PARISS Running Themes

Political Anthropological Research on International Social Sciences (PARISS) encourages transversal social inquiries. The journal seeks to transcend disciplinary, linguistic and cultural fragmentations characteristic of scholarship in the 20th century. It aspires to reinvigorate scholarly engagements untroubled by canonic approaches and to provide a space for outstanding scholarship, marginalized elsewhere due to academic conventions. PARISS seeks to promote a plurality of ways of thinking, researching and writing and to give access to contemporary authors in the social sciences coming from non-English-speaking countries. The editors encourage contributions that write across disciplines, academic cultures and writing styles. Innovative and collective research is particularly welcome.

Running Themes

(2020-2023)

We welcome all contributions that provide innovative engagements with social inquiries, particularly those that promote collective research and transcend disciplinary, linguistic and cultural boundaries. For the coming three years (2020-2023), we encourage submissions that engage with the following seven running themes:

1. Politics of Style

The first running theme on the politics of style engages with substantive and stylistic guidelines dictated by English dominant journals in the social sciences and the discriminatory practices they imply. What is at stake is not so much a matter of language as such, as a certain academic style that becomes imbued with presumptions about the meaning of science, elegance, efficiency, and tradition, peculiar to dominant positions. How can the pretence that a language presenting itself as a universal language of reason and aesthetics, which is in fact situated, local, and particularistic, be challenged? What sort of alternative practices can be found in reflexive, postcolonial, and feminist traditions of writing? Starting with a first collective article published in 1(1) on academic writing conventions in the social sciences and practices for disrupting such constrictions on expression, we hope to initiate a conversation, a “disputatio” which will continue in the upcoming six issues 2020-2023, be they in the form of collective responses or individual contributions.

2. Problematizing Transversal Lines and Their Methods

The second running theme is related to the core of the PARISS journal: transversality. How can transversal lines be created between disciplines? How can we travel between and across disciplines, not as a tourist or passer-by but as a multi-sited anthropologist, an international nexialist, an historian of the dynamics of fields of power which first structure the relational positions of actors, and second, account for their trajectories which create encounters, collisions, fragmentations or collusions regarding emergent interests, disinterests, indifference or ignorance on some topics and not others? What has been called transnational or internationalisation by an International Relations colonized by political science must be (re)explored and deepened in order to construct bridges and translations. It calls for a discussion about problematisations, beyond methods, that are powerful enough to create different paths for understanding and writing through transversal lines in a coherent way.

3. Politics of Knowledge and Higher Education

For the running theme on the politics of knowledge and higher education, we seek to publish reflections on the sociology of higher education, the politics of intellectual life and the politics of collective freedom. In recent years, many works have focused on the political economy of higher education and the transformation of pedagogy and research under conditions of neoliberalism, such as the rise of professional administrators and managerialism and the significance of capital in institutional decision-making and the consequences hereof. Starting from these studies, we ask ourselves how it is possible that such a recent system now appears as a necessity for organizing higher education? How is it possible that academic freedom, which works as the condition of pedagogy, has been transformed into the will to serve, to become the best in an arbitrary ranking process, where the academic becomes an employee, a sales-person of an institution of higher learning, employed to sell diplomas? We welcome critical engagement with contemporary politics of higher education that fragment the circulation of knowledge and/or to the contrary promote new ways of circulation. Manuscripts could engage, for example, with practices and reproduction of academic life, transformation of technologies and their impact, capitals and class struggles in the academic space. The analyses can be institution-specific or transnational, and deploy (auto)ethnographic, sociological, historical, post- and decolonial forms of engagement.

4. Social Suffering in the Academic World

Taking inspiration from the book of Pierre Bourdieu Homo Academicus and of the collective work Misère du monde (or The Weight of the World in English), we are proposing a running theme on social suffering in the academic world. In addition to mapping the structural transformations that have remodelled the university as a space of education, knowledge production, and intellectual curiosity, we envision this running theme as a chronicle or living archive of everyday experiences of domination, abjection, exclusion, and exploitation in the ivory tower. From picket line slogans heralded by faculty and students on strike (“Education not Marketization”; “Larger classes, less attention”; “Keats not cuts”; “Our working conditions are your learning conditions”) to negative affirmations that are increasingly employed to describe everyday life in academia (Academia is an exploitative system dependent on the labour of an underpaid, precarious underclass; Academia is an “anxiety machine”), diffuse forms of denunciation and cries of frustration merit attention (and alternative proposals for reasserting pedagogy as the first role of higher education).

In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore with great acuity the destructive toll of neoliberalism and the diffusion of a financialized managerial logic on sectors such as health, education, and agriculture—though not only. From the severe strain put on medical and public health professionals working with limited means, to the realization of many parents now at home with their children that teachers merit greater recognition, to the precarious many whose insecure working conditions privy them from the privilege of being able to work from home, this global pandemic has revived debates about a globalized capitalistic system which prioritizes “cost reductions,” “austerity for public services,” “benefits of online surveillance” and “productivity” over justice, equality, and freedom. We thus see these contradictions between capital and care, between neoliberal managerialism and professional autonomy as reflective of the same struggles taking place in academia, and welcome articles on these topics.

For both themes and their interwoven logics, we would like to see individual papers about the conditions of social suffering of the self, but also of colleagues, of institutional transformations seen from below, some would say from the heart, and from lived experiences. We want to also encourage our formula of collective articles, written under perhaps under pseudonyms, as a way of giving a voice to those who cannot claim alone their forms of suffering because they are often the most fragile in terms of structural positions.

5. Practices of Mobility and Lived Experiences

A fifth running theme engages with the lived experiences of people, placing ontological primacy on liveable lives and situating social worlds as contexts. Be they people on the move, those acting in solidarity with, or against, these travellers or mobile people, or individuals embedded in other sets of relations which cause them to feel (in)secure, this running theme engages ethnographically with such practices, processes and people. Beginning with the ethnographic, theoretical claims are thus empirically based, challenging prefabricated categories of thought and accounts of power.

6. Styles of Governing and Governmentality

On the running theme of styles of governing and forms of governmentality, we welcome contributions that characterize and address distinctive modes of exerting power and control over human populations, be they geographically dispersed or locally concentrated, as well as non-human life forms and material objects. We are notably interested in papers that make transversal connections across political, social, and economic contexts, pushing beyond binary categories that typically order our understanding of the world (i.e. authoritarian/democratic regimes; traditional/modern societies; core/periphery economies). The notions of state of exception, of state of emergency, of derogations towards the rule, of efficiency of the executive as a priority over liberties, have been used and overused, too often as if they were altogether synonymous. We certainly need to deepen the understanding of the practices encapsulated under these different terminologies. A majority using its power to change the rules and oppress minorities (be they political, religious, ethnic or of different nationalities) may not use a state of exception as a form of governing, but they may create authoritarianism. A permanent state of emergency as a way of life in the present societies governed by speed and acceleration, by online data, may transform politics and democratic practices without any state of exception or formal emergency rules. The apology of order, obedience, and transparency of the citizen towards their authorities may challenge democracy and equality, even when these calls for order in the name to protect “populations” seems legitimate. At a time when travel bans have been used to contain migrants and microbes alike, when quantitative reasoning enacts distant and near futures to govern uncertainty in the present, and when global disparities in experiences of violence and inequality have perhaps never been so far and wide, the contemporary moment seems as good a time as any to revisit questions of power and politics entwined in the governance of people and things. Articles on the dynamics of these long transformations, the everyday practices of resistance or of “slowing the machinery” are most welcome but should not be reduced to cases of “liberal democracies”. Moreover, whilst critical approaches to government, governance, and governmentality tend to heed greater analytical weight to the powerful, we invite contributions that adopt a dialectical approach to power and resistance. Thus, we look forward to contributions that engage critique in such a way that not only gives texture to the present order of things, but that also makes space for political, social, and ethical reinvention.

7. Politics of Translation

On the running theme of politics of translation, we welcome contributions that engage with significance of language, translation and by implication culture for analysing contemporary politics of knowledge and academic boundaries. Whilst there is a wealth of research, this knowledge is highly fragmented due to linguistic boundaries. Monolingual research and publication remain largely the norm. What would be effective practices of piecing through linguistic boundaries? How can we promote and ameliorate access to knowledge across linguistic boundaries? Translations can provide new spaces for thought, reflection and political action. In welcoming reflections on translations, we encourage engagements with literature from different countries and languages, including comparative articles, for example, on contemporary concepts coming from languages and dialects from around the world. Translation as a practice implies visions about truth, ignorance, plots and knowledge; questions which are becoming increasingly relevant in a digital world. We therefore welcome interrogations of the politics of these practices and their social effects. But by speaking of translation, we are not limiting our analysis to linguistics, semantics, semiology and their relations to politics, we insist on the fact that translation appears as a dynamic at work any time a process of negotiation and transformation operates from one plan or scape to another one, be it about subject- matters, mediums, thoughts, styles, meanings, as soon as this dynamic is effectively (re)framing our patrimony of dispositions and the enactment of our practices. Political anthropology can be considered itself as a study of the politics of translations.

Submission types

We welcome articles by individuals and collectives as well as short contributions. The general guidelines are as follows, but we are open to any other contributions.

Articles submitted by individuals should be 7,000 – 11,000 words (including footnotes).
Articles submitted by collectives (minimum of three authors), should be 10,000 – 25,000 words (including footnotes).

Short contributions, including book reviews, interviews, fieldnotes, historical primary source material, commentaries and other engagement should be up to 5,000 words.

Multi-media contributions, including visual ethnographic pieces, photography, short films, music and audio pieces.

Submission guidelines

All manuscripts should be submitted to the Editorial Office at parisseditorial@gmail.com or online via the Editorial Manager at: https://www.editorialmanager.com/PARI/default.aspx.

A full journal description, publishing agreement and style guidelines can be found at: https://brill.com/view/journals/pari/pari-overview.xml?lang=en.

For any further questions, please contact the Editorial Office.