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Call for Papers


The 12th Annual CUHK Anthropology Postgraduate Student Forum

Uncertainty and the Everyday


Keynote Speaker: Cheryl Mattingly

(Department of Anthropology, The University of Southern California)


Time: 29-30 Jan 2021

Venue: Online via Shindig


COVID-19 has intensified the uncertainty of everyday life for many around the world. Although uneven distribution of precarity is by no means a new phenomenon, current extreme conditions have exacerbated inequality, insecurity and structural violence, and continue to unmake and remake what counts as the “ordinary”.


From classic ethnographies such as Evans-Pritchard’s research on Azande divination practices to contemporary studies on middle-class parenting anxieties, anthropological work has long focused on the ways people understand and grapple with uncertainty. In turn, these ways, perhaps somewhat paradoxically, come to constitute modalities of “everyday life”. These can be both predictable and unpredictable, normative and iconoclastic, existing across spheres of human life including the political, the professional and the therapeutic.


It is at this complicated relationship between the ordinary and the extraordinary that our online forum aims its focus. How can an investigation of uncertainty shed light on connections between large-scale social changes and domestic life? To what extent is it ethical, desirable or even possible to conceive of ordinariness during times of flux, crisis and injustice? How do race, class, gender, disability and citizenship (or lack thereof) shape the distribution and everyday management of the uncertain? What does it mean for ordinariness to be an achievement or, conversely, a burden?   


Uncertainty serves not only as an anthropological object, but also as a methodological orientation. How are sensibilities of uncertainty during fieldwork productive (or even necessary) for research? What kinds of rhetorical devices can anthropologists deploy to register the uncertainties of a time and place in ethnographic work? We invite papers that work toward answers to these and other related questions in contribution to an anthropology of uncertainty and the everyday.



Encouraged topics and themes include but are not limited to:
  • Morality and Ethics
    Flexible Labor
    Hope and Hopelessness
    Anthropology during COVID-19
    Bodies and Selves
    Narrations and Normalizations of Crisis
    Justice and Inequality
    Archaeology, Economies and Transnational Contacts


    Forum Committee:
    Dong, Qiao Ling Rivka
    Feng, Yuxuan
    Fung, Darren Tsz Hin
    McCall, Robert
    Nie, Youping
    Tan, Yan Zhen Melody
    Thebe, Phillip
    Xie, Xin


    The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Faculty of Arts)

    Department of Anthropology, CUHK