We live in an increasingly complex social world. The spread of what some scholars broadly refer to as ‘globalization’ has contributed to this complexity. Identities, networks, and communities have apparently become so fluid, interconnected, and yet diverse, that it is often difficult to negotiate the boundaries between them.
This complexity has arguably rendered conventional categories for the study of human societies inadequate. The usefulness of analytical categories like ‘community, ‘society’, ‘culture’, and even ‘globalization’, is now very debatable. ‘Traditional’ methods of social inquiry themselves have at times revealed obsolete. An increasing number of anthropologists have for instance abandoned single-sited fieldwork for the investigation of certain social phenomena.
A more sensible approach to the study of these phenomena may require tools that belong to disciplines other than anthropology and sociology, like geography, political science, media studies, etc. The investigation of issues that are inevitably entangled in politics additionally requires scholars to take a firm political stance – one that our disciplines often leave us unprepared to take.
Whilst we recognize that anthropology and sociology have always engaged with highly complex – and intrinsically political – social realities, we therefore feel that numerous questions are left unaddressed. The International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) Inter-Congress 2015 proposes precisely to look into these issues, by encouraging all participants to re-imagine the future of anthropology and sociology – theoretically, methodologically, and politically, within as well as beyond the conventional boundaries of these disciplines.