Graduate Conferences

Graduate student conferences are planned, organized, and presented by graduate students in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. They are two-day interdisciplinary conferences with a wide range of global topics. They are attended by professionals and students from both inside and outside the university.

Uncertainties - A Graduate Student Conference on Risk and Precarity [2014]

Uncertainties is a two-day interdisciplinary conference organized by graduate students in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Events are free and open to the public. The conference will be held Friday, October 10 and Saturday, October 11. Marina Welker, assistant professor of anthropology at Cornell University and author of Enacting the Corporation: An American Mining Firm in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia, will give the keynote address.

We invite applicants to submit an abstract by Friday, July 15, by clicking the Abstract Submission link:  

For more information, please visit our website at or contact While we cannot provide funds for travel, most meals will be included, and free housing may be available with anthropology graduate students.


The Fantastic and the Banal [2013]

Do only masochists relish the thought of dealing with bureaucracies and bureaucrats? Facing the seemingly endless waiting and run-arounds so frequently associated with phone calls and visits to bureaucratic offices, sometimes it seems so. Yet despite - or perhaps because of - the seeming indifference and alienating power of such experiences, bureaucracy can reach into the most intimate spaces of life, from before birth to after death. Human lives are measured at least in part by paper trails and material traces-documents, forms, certificates, photographs, signatures, stamps, and thumb prints. If, as Latour contended, bureaucratic documents are the 'most despised of all ethnographic objects,' then in promoting their significance we risk fetishizing them. Yet that risk-along with the risk of boredom-is one we invite you to take with us as we ask, How can we both understand and challenge the contours of bureaucratic authority? What can bureaucracies tell us about contemporary life? What is at stake in identifying intimacy in bureaucracy?

Ethnography and Biography [2012]

Ethnography and biography constitute distinct yet overlapping modes of representation and analysis. Despite their differing emphases, however, both share a concern with communicating lived experience by writing, narrating, and representing lives. Across the social sciences and humanities, scholars continue to look for new and better ways to write about, understand, and situate the people they study within specific social, historical, political, and economic contexts. At the same time, these scholars seek to better understand and elucidate their own intentions and positions. If, as Michael Herzfeld has argued, the combination of these two genres as 'ethnographic biography' promises to overcome the vexing and ultimately specious divide between individual, socio-cultural and historical domains of experience, how might scholars across diverse fields take advantage of this potential?

States of Belonging [2010]

Belonging is at once comforting and painful, a process and performance of separation and fusion. Etienne Balibar describes "a sense of belonging" as "both what it is that makes one belong to oneself and also what makes one belong to other fellow human beings." Pushing further, Veena Das asks about the consequences involved in social belonging: "If societies hide from themselves the pain which is inflicted upon individuals as prices of belonging, then how do social sciences learn to receive this knowledge?" In this conference on States of Belonging, we hope to tend to experiences, structures, and epistemologies of belonging as involving both sense and consequence.

Memory + Truth [2009]

What is the relationship between memory and truth? Why is one rendering of a past event called "memory," another "history," and a third "truth?" Far from being consigned to the dustbin of history, memory and truth matter in the present, playing political, social, cultural, historical, and cognitive roles in the human search for a meaningful existence. From Halbwachs on, scholars have argued that memory is as social as it is individual; adding to this, anthropologists contend that expressions and experiences of memory, as well as reckonings of truth, are deeply cultural. What overlap is there, we ask, between historical and social truths, and to whom and in what contexts do such resonances or their absence matter?