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Life Support AAS2022, Deakin University 23-26 November


The Australian Anthropology Society's 2022 conference invites panels and papers that respond to the notion of 'Life Support'. This theme draws our attention to the principles, processes, activities, and ideologies of humans and non-humans who variously foster, care for, legitimise, frustrate, and explicitly reject particular forms of life. 'Life support' is ambivalent. It evokes the discipline's focus on mutually-constituted lived experience, and the ethical drive of many disciplinary practitioners to work in support, advocacy, and activism, as well as the status of the discipline as one in search of a thriving future. Through this theme we invite panels, papers, events, provocations and performances that explore the strengths, gaps and frailties of anthropology as a practice, a discipline, a legacy, a strategy, a tool, a trope, and as a life.

'Life Support' evokes the institutions and technical apparatus that are increasingly necessary for survival at a range of scales, from the microscopic to the global. It suggests processes and situations at their beginnings and ends, the etiology of triage, entropy and palliative care, of birth, (re)creation and transubstantiation. Contributors may consider:

  • What constitutes life, and support for or harm to life, and who is positioned and empowered to be involved in determining such questions;
  • Topics relating to the Covid-19 pandemic, such as vaccine and anti-vaccination policies and politics, the biopolitics of health, risk, triage & blame;
  • Uses and appropriations of narratives of 'race' and 'racism';
  • Supporting and sustaining First Nations-led and collaborative research;
  • Life between and beyond state-sanctioned borders and documents;
  • The end of worlds, including issues of abandoned life, social emptiness, species extinction and conservation;
  • 'Feral' and 'wild' life in times of emergency and pandemic;
  • Activist and collaborative research during an era of 'social distancing';
  • Gender and sex in times of multiplicity and 'post-gender' politics;
  • Violence against LGBTQI+, women and young people;
  • Existential threats, climate change and life beyond Earth.

The theme is intentionally provocative and the conference organisers therefore also welcome contributions that critique ideas of 'life support,' including in relation to their associations with colonial histories of exploitation and pastoral care. We also welcome panels and papers that do not explicitly speak to the theme but reflect research in the field.