Conferences – Call for Papers

Counselling ‘the Vulnerable’

For the Panel No. 8 on the SANT/FAS 2018 conference: Vulnerabilities (Swedish Anthropological Association in partnership with the Finnish Anthropological Society) from 19-21 April in Uppsala, the organizers from the University Konstanz are calling for submissions.

  • Date: 19.04.2018 – 21.04.2018
  • Institution: Swedish Anthropological Association (SANT)
  • Location: Uppsala / Deutschland
  • Documents to: antroetno[at]
  • Contact: pia.maier[at], melanie.brand[at]

Conference 'Vulnerabilities'

Panel 8: Counselling ‘the Vulnerable’
Panel Organisers: Pia Maier, University of Konstanz
Melanie Brand, University of Konstanz


In the last decades, counselling has become a popular tool to treat not only affluent elites, but also those who are commonly referred to as ‘the disadvantaged’ or ‘the vulnerable’ in different settings around the world. Yet, little ethnographic research has been done that would allow to pinpoint individual, social or political effects of counselling in the context of precarious livelihoods. In this panel, the organizers seek to theorize the process, the attribution of meaning, and the hierarchies inherent in counselling initiatives through ethnographic studies. They conceive “vulnerabilities” in counselling, on the one hand, as an emic term taken from the field of counselling and, on the other hand, as an analytical term that captures the counsellors’ act of attributing ‘disadvantage’ and a special neediness to their clients. This, in turn, leads to claims of empowerment and to a certain classification (i.e. as ‘patient’) within the counsellor- client-hierarchy.
The organizers invite theoretical and empirical contributions that focus on (1) the counselling process, especially on how notions of vulnerability influence the counselling encounter, (2) the counsellors’ and/or the clients’ role and performance of identity politics in counselling sessions, (3) the counsellors’ education regarding the treatment, needs, and peculiarities of certain ‘vulnerable’ groups , and (4) on a more structural level, the planning and realization of counselling interventions by the state or NGOs.

Please send an abstract (100-200 words) including the title of your paper, your name(s), institutional affiliation and panel titel to antroetno[at] no later than 16 February 2018. The organizers are looking forward to your contributions!

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