ABSTRACT: Far from being an isolated phenomenon, international movement of certain people across borders could be conceived as a battlefield in which contrasting standpoints, discourses and actions surround the experience of people on the move. Racialized migrants from underprivileged parts of the globe frequently become the object of controversy between pro- and anti-migration groups who operate at different scales and through different channels, although the subjective experience of those who undergo life-threatening journeys is frequently overlooked or dismissed. Misconceptions and biases commonly nurture various narratives about migration, leading to the design of humanitarian practices, activist actions, national policies and international agreements that disregard migrants’ agency and the upholding of their rights and safety.
By critically exploring the sociopolitical and sociocultural universes surrounding migration through an anthropological lens, the contributions of this panel seek to address the shortcomings of humanitarianism, activism and public policy vis-à-vis international mobility and right to asylum. The panel proposes that investigating discourses and practices in the field of migration can provide important insights that contribute to anthropological scholarship on mobilities and borders, while informing diverse migration-related agents on best practices and orientations that could enhance the designing of more effective, ethical and socioculturally sensitive actions and programs. Presenters seek to address these matters from anthropology, though eventually complemented by interdisciplinary perspectives that may include comparative politics, international relations, development studies, human geography and linguistics, among other fields. The intention is to shift the narrative from stereotypical perceptions to empirical accounts that humanize migration experiences and provide new insights to the understanding of a variety of pro and anti-migration discourses. The panel welcomes traditional and non-traditional contributions from academics, activists, artists and practitioners of humanitarian and solidarity networks offering new insights and evidence-based knowledge from diverse contexts and settings.
The panel has two complementary perspectives: one offering studies that explore, scrutinize, analyze, challenge and deconstruct problematic discourses and practices surrounding migration, paying particular attention to the power dynamics intrinsic in migrants’ representation, and how its construction and dissemination impact upon public opinion, humanitarian work, policy-making and the everyday life of migrants. The other one digging ethnographically into expressions of community-based support and grassroots initiatives that provide innovative ideas and discussions about social actions that aim at the upholding of migrants’ dignity, rights and well-being. Both perspectives intersect suggest various forms of constructing counternarratives that could positively repair and reframe the modus operandi of migration supporters and collateral stakeholders.
By bringing together diverse viewpoints and experiences surrounding migration, this panel aims to tighten constructive links between theory, practice and action, generating critical knowledge that could assist in repairing conventional humanitarian and activist frameworks surrounding migration and asylum. Thereby, this panel aspires to foster positive transformations in public opinion, policy-making, and the overall treatment of migrants on local and global scales.



Bernardo López Marín (Durham University)

Gianmaria Lenti (La Trobe University)




Translation is not limited to a single concept or discipline. It encompasses all spheres of human activity and life. After sociological, cultural turns in translation, ecological concerns assumed significance. It was intended mainly to lend voice to experiences of people from subdued, minority speech communities who managed to survive on account of their emotional and cultural resilience. The concept of resilience moved from Physics and Engineering to study of ecological systems, Psychology, Anthropology and Pedagogy among others. It may be defined as the ability to maintain structure and pattern of behaviour in the face of disturbance or adversity. Subsequently ‘ecological resilience’ also was coined, which referred to the magnitude of disturbance an ecosystem could withstand without undermining self-regulated processes and structures. Adaptive capacity signifies the ability of an individual or community to handle changes in environment through observation, awareness and modifying survival patterns suitably. Present pandemic times have taught humankind to manage lifestyle in tune with altering situation around through emotional support from family, society and medical support system. Positive coping strategies are reflected in emotional resilience a community or region displays. Translation of literary texts helps in understanding resilience of members of a speech community in a region. Technology and translation are irrevocably related today, ensuring survival of languages, emotions, experiences and cultures through translated works which disseminate information universally, if rendered into a global language like English. This panel invites papers highlighting role of translation studies in reflecting resilience of a community in preserving linguistic, regional and cultural identities and aspirations.



Sai Chandra Mouli Timiri (Osmania University)




ABSTRACT: Anthropology Southern Africa's code of conduct was revised in 2005. It included several important features, some of them unique in the world. One was that promise of a regular return (every five years) to the code to check its premises against the world we encounter as anthropologists. This was intended to generate an iterative conversation about ethics in the Association and an ongoing critical assessment of the values that underpin our work, along with a lively record of experiences that might help shape our thinking about training and research. Despite regular reminders, however, the anticipated return has not happened. Instead, the code – if it is consulted at all (an issue participants may wish to discuss) – appears as a static set of principles rather than the responsive, reflective, reflexive and engaged conversation that the notes to the 2005 Code anticipated. Not only is this a lost opportunity to think about the value(s), politics and ethics of ethics processes but it also means that the code is out of step with contemporary developments, including social media and AI. A second unique feature was the suggestion in the notes that the Code could draw on relational ontologies, ubuntu, as a way to generate an ethical stance that - at least potentially - might have reparative value. Doing so would make the Code responsive to southern African social life and would facilitate a broader discussion of what value anthropology might have. This is of course not uncontroversial. In imagining a version of localisable reflections rather than a static code presumed to be universal, the suggestion runs the risk of reifying, instrumentalising and romanticising ontologies, among other things. Nevertheless, there is a conversation to be had about whether we need a code of conduct, and if so whether and how to make it responsive to our context. There is also an important conversation to be had about how we grapple with the ethical issues we may confront and how we train students to anticipate ethical problems. Does our code of conduct have any value? What features need revision or new attention? How might we live up to the code’s anticipated social life? How do we train anthropologists to think ethically about research, publication and comportment in the contemporary world? I invite papers that explore these questions with reference to revising our code and opening the living conversation that was imagined in 2005. A selection of the papers may form the basis of a special issue of our journal on this matter.



Fiona Ross (University of Cape Town)




ABSTRACT: This panel seeks to explore ethnographic and historical examples of the ways in which music and radio interact with societal norms in southern Africa. We are especially interested in the directionality of these interchanges and the ways in which ‘soundscapes’ might be understood to reflect and/or shape prevailing societal norms, and how radio broadcasting and musical performance might serve/act as platforms for political and social contestation. We seek to unpack some of the ways in which music radio and musical performance function as ‘tastemakers’ and the effects of these processes on individual, social and political subjectivities. We therefore welcome papers on historical and contemporary research based on musical performance across all genres and radio broadcasting in the region. There is a large body of anthropological work on related topics. Papers in this panel will engage this work, reevaluate it in contemporary contexts and build on theoretical arguments with original ethnographic or historical examples that demonstrate the ‘work’ done by soundscapes in creating expressions of relationships between humans and the sonic environments that we create and which in turn influence society in diverse ways.



Fraser McNeill (University of Pretoria)

Jimmy Pieterse (University of Pretoria)




ABSTRACT: In South Africa, recent calls for universal basic income (UBI) – particularly amongst NGOs and academics – emphasize its potential to provide regular, inclusive monthly social entitlements, free from punitive criteria regulating family structures and work-seeking behavior. UBI also promises to be cheaper and more efficient by diminishing the need for cumbersome bureaucracies to police so-called deservedness. And it promises to recoup entitlements from the wealthy through the tax system.
In South Africa, a country still scarred by deep racial divisions thirty years into democracy, demands for UBI is predicated on assumptions that a universal program can start to repair the un-universal and unevenly distributed harms of centuries of colonialism, segregation and apartheid (Torkelson, 2024; Klein and Fouksman, 2021).
Anthropological research (and research in cognate disciplines) reveals that while cash grants or UBI provide a minimum for survival, they do not exhaust people’s imaginaries and desires for the future (Torkelson, 2021; Fouksman and Dawson, 2020; Dubbeld, 2017; Vally, 2016). Those who should benefit the most from cash transfers or universal basic income often articulate distribution claims around land, housing, and work to address particular historical harms.The debate on UBI in South Africa primarily involves civil society groups, the press, and the government – rather than the voices of current recipients (or non-recipients) of social grants.
This panel seeks to broaden the UBI discussion, connecting it with longer histories, understandings and demands around reparations, repair, and justice. It aims to center research on the lived experiences, imaginaries, and desires of social grant recipients. Key questions include:
What are the distinct features and goals of UBI and reparation, and how do they complement or conflict in achieving equitable distribution?
How do the assumptions underlying UBI in South Africa contribute to addressing un-universal and unevenly distributed historical harms from colonialism, segregation, and apartheid?
In what ways do cash transfers alone or in the form of UBI affect ideologies or material effects of capitalism?
To what extent does the promise of UBI align with or diverge from understandings of reparations, reparative redress, and existing distribution claims related to land and work in South Africa?
How do the experiences, imaginaries, and desires of social grant recipients intersect with historical narratives of harm and injustice? To what extent do their political claims prompt alternative approaches to address and rectify historical injustices in the current context?
What challenges or opportunities in implementing UBI in South Africa arise from the historical context of colonialism, segregation, and apartheid, and how do these intersect with other distribution claims?

Contributions can be empirical or empirically informed theoretical work, and we invite interdisciplinary submissions from academics and activists.

We encourage participation from diverse disciplines beyond anthropology, such as sociology, geography, and political science.



Hannah Dawson (University of Johannesburg)

Erik Torkelson






Call for Contributions

The council of Anthropology Southern Africa invites you to submit panels, papers, round tables, films, workshops, art installations and other contributions for the annual conference hosted in the cty of Johannesburg, South Africa, from 6 - 8 November 2024.

Please click HERE for details.

Please click HERE to submit a contribution.

Conference contact email:





Second call for panels, papers, films, workshops, art installations etc

Present - 15 June 2024

Acceptance of second round of submissions

29 June 2024

Registration for ASnA Conference (and WAU Congress)

1 July - 1 October 2024