The Department of Anthropology presents

“Best Laid Plans: Imagined Futures, Forgotten Pasts, and Unintended Consequences”
The Fifth Annual UC Irvine, Department of Anthropology Graduate Student Conference

April 26-27, 2013
9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Social & Behavioral Sciences Gateway (SBSG), Rooms 1517 & 1511

Conference begins the morning of Friday, April 26th, and ends at noon on Saturday, April 27th.

The Department of Anthropology at UC Irvine invites participation in the fifth installment of our “Anthropology in Transit” conference series, which creatively leverages the extraordinary concentration of cutting-edge anthropological scholarship in California. Anthro in Transit is a graduate student conference that aims to showcase the scholarship of anthropologically-concerned students from across the state. The secondary aim of the conference is to provide a forum for students to make connections with students and faculty from the state’s many anthropology and related departments.

This year’s conference asks the following question: How can we theorize the future as series of artifacts, traces, or dreams from the past? In this conference, we seek to explore--from various disciplinary and thematic perspectives--ways in which planning processes evoke and provoke futures that operate on registers from the imagined to the tangible. The future as an imagined landscape becomes both a canvas for present action and a repository for dreams born in the past. Planning toward such futures involves processes of inclusion and exclusion, specific decisions tied to situated actors and moments in time. We are interested in the consequences of these processes and how plans get framed within broader goals or notions of possible futures. What goes into planning for an unknowable future? As plans come to fruition, succeed, fail, or silently pass by, what past processes and imaginings are rendered invisible by their passing? How can we evaluate the present and future as a series of consequences, intended or otherwise?

We invite papers that engage in questions that are theoretical, methodological, and ethnographic. Of particular interest are questions emerging out of the unintended consequences of our own ethnographic encounters. How might we critically rethink the way our ethnographic projects are designed? And what do we do when what we encounter in the field exceeds the parameters of our carefully planned research?

This year’s conference will take place over a day and a half. The first day is structured as a traditional academic conference with a series of graduate student panels followed by comments by a faculty discussant. The keynote speech will be given by Tom Boellstorff, UCI anthropology professor. The second day will be an opportunity for graduate students to workshop their papers, ideas, concept maps, chapters, or other materials in small, faculty-led groups. We are soliciting papers for the first day, and informal, one-page write-ups about your work, and/or issues you would like to think through.

Sponsored by the School of Social Sciences

Preliminary Conference Schedule

Day 1: Friday, April 26

8:15-9:00 a.m.: Breakfast

9:00-9:15 a.m.: Welcome Keynote with Tom Boellstorff

9:15-10:45 a.m.: Conflicted Interventions: Spaces, Movements, and Futures

Discussant: Kris Peterson, UC Irvine

  • "Resurrecting the Past, Reconstructing the Future: the Restoration of the Habap Fountains" by Anoush Suni, UCLA
  • "Doing Good for the North: Humanitarianism and Militarization in the Aftermath of War in Sri Lanka" by Nalika Gajaweera, UC Irvine
  • "Practically Tactical: Space, Time, and Mobility in the West Bank" by Simone Popperl, UC Irvine
  • "'In his death a new political movement may find life': Cyber Hagiography and Antidiscrimination Law in Chile" by Justin Perez, UC Irvine10:45am-12:00pm: Partial Recognitions: Contesting Policy, Bureaucracy, and State

10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m.: Partial Recognitions: Contesting Policy, Bureaucracy, and State

Discussant: Akhil Gupta, UCLA

  • "'Time is Elastic': (Re)Connecting Home, Race, and History Through Genetic Ancestry Testing" Victoria Massie, UC Berkeley
  • "American Muslim Advocacy: The Future as Moral Technology” by Garrison Doreck, UC Irvine
  • “Temporary Measures: Immigration Law, Transnational Families, and Uncertain Futures” by Caitlin Fouratt, UC Irvine

12:00-1:00 p.m.: Lunch

1:00-2:15 p.m.: Technical Futures: Engineering, Expertise, and Politics

Discussant: Sharon Traweek, UCLA

  • "How the Lines Get Drawn: The Origins of Travel Demand Forecasting" by Cheryl Deutsch, UCLA
  • “Planning and Unplanning Cancún” by Georgia Hartman, UC Irvine
  • "Hacking and/as Political Narrative" by Luis Felipe Murillo, UCLA

2:15-3:30 p.m.: Sedimentary Logics: Infrastructure, Planning, and Law

Discussant: Elana Zilberg, UC San Diego

  • “Mercurial Migrations and Aphrodisiacal Appetites” by Ruth Goldstein, UC San Francisco/UC Berkeley
  • "Projections, Collisions, and Paperwork: The Multiple Logics of Land Claims in Alta California" by Jennifer Henry, UC Irvine
  • "Terrible Futures, Restorative Pasts, and the Impossible Present in Plurinational Bolivia" by Devin Beaulieu, UC San Diego

3:30-3:45 p.m.: Coffee Break

3:45-5:00 p.m.: Imaginative Contingencies: Performing, Dreaming, Exploring

Discussant: Jack Halberstam, USC

  • “Excavating the Imagination: Dreaming and Reverie among Yolmo-Nepali Buddhists in New York City and Kathmandu” by Aiden Seale-Feldman, UCLA
  • "The Art of Routefinding: Imagined Landscapes and the Exploring Subject" by Emily Brooks, UC Irvine
  • "Patriendo la Madre: Borders, Thresholds, and Performances of Crossing Among the Hnahnu Indians of El Alberto" by Michaela Walsh, UC San Diego

5:00-5:30 p.m.: Final Wrap-Up and Discussion

6:00-8:30 p.m.: Dinner at Professor George Marcus’ House

Day 2: Saturday, April 27

9:00-9:30 a.m. - Breakfast
9:30-11:00 a.m. – Paper and Concept Workshops
11:00-11:30 a.m. - Theory/Subject Walks
11:30-12:00 p.m. - Final Wrap Up Discussion

Questions, comments, and submissions should be sent to


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