Call for Papers: Solidarity

Solidarity is a key theme today, especially given its widespread failures as well as its numerous and multi-scalar forms, often provoked by current political developments. How can solidarity be described in the era of Brexit, the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States and regressions into exclusive nationalism and authoritarianism, such as in Erdogan’s Turkey or Temer’s Brazil? How is solidarity forged, performed and challenged, from the local to the supra- and transnational, for instance in dealing with the plight of Syrian, Eritrean or Afghan refugees in or at the edges of Europe?

ETNOFOOR invites papers that present anthropological perspectives on solidarity, on Hannah Arendt’s actions in concert, marches against the grain, but also on solidarity’s dashed hopes, and on frightening xenophobic forms of solidarity in the 21st century. We take solidarity to primarily entail a commitment to the struggles of ‘others’ based on a common ground. Simultaneously, solidarity produces ‘selves’ that belong to communities. These constructed rather than given commonalities and group identities emerge from social practices, or rituals, that yield powerful emotions and (re-)affirm social cohesion. Solidarity produces, in the words of Durkheim, collective representations and so functions as an existential resource.

But solidarity need not be analyzed from a purely anthropocentric position. Lines between the ecological, the sacred and the human are blurred easily in solidarity movements, as in recent protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline, where indigenous people supported by (inter)national groups claimed their spiritual as well as political rights as First Nations.

How are these solidarity rituals and actions shaped materially? What are, in the parlance of Birgit Meyer, its ‘sensational forms,’ ways in which visual, aural, and other aesthetic forms are used to speak truth to power, or, as in authoritarian forms of solidarity, to transform power into truth? And, how is solidarity part and parcel of governmental policies of international relevance, on global warming for instance, and of national projects that transform the roles of state and society. An example of the latter is the new ideology of a Dutch ‘participation society’ – announcing the end of the 20th century welfare state – in which people are supposed to take care of each other and as such to take over several ‘welfare functions’ of the state.

In addition, studying solidarity raises questions about anthropologists’ relations to activists and vice versa. How does solidarity between anthropologists and activists work, and what are its consequences for anthropological practice? What are the limits of and the dilemmas that attend solidarity and of solidarity research? We welcome self-critical articles that, for instance, scrutinize Euro-American anthropological prioritizations of some political struggles over others.  What do such prioritizations say about solidarity and about anthropology?

The editors of ETNOFOOR are interested in ethnographic articles addressing these issues, but also welcome theoretical, reflective and methodological explorations related to solidarity research, or papers that result from collaborations between anthropologists and actors involved in solidarity movements outside academia. We invite authors to submit an abstract of no more than 200 words to before April 1st, 2017. The deadline for authors of accepted abstracts to submit their full paper for consideration is June 15th, 2017.


Arendt, Hannah. 1972 [1969]. Crises of the Republic. San Diego, New York, and London: Harcourt Brace & Company.

Durkheim, Emile. 2008 [1912]. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. Trans. Carol Cosman, ed. Mark S. Cladis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Meyer, Birgit. 2012. Mediation and the Genesis of Presence. Towards a Material Approach to Religion. Inaugural Lecture, Utrecht University.

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