This year’s ASAA/NZ and SOMAA conferences will be held from 28-30 November 2019 in Whāingaroa (Raglan), Waikato, New Zealand. See below for details about ASAA/NZ 2019 Breaking Boundaries and SOMAA2019 Biomedical Dialogues: Thinking across Bodies and Borderlands.

ASAA/NZ 2019 Conference, 28-30 November, Whāingaroa (Raglan), Waikato, New Zealand

The 2019 ASAA/NZ Conference is convened by Anthropology at the University of Waikato. The conference organising committee members are Fraser Macdonald, Fiona McCormack, and Jacinta Forde.

Conference Theme: Breaking Boundaries

We invite participants in the 2019 ASAA/NZ conference to mobilise the multifaceted concept of ‘boundaries’. Boundaries are the mental resources and material artefacts through which human and non-human lives are ordered, controlled and differentiated. A boundary may be physical, political, economic, territorial, social, administrative, disciplinary, gendered, cultural, ethnic, moral, environmental, linguistic, genetic and more. Seen from any of these perspectives, boundaries are not just static entities but dynamic zones that produce particular kinds of interaction. As sites of social entanglement, boundaries not only separate, distinguish, and discriminate, but they may also, at times, be transgressed, dissolved, and reconfigured through creative agency.

In the contemporary globalised world we are continually forced to remember that while inexorable flows of people and culture contain the possibility for empathetic familiarity, they can equally lead to the hardening, politicisation, and condemnation of cultural boundaries. On the one hand, porous boundaries promote all manner of syncretic permutations; mobile cultural forms are appropriated and contextualised in novel settings and local communities are recognised as being positioned within regional and global spheres of influence. The hardening of boundaries, on the other hand, is suggestive of the militarisation and securitisation of borders, discriminative immigration policies and the entrenchment of moral, ideological and religious fundamentalisms of all stripes. Hardening also points to territorialisation, the extension of new property rights and the carving up of the world’s terrestrial and marine resources, all of which radically challenges pre-existing livelihoods and forms of sociality.

Boundaries equally implicate anthropological theory-making, suggesting the tension between the boundedness of our field-sites and our disciplinary call for comparison. This raises questions concerning how we are to be both area scholars and comparativists at the same time, studying both the particular and the general, the local and the global or the coloniser and the colonised (Nader 2013). In anthropological practice, boundaries may be thought of as bridged through the creation of fieldwork relationships, or transcended through the use of novel methodologies prompting new kinds of ‘commoning’ (Bryers-Brown 2017). Thinking through boundaries pushes us to examine how they are established and undone, delineated and dissolved, or otherwise further hardened and the myriad social forms that may emerge in this process.

Call for Papers

We invite paper abstracts and panel proposals that reflect the conference theme. All abstracts and proposals should be emailed to You can download a pdf version of the call for papers here.

Panel Proposals due 20 September 2019

Please send panel proposals by the deadline of 20 September 2019. These must include:

  • Panel title and 150 word abstract

  • Name of convenor(s)

  • Affiliation

  • Email address

  • Names of any pre-arranged presenters

Paper proposals due 20 September 2019

Paper proposals must include:

  • Paper title and 150 word abstract

  • Name of presenter(s)

  • Affiliation

  • Email address

Conference registration

Early bird registration opens 5 April 2019 and closes October 4 2019. Thereafter the late registration fee will apply. Click here to register.

  • $200 ASAA/NZ member early bird / $230 ASAA/NZ member late registration (faculty, waged ASAA/NZ members)

  • $250 non-member early bird / $280 non-member late registration (faculty, waged)

  • $180 (students, unwaged, retired)

  • $50 conference dinner on the Wahinemoa boat cruise on Whāingaroa harbour


Students enrolled at a NZ university and undertaking an anthropology degree can apply for the ASAA/NZ Kākano Fund for financial assistance to attend the conference. The deadline for applications is 31 May 2019.

For more information about the conference, including keynote speakers and accommodation, visit the conference website:

For all enquiries email:

SOMAA2019 Conference "Biomedical Dialogues: Thinking across Bodies and Borderlands," 28 November, Whāingaroa (Raglan), Waikato, New Zealand

SOMAA2019 is convened by Nayantara Sheoran Appleton, Mythily Meher, and Pauline Herbst. It will take place on 28 November from 8:30am-3:30pm in Whāingaroa (Raglan), Waikato, New Zealand.

Call for Abstracts

As medical anthropologists, we recognise that bodies—both biological or institutional—are porous. The material, transcendental potential of biomedical porosity deepens when placed alongside conversations on spaces in-between—on borderlands—and this compels us to rearticulate borders, boundaries, subjectivities and medical porosity. Drawing on Gloria E. Anzaldúa’s generative rendering of borderlands (even those designated as zones of exclusion) as spaces of hybridity and possibilities, we seek papers that articulate bodies, medicine and medical practices both in borderlands, but also as borderlands. To imagine biomedicine in and as a borderland allows us to stage conversations on medical agentive possibilities and structural limitations in radically plural terms: to be continually becoming, to be one thing then another and then both, to be subjectively liminal, to be ontologically uncertain. To live and negotiate in and from medical borderlands makes visible the hybridity of experiences and articulations of bodies in biomedicine. Thinking with biomedical borderlands might enable enlivened understandings, and even re-imaginings, of justice, morphology, resistance, morality and coercion in these sites. We encourage submissions that are empirically grounded and intellectually diverse. We are particularly keen to hear student voices as part of this dialogue. We are also keen on submissions that are creative and experimental in the way they engage with medical bodies and borderlands.

A Note on the Experimental Format - Dialogues

The 2019 SOMAA hui is organized into six dialogues, that is 12 people will get to present their work. Instead of presenting in a standard conference format, each dialogue will comprise two people each presenting their work for 10 minutes while also reflecting/engaging with their paired scholar’s work. This experimental format is a way to encourage conversations amongst the SOMAA community not just on the day, but before and after (with the possibility of publication which the organizers are currently coordinating).

To ground our meeting in dialogues is a two-pronged effort to disrupt academic hierarchies. For one, we wish to make space for difference by steering away (even if momentarily) from the panel and discussant model. Second, we believe the dialogues offer for a rigorous conversation between two people – as equals, with equal weight to their knowledge(s) and histories. SOMAA has been instrumental in making us think creatively about/with/through medical anthropology. The dialogues are a continuation of SOMAA’s creative pushing back to the normative and generating collaborative modes through which to think, write, engage, and dialogue about medical anthropology in/of/from Aotearoa New Zealand.

Submission Details

Please email your abstracts of no more than 150 words by July 15th, 2019. You can submit individual abstracts and we will coordinate to find another scholar (based on their abstract) for your ‘Dialogue.’ You will then work with this person over a two-month period (sharing work prior to November hui). We will provide additional details once the abstracts are paired. You are also encouraged to submit as a pair (with two separate abstracts – but identifying the pairing).

Email abstracts to: AND AND

For all questions or clarifications, please email Nayantara Sheoran Appleton, Mythily Meher, and Pauline Herbst at the email address above.