Call for papers



Canadian Anthropology Society Annual Meeting

16-20 of May, 2018

Universidad de Oriente – Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Drawing on the polyphonic character of contrapunteo­, understood as the interweaving of two or more independent melodies working together to form a rich harmonic texture, we invite participants to reflect on Anthropology’s plural configurations and engagements. There are many types of counterpoints, all expressing forms of polyphonic interdependence in the rhythms and contours of a piece of music. The melodies entangled remain independent, but their combination creates new composites that are continually emergent and transforming. A “contrapuntal anthropology” (Ong 1996:84) encourages the multiplicity of voices, the postcolonial deconstruction of knowledge, and the polyphony of social and cultural life. Counterpoints allow for the exploration of assemblages, relationalities and entanglements (Ingold 2011). The intertwining of elements in counterpoint is not always harmonious: the more antagonistic sense of counterpoint suggests something that is placed against something else. Contrapunteo offers new channels to hear voices of contestation, acknowledge the traces left by colonialism, and recognize what is being articulated in reply, such as resurgent struggles of resistance and healing. To “think contrapuntally” (e.g. Howes 1996; Catauro since 1999) can hold voices in tension or conflict, and can generate choruses of call-and-response. CASCA-CUBA wishes to address how contrapunteo can offer new avenues to understand relationships, knowledge, history and power. Has the discipline of Anthropology nurtured particular counterpoints and if so, what are their trajectories?

In Cuba, contrapunteo takes on a particular meaning. It was a key metaphor used by ethnographer Fernando Ortiz (1881-1969) in Contrapunteo cubano, published in 1940, to explore how Cuban identity – cubanidad –emerged through transculturación between two main crops associated with Cuba’s colonial history –tobacco and sugar. The conference poster, created by Cuban artist Lawrence Zuñiga, draws on the ajiaco (stew made of leftovers), a metaphor adopted by Ortiz to express the richness of Cuban culture created by different ingredients amalgamating to produce new flavours, new experiences. In Cuba, contrapunteo often means a “dispute, a spicy and heated saying, a proverb or a conversation between two or more people” (Pichardo 1875), while the verb contrapuntear refers to the act of dialogue and conversation. The idea of counterpoint, borrowed from music theory and applied metaphorically to Cuban culture by Ortiz, is one we wish to explore during CASCA-CUBA.

In extrapolating from Ortiz’s work and career, we take a direct stand on the presence and also the absence or silencing of voices, languages, and ways of doing (e.g. Barnet 1968). We acknowledge the importance of taking a critical approach to historical, colonial and postcolonial influences in anthropology, and we recognize the emergence of contrasting ontologies. Ortiz, a white man of Spanish descent who was born in Cuba and studied in Europe initially espoused biological determinism. His early work represented the ubiquitous racism of the period, and contributed to the objectification of Afro-Cuban practices. Yet as he reached mid-career, Ortiz began to embrace a radical humanist and activist approach, leading to an impressive transformation in his thought, which can be seen in Contrapunteo cubano, among other publications. Ortiz sponsored the first ethnographic conference on the music of Santería (1936) and founded the Sociedad de Estudios Afrocubanos (Society of Afro-Cuban Studies) and its journal. More than a detached observer, Ortiz became a member of at least one Afro-Cuban religious group (Palmié 2013:88). Although it remains difficult to situate Ortiz’s oeuvre, he is certainly considered one of the founders of modern sociocultural anthropology in Latin America. His work on transculturacíon and mestizaje reached an audience beyond Cuba, as suggested by his correspondence with Malinowski and his significant contribution to postcolonial studies (e.g. Said 1993).

We encourage anthropological framing of our entangled encounters, where we articulate our many selves – a polyphony of personhood – simultaneously and from our distinct points of view.

The CASCA-CUBA contributions might address some of the following themes:

  • Assemblage and other compositional models: How are elements enlaced and entangled? How can we understand connections, attachments, and by extension, ruptures and dissonances?
  • Relation: How can we engage with relationality and what are the different types of relationalities?
  • Voice: How are voices projected, joined together, marginalized, or integrated? What are the challenges of considering voices in polyphony? How are other voices heard? Which ones are silenced?
  • Boundary: How do we engage politically and creatively within and across boundaries? How can we explore new methodological and theoretical horizons? How can we expand or transcend the boundaries of our work?
  • Body: How are bodies expressed and performed? What material or intangible entities do they converse with or come up against? What are the affective traces and displays that come into being, remain or dissipate in counterpointed encounters?
  • Epistemology: What epistemological continuities and shifts are we witnessing in anthropological and ethnographic practices? What are the challenges of conducting research in present times? How do we know what we know here and now?
  • Sharing and exchange: How can we define the space of encounter between participants? How is our work shared and disseminated? If our work is a gift, how is it received and reciprocated?

We look forward to learning from all the CASCA-CUBA participants, and especially from our Cuban colleagues who are welcoming us in Santiago de Cuba at the Universidad de Oriente, an institution that will celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2018.


 Barnet, Miguel. 1968. Biografía de un Cimarrón. Barcelona: Ediciones Ariel.

Catauro: Revista Cubana de Antropología. La Habana: Fundación Fernando Ortiz.

Howes, David. 1996. “La constitution de Glenn Gould: Le contrepoint et l’État canadien.” In Le droit soluble: Contributions québécoises à l’étude de l’internormativité, edited by Jean-Guy Belley. Paris: Librairie Générale de Droit et de Jurisprudence.

Ingold, Tim. 2011. Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description. New York: Routledge.

Ong, Aihwa. 1996. “Anthropology, China and Modernities: The Geopolitics of Cultural Knowledge.” In The Future of Anthropological Knowledge, edited by Henrietta L. Moore. New York: Routledge, p. 60-92.

Palmié, Stephan. 2013. The Cooking of History: How Not to Study Afro-Cuban Religion. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Pichardo, Estéban. 1875. Diccionario Provincial casi-razonado de vozes cubanas. Habana: Imprenta La Antilla.

Said, Edward. 1993. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Knopf.

Proposal Submissions

CASCA-CUBA invites different types of proposals and strongly encourages panels and symposia that will bring together Cuban and non-Cuban presenters from a variety of academic and non-academic backgrounds.

Organizers of panels, symposia, or roundtables may wish to advertise their session and find presenters through the CASCA list-serve and posting on the Conference Classifieds on the CASCA website at

Conference participants are limited to presenting one paper at CASCA-CUBA. However, there is no limit on the number of other roles per participant, such as, discussant, panel chair, organizer, and round-table participant. Note: discussants can register as a ‘paper as part of a panel’ and then add a comment that they are acting as discussant.

90-minute panels
Panels will be composed of 4 to 5 presentations, followed by a discussion. Please do not include more than 4 presentations should a formal discussant be invited. The panel organizer should provide a 100 to 150 word abstract describing the theme of the proposed panel or symposia and include a list of the participants (including, the chair and the discussant).

15-minute papers

Individual proposals accepted by the 2018 conference program committee will be organized into thematic sessions. The submission for an individual paper will be done using the ’15 minute paper’ category on the form and must include the presentation title, abstract (of 100 to 150 words), keywords, and co-authors (if applicable). If you are part of an organized panel or symposium, please submit using the ‘panel and/or paper as part of a panel, discussants and non-presenting chairs’ submission category on the conference form, there you will also provide the name of the organizer and title of the panel. If you are a panel or symposium organizer, please provide an abstract describing the proposed panel or symposia and list the participants.

Symposia will be composed of at least 2 panels of 90 minutes each, back to back in the same location (as scheduling permits). The symposium organizer should provide a 100 to 150-word abstract describing the theme of the proposed symposium, and a list of participants (including the chair and the discussant/s).

Round-tables will be 90 minutes in length, addressing a specific theme or issue to be submitted by the organizer of the round-table. The roundtable organizer should include a 100-150 word abstract describing the theme and include a list of 3 confirmed participants (minimum) and the chair. Round-table participants must submit short abstracts or talking points (up to 100 words) and go through the regular registration process, filling in the appropriate fields of the round-table participation form.

Chairs’ Breakfast

CASCA will host a Department Chairs’ Breakfast at the conference. This is an excellent opportunity to discuss the future of anthropology in Canada, the challenges departments face, and strategies to overcome them, as well highlighting successes. All Chairs of Canadian departments or their delegates are welcome to attend. The conference registration form will have a checkbox to indicate intention to participate in the ChairsBreakfast.

Graduate students

Graduate students returning from the field and/or having collected first-hand research material are invited to apply to the conference.   We also welcome in-depth and advanced analytical works by PhD students. Please note that conference papers should not consist of a course-based project, and the conference does not accept panels with only student participants.


Presentations can be done in any of the three CASCA-CUBA official languages: English, French and/or Spanish. CASCA-CUBA encourages panels with presenters from different linguistic backgrounds. However, please note that it will not be possible to offer simultaneous translation for all panels.

Student poster presentations

Undergraduate honours and MA students are encouraged to present a poster summary of their research projects and findings. Abstracts for poster presentations should be up to 100 words. For more information, please write to

Student Travel Grant
The Canadian Anthropology Society makes available a limited number of travel grants to attend the annual conference. The awards are available to doctoral students registered in Canadian Anthropology departments only. This year, given the special travel circumstances, CASCA will commit more than usual to the Student Travel Bursary fund, but please consider supporting this too by making a donation. All donations to this fund go entirely to the Student Travel Bursaries.


Panels, papers, roundtables and symposia submission deadline: November 17, 2017

Undergraduate and MA poster presentations submission deadline: February 1, 2018

Paper acceptance notification date: January 2018

Registration for non-Cubans (and Cubans non-resident in Cuba), please follow the links on our registration page.

Registration of Cuban nationals (living in Cuba), please email your abstract to this address: NAUTA email address will be provided soon.

For more information, please contact: