel RAPPORT on 29/8/2019 at 14:15
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