Calls for Papers

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— Extended deadline: October 16, 2023 —

Special issue (2024)

No(w) Future! The Ethnographic Inquiry, David Graeber, and Us

Questionning the practice of political anthropology

The review
Condition humaine / Conditions politiques is launching a call for contributions in the context of a special issue on David Graeber’s political anthropology. Starting from David Graeber’s work on this subject, we would like to question the manyfold ontologies of “power”, inside and outside the discipline. We begin with the problem of “power” in its emic conceptualizations, before shifting our focus towards a reflexive and critical perspective. How do our inquiries contribute to the reinforcement or revision of our own apprehensions of what “power” really “is”? We seek to understand how the latter oscillates between simplicity and complexity by relating them to the prominent place taken by the anthropology of capitalism in recent years. This stream of research was enriched by forms of questioning stemming from the study of political alternatives. David Graeber’s contributions in this respect were important within the discipline. How have new modes of problematization of “the economy” and/or “politics” affected the ways anthropologists conceive of “capitalism”? What are the contributions and limits of these modes of problematization? How does anthropology understand the development of such “alterpolitics”, without giving in to radical enchantment and/or disenchantment in its investigations? These are the issues we look for in submissions to this Special Issue.

This call primarily questions the prescriptive and epistemological dimension of ethnographic practice when it comes to political anthropology. Ethnographic practice is often intertwined with political processes of subjectivation from which neither the anthropologist nor his or her respondents escape. We can’t understand David Graeber’s interest in the impact of political-financial structural reforms during his fieldwork in the village community of Betafo, for example, without situating it in the context of his own trajectory as an anti-globalization activist and proponent of “direct action” (Graeber, 2009). Thus the notion of “temporary provisional zone” echoes with Hakim Bey’s theories on “temporary autonomy zones”.

It is through the process of induction and the reality of the field that some researchers have rethought the analytical categories of identity construction, such as gender (Rebucini, 2013) or work (Monjaret, 2011; 2020). This is also true for politics, or economics (Heintz, 2021). For example, David Graeber’s alterglobalist trajectory is linked to a renewed interest in the history of capitalism, conceived in a global perspective, to shed new light on our present. A good example lies in his work on the history and anthropology of debt, which leads him to redefine this notion, in the footsteps of Marcel Mauss and by mobilizing contemporary contributions of economic anthropology, as a relationship between putative equals temporarily marked by the creation of forms of hierarchy (Graeber, 2011). From Graeber’s perspective, the central interest of ethnography was therefore to foster reflexive work on our categories and concepts (Graeber and Da Col, 2011).

This type of work is thus, for the investigator, part of a horizon of renewal of the relationship to the political field, as well as of the language used to describe it, in which the researcher can feel confined and perhaps from which he wishes to free himself/herself. This horizon extends from alter-activism (Pleyers, 2016a; 2016b), which includes the ecological posture of those who are concerned about global warming by resisting through alternative modes of production and consumption, to alterpolitics, which deconstructs the classics of political anthropology by starting from the individual subjectivities at work in social movements (Boni and Ciavolella, 2015). These alterpolicies are not immune to skepticism and controversies, regarding their possibilities of realization, or the realities they claim to transform, and whose presumed “otherness” is reified by sometimes contestable (and/or contested) spokespersons.

Undoubtedly, “the economy” and “capitalism” have become today—notably because of the importance taken on by the search for alternative forms of thought—central concepts to be questioned and reworked by anthropologists, confronted with a multiplication of “crises” and “catastrophes”. The attribution of responsibilities and purposes of such events becomes a major political issue (Roitman, 2014). The Anthropocene and/or the Capitalocene thus seem to be catchwords containing all the causes of the past, present and future misfortunes of humans and non-humans, caught in the grip of the “politics of survival” (Abélès, 2006). These transformations question the forms according to which, during our investigations, the relationships of possession and dispossession, of taking and taking away, of power and powerlessness are woven into the fabric of space and time—as much from the point of view of the investigator as from the point of view of those with whom we are conducting the investigation. At what point do these upheavals, which question the nature of the transitions/revolutions actually at work, disempower the investigator? Are “ethnographic alternatives” really necessary?

This call therefore aims to analyze the impact of the renewal of the history and anthropology of capitalism and its alternatives. We seek to create a space for debate around the importance of this renewal of the study of capitalism, which has permeated all social sciences since their foundation (Beaujard, Berger and Norel, 2009). Does anthropology have the sole function of opening and enriching the realm of the possible? If so, how can we envisage the study of these emergences
in situ, if not as a work of enchantment and/or radical disenchantment? Is “There is (no) alternative”, to paraphrase Margaret Thatcher, the final word in/of anthropology? How does the coupling of crisis/(no)alternative come to transform the ontologies of “power” and its flip side, powerlessness, from the point of view of the individuals and collectives we investigate? How are these issues, and their overcoming, confronted by the researchers who participate in this research arena, and how do we approach them from a reflexive perspective?

Proposals for contributions related to these questions are expected in the form of an
abstract of about 3,000 characters (Word or LibreOffice document), with a short bibliography, by October 16, 2023.

They should include the author’s name, professional affiliation, and email address, and be addressed to,, and, with “CH/CP – The Ethnographic Inquiry, David Graeber and Us” in the subject line. They will receive a response in early November 2023.

Full papers (25,000 to 40,000 characters, including notes and bibliography) must be original and unpublished, conform to the standards of the journal as indicated on its website ( and accompanied by a long abstract (3,000 to 4,500 characters), in French and English. They must be submitted by March 12, 2024 at the latest.

Scientific coordination: Olivier Coulaux (EHESS, LAP) and Aurélia Gualdo (EHESS, LAP).

Indicative bibliography

ABÉLÈS Marc, Politique de la survie, Paris, Flammarion, 2006.

BEAUJARD Philippe, BERGER Laurent and NOREL Philippe (dir.), Histoire globale, mondialisations et capitalisme, Paris, La Découverte, 2009.

BONI Stefano and CIAVOLELLA Riccardo, “Aspiring to Alterpolitics. Anthropology, Radical Theory, and Social Movements”, Focaal [Online], no. 72, 2015, “Theme Section: Inspiring Alterpolitics”, URL :

DA COL Giovanni and GRAEBER David, “The Return of Ethnographic Theory”, HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory [Online], vol. 1, no. 1, 2011, p. vi-xxxv, URL :

GRAEBER David, Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value: The False Coin of Our Own Dreams, New York, Palgrave, 2001.

GRAEBER David, Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology, Chicago, Prickly Paradigm Press, 2004.

GRAEBER David, Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire, Oakland, Edinburgh, AK Press, 2007.

GRAEBER David, Lost People: Magic and the Legacy of Slavery in Madagascar, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2007.

GRAEBER David, Direct Action: An Ethnography, Edinburgh, Oakland, AK Press, 2009.

GRAEBER David, Revolution in Reverse: Essays on Politics, Violence, Art and Imagination, London, New York, Port Watson, Minor Compositions, 2011.

GRAEBER David, Debt: The First 5,000 Years, Brooklyn, Melville House, 2011.

GRAEBER David, “Dead Zones of the Imagination: On Violence, Bureaucracy, and Interpretive Labor. The Malinowski Memorial Lecture, 2006”, HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, vol. 2, no. 2, 2012, p. 105-128.

GRAEBER David, “Anthropology and the Rise of the Professional-Managerial Class”, HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, vol. 4, no. 3, 2014, p. 73-74.

GRAEBER David, The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy, Brooklyn, Melville House, 2015.

GRAEBER David, La démocratie aux marges, Paris, Flammarion, 2018.

GRAEBER David, Bullshit Jobs, Paris, Les Liens qui libèrent, 2019.

GRAEBER David and SAHLINS Marshall David, On Kings, Chicago, Hau Books, 2017.

HEINTZ Monica, The Anthropology of Morality. A Dynamic and Interactionist Approach, London, New York, Routledge, 2021.

MONJARET Anne, “Du bleu de chauffe au jean : les jeux de l’apparence des ‘ouvriers’ à l’hôpital, entre traditions corporatistes et normes institutionnelles renouvelées”, Sociologie et sociétés, vol. 43, no. 1, 2011, “Pour une sociologie de la mode et du vêtement”, p. 99-124.

MONJARET Anne, La pin-up à l’atelier. Ethnographie d’un rapport de genre, Ivry-sur-Seine, Creaphis, 2020.

PLEYERS Geoffrey, “Engagement et relation à soi chez les jeunes alteractivistes”, Agora Débats/Jeunesses [Online], vol. 1, no. 72, 2016, p. 107-122, URL :

PLEYERS Geoffrey, “De la subjectivation à l’action. Le cas des jeunes alter-activistes”, in PLEYERS Geoffrey and CAPITAINE Brieg (dir.), Mouvements sociaux : quand le sujet devient acteur, Paris, Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme, 2016, p. 27-47.

REBUCINI Gianfranco, “Masculinités hégémoniques et ‘sexualités’ entre hommes au Maroc. Entre configurations locales et globalisation des catégories de genre et de sexualité”, Cahiers d’Études africaines [Online], no. 209-210, 2013, p. 387-415, URL :

ROITMAN Janet, Anti-crisis, Durham, London, Duke University Press, 2014.



Call for Papers – Varia

The journal Condition Humaine / Conditions politiques is issuing a call for papers to be published in its “Varia” (miscellaneous) section. These substantial articles may explore a wide array of issues, topics or themes, primarily in political anthropology, and should be 25,000- to 45,000-character-long.

They are to peer-reviewed, and if submitted to the journal before the end of June 2022, may be published from the journal issue 5, due to be available on line at the beginning of 2023.

Articles should be sent to the following address: [at], and comply with the author’s guidelines.

Do not hesitate to circulate this call.



A New Journal in Political Anthropology

Call for Papers

Supported by the IIAC, Condition humaine / Conditions politiques was launched in December 2020 by a group of researchers based in France. This new journal proposes to develop and disseminate French and international research devoted to anthropological insights into politics in today’s world.

Condition humaine / Conditions politiques aims to mobilize and implement the methods, approaches and concepts of political anthropology. It is grounded in the ethnographic method, in anthropological and historical knowledge, both in remote and close spaces, and in anthropological comparison. Its disciplinary territories overlap with those of other social sciences and humanities, historical and political sciences.

For more information

Condition humaine / Conditions politiques is a French biannual multilingual journal. The journal hosts articles in French, English, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.

All the articles must include a long abstract of 3,000 to 4,500 characters, in English and in French.

The Journal comprises five sections. We welcome authors’ contributions to the Journal’s following sections: Reshaping categories, Turbulences, Varia, Current Debates, and Reviews and Interviews. Submissions to the first three sections will be especially welcome.


  • Reshaping categories, reflecting on theoretical practices
    This section analyzes the circulation of theories and categories in between the various disciplines dealing with the political (as an) object of scrutiny. The aim is to apprehend the current renewal of political anthropology through an in-depth conversation between the theory and the field.
    (Papers are to be 25,000 to 40,000 characters.)

  • Turbulences
    This section intends to account for the points of disruption, semantic shifts and muddling of categories that arise in media debates nowadays and deserve particular attention from those committed to scientific and civic engagement.
    (Papers are to be around 15,000 characters.)

N.B. : Here are a few examples of topical, controversial issues that may inspire articles to s ‘Turbulences’ and ‘Reshaping categories’ :
— ‘Racism’, ‘State racism’ and ‘Anti-racism’ ;
— ‘Universal’, ‘Creolization’ and ‘Métissage’ ;
— ‘Beyond Intersectionality ?’ ;
— ‘Genesis, uses and misuses of a category : what is islamo-leftism ?’ ;
— ‘Thinking the gap : from anthropological decentering to historical anachronism’, etc.

A set of articles on categories, theories, and topical issues subject of scientific debate and controversy may be proposed for publication in the Current Debates Section (see below).

  • Varia
    This section will feature articles focusing primarily on political anthropology , as well as papers on visual arts, musics, litterature, etc.
    (Articles shall range from 25,000 to 45,000 characters.)

  • Current Debates
    This section focuses on specific issues, practices or geographical areas.
    Multidisciplinarity is welcome.
    (Articles shall be 25,000 to 40,000 characters.)

  • Reviews and Interviews
    This section welcomes reviews on books (15,000 characters) and Interviews (15,000 to 35,000 characters) with prominent protagonists in the field of political anthropology.

Instructions to authors