Keynote Lecture – João Pina-Cabral, 7th CASA Biennial Conference 2023

7th Biennial Conference of the Czech
Association for Social Anthropology (CASA)


Anthropology in a New Era: A Conjunctural Assessment

Over the past twenty years the conditions for the practice of anthropology as a social science in Europe have yet again changed considerably.  In this conference, I was asked to make an assessment of what are the contemporary conjunctural constraints that mould our practice as anthropologists.  I start by considering the political environment that frames our institutional practices with a view to comparing Portugal and the Czech Republic, on opposite sides of Europe.  Then I go on to propose that we need to be more explicit about the slow and silent erosion of the background assumptions that used to underlie our anthropological thinking throughout the twentieth century.  I propose that, both in methodological and theoretical terms, we are facing today a new anthropological synthesis—using this last word to refer to the broader analytical parameters that frame our discipline.

João Pina-Cabral is Research Professor at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon and Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Kent (UK). He was co-founder and then President of the European Association of Social Anthropologists and of the Portuguese Association of Anthropology. Over the years, his work has dealt with personhood and the family; ethnicity in postcolonial contexts; the relationship between symbolic thought and social power; and ethnographic theory. He carried out prolonged fieldwork in Portugal, southern China (Macau) and northeast Brazil (Bahia). Recent publications include World: an anthropological examination (Chicago, HAU Books 2017,, Transcolonial (Lisbon, ICS 2023) and a series of articles (e.g. Anthropological Theory 26 (3) 2028, 22 (3) 2022; Anthropology Today 34 (2) 2018; HAU 8 (3) 2018, 10 (1) 2020, 11 (1) 2021, 12 (1) 2022; JRAI 25 (2) 2019, 28 (4) 2022; Social Anthropology (30 (1) 2022; Social Analysis 66 (2) 2023; Critique of Anthropology 43 (1) 2023).


João Pina-Cabral

(Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon)


Friday October 6th, 17:00

Room C117

Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University

U Kříže 8, Praha – Jinonice