Subject: Deadline Extended 4/13 Discussant: Sharon Traweek // CfP Double Binds in Culture: Thinking, communicating, and playing in "no-win" scenarios - AAA 2017 Meeting

Apologies for cross-posting:

Dear colleagues,

we gladly invite you to submit an abstract until Thursday 13Th to the
panel below for the AAA
2017 conference with discussant Sharon Traweek:

“Double Binds in Culture: Thinking, communicating, and playing in
"no-win" scenarios”

Organized by Lindsay Poirier, Alli Morgan, and Mara Dicenta (Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute).
Double binds have been conceptualized in anthropological literature as
situations where, due to communicative dissonance that emerges from
conflicting injunctions, subjects find themselves positioned in “no-win”
scenarios. According to John Weakland, double binds account for a
“multiplicity and complexity of messages, their interrelations and
reciprocal qualification...taken into account simultaneously” (Weakland
1974: 312). While double binds place subjects in positions where meeting
all demands is impossible, Gregory Bateson and his successors have
argued that learning to endure double binds enables evolutions in
thought and communication, advancing subjects to different levels of
learning or “ecologies of the mind.” Beyond its conceptual utility in
anthropology to explore topics as varied as advocacy in complex global
systems (Fortun 2001), indigenous sovereignty (Catellino 2012), and
humanitarian activity (Redfield 2012), Bateson's double bind has also
been leveraged to do theoretical and practical work in various fields.
The concept has been used as a therapeutic technique in clinical
psychotherapy treatment (Erickson and Rossi 1975, Weakland 1979),
performance studies (Peterson and Langellier 1982), and analyses of the
Anthropocene (Eriksen and Schober 2016) This panel extends these
conceptualizations to consider how double binds can be sites of
transformative learning, produce conditions for evolutions in thinking,
meaning-making, and practice, and provoke emergent cultural forms. We
are accepting papers that address questions such as:

• Under what conditions do double binds arise in contemporary contexts
beyond the clinic?
• How do subjects think about, with, or against the experience of being
doubly bound?
• How do double binds enable and constrain the emergence of new forms of
communication, work, and play?
• How can anthropologists contribute to thinking about how to
pedagogically promote an “aesthetic education” (Spivak 2012) - one which
aims to “short-circuit” habits and cultivate a sensibility for
creatively enduring double binds?
• How can experimental ethnographic methodologies help to identify,
describe, and understand the role of double binds in culture?

Please submit 250 word abstracts to Lindsay Poirier (,
Alli Morgan ( or Mara Dicenta ( Sunday,
April 9, 2017.

The AAA 2017 conference will take place in Washington, DC, between
November 29 and December 3. See more at:

Bateson, Gregory. 1972. Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in
Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology. University of
Chicago Press.
Cattelino, Jessica. 2012. “The Double Bind of American Indian Need-Based
Sovereignty.” Cultural Anthropology 25 (2): 235–63.
Eriksen, Thomas Hylland, and Elisabeth Schober. 2016. “Economies of
Growth or Ecologies of Survival?” Ethnos 0 (0): 1–7.
Erikson, Milton, and Ernest L. Rossi. 1975. “Varieties of Double Bind.”
American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 17 (3): 143–57.
Fortun, Kim. 2001. Advocacy after Bhopal: Environmentalism, Disaster,
New Global Orders. University of Chicago Press.
Peterson, Eric E., and Kristin M. Langellier. 1982. “Creative Double
Bind in Oral Interpretation.” Western Journal of Speech Communication 46
(3): 242–52. doi:10.1080/10570318209374083.
Redfield, Peter. 2012. “The Unbearable Lightness of Ex-Pats: Double
Binds of Humanitarian Mobility.” Cultural Anthropology 27 (2): 358–82.
Spivak, Gayatri. 2012. An Aesthetic Education in the Age of
Globalization. Harvard University Press.
Weakland, John H. 1974. “‘The Double-Bind Theory’ By Self-Reflexive
Hindsight.” Family Process 13 (3): 269–77.
———. 1979. “The Double-Bind Theory Some Current Implications for Child
Psychiatry.” Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry 18 (1):
54–66. doi:10.1016/S0002-7138(09)60477-5.
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