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Disorder – Symposium and Exhibition

The Sydney anthropology Symposium this year addresses the theme of disorder. As observers and analysts of the social, there is a tendency for anthropologists to look for underlying orders in the sometimes puzzling phenomena we encounter in the field. This Symposium asks whether the enduring reality might, in fact, be disorder and what the implications of this might be for our practice. We also ask how the concept of disorder works in the social worlds we observe: how marginal people are understood as pathologically disordered, for instance, or the impact diagnoses of political and economic disorder have on what we conceive of as probable, possible or permissible. 

EP01We are excited to announce the Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, as our keynote speaker, with her address “Might Be Something (Again): Order, disorder and the quasi-event.”

Povinelli is renowned for pushing the boundaries of anthropology into philosophy and vice versa. Her most recent work focuses of the governance of the otherwise in Late Liberalism and the fracturing of everyday worlds through what she calls quasi-events. She has published four books, the most recent Economies of Abandonment (Duke, 2011) and numerous essays. She is also a member of the Karrabing Film Collective.

Povinelli’s address joins an exciting program of speakers, performances and an adjacent artistic rendering of the theme of disorder to be held at Verge gallery (more info).

Registrations are now open, and we encourage broad participation from within anthropology and beyond for a lively exchange.

Featured Speakers

We are delighted to announce our confirmed featured speakers for the Disorder Symposium:


Gillian Cowlishaw (University of Sydney)

Greg Downey (Macquarie University)

Chris Gregory (ANU and University of Manchester)

Jonathan Marshall (University of Technology Sydney)

Kalpana Ram (Macquarie University)

Glenn Petersen (Baruch College, City University of New York)



For more information on the speakers, titles and abstracts, please click here



Verge Gallery is looking for artists working in any medium to take part in an exhibition on the theme of Disorder to coincide with an anthropological symposium on the same topic. The exhibition will be curated by artist, Peter Annand.

Patterns, orders, repetition, sequences and algorithmic-basedprogressions are all common elements of art both in technique and subject matter. There can be a satisfaction and elegance to artworks that exemplify this orderliness. Disorder, on the other hand, can be a challenging theme. Disorder can threaten established relationships and perceptions, yet it can also offer the chance for new concepts and creations. How can disorder be represented in art? Do all disorders eventually fall into some kind of ordering scheme? And is order, like proverbial beauty, actually in the eye of the beholder?

Using notions of order and disorder, this show aims to graphically (and perhaps aurally) illustrate this age-old tension.

Submissions for the exhibition will be closing on September 1 and the exhibition will be on between October 29-November 5.

On the opening night we plan to have a panel discussion between Peter Annand (curator), Greg Shapley (Verge Gallery Manager), participating artists, and anthropologists about the works included in the exhibition.

If you would like to get involved in this exhibition please email g.shapley@usu.edu.au with a paragraph addressing Order and Disorder and up to three images of your work (or a link to a sound/video recording) by September 1, 2014.

Final Week of Early Bird Registration


this is the final week of our early bird registration. On Monday 7 July the standard rate will come into effect.

Hurry and use this great opportunity to register for the lower rates. Just click on the registration tab on our webpage.

Category Early bird: Tue 2 April – Sun 6 July Standard: Mon 7 July – Sun 26 October
Fully waged 150.00 190.00
Concession 80.00 110.00
Student 50.00 60.00
Dinner 55.00 55.00