Conference ‘Navigating Change’

We are pleased to announce our anniversary conference ‘Navigating Change’ which will take place on June 27-28, 2023, at Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

This conference is organised by the Department of Anthropology and Development Studies (ADS) in honor of the 75th anniversary of Cultural Anthropology and the 50th anniversary of Development Studies at Radboud University. The conference will focus on global issues that challenge and transform common understandings and practices of change.

Read the description of the main theme of the conference (pdf, 103 kB), with the description of three ‘streams’ that we will organise:

  • Change as Undoing
  • Changing Institutions from Below, and
  • Environmental Change: From Crisis to Care.

Submit an abstract

Everyone interested in participating is invited to submit an abstract (150-200 words, with your name and affiliation) to by March 31, with a reference to the specific stream in which your paper would fit best. Our conference committee will review your abstract and contact you shortly afterwards (within 14 days). Registration is free of charge.

Key note speakers

Keynote speeches will be delivered by:

We hope to see many of you in Nijmegen in June and look forward to an inspiring conference.

Key note speakers

Christian Lund

An Air of Legality. Legalization under conditions of rightlessness in Indonesia

Picture of Christian Lund WebsiteLand rights are uneven in Indonesia as they favor government over citizens as rights subjects. Moreover, legal complexity and social inequality make legal knowledge about land rights rather inaccessible to small-scale farmers and the urban rank and file. Finally, the presumption of legality enables government institutions to acquire land and establish land control even if juridical settlements have been made against it. Despite these three forms of rightlessness, law and legalization are important for ordinary people who experiment and improvise to legalize their claims. And, crucially, such manufacture and persuasion of legality can have the effect of law.

Christian Lund is a Professor in the Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen ( He is the author of Law, Power, and Politics in Niger (1998), Local Politics and the Dynamics of Property in Africa (2008) and Nine-Tenths of the Law. Enduring Dispossession in Indonesia (2020).

Noëlle Aarts

Better dialogue in a better world

Picture of Noëlle Aarts for WebsiteThese days, we share a world troubled by complex problems such as climate change, biodiversity decline and finite fossil fuels. To solve these problems, numerous conversations are held daily between numerous stakeholders in numerous contexts. Research shows how these conversations rapidly result in increasing polarisation. Instead of being interested in perspectives and ideas of people who think differently we immediately try to convince the other of our own right. In my contribution, I will outline a number of patterns that make conversations between dissenters more often leading to a greater distance rather than to rapprochement. Based on this analysis, I will gradually work towards a set of guidelines for better dialogue in a better world.

Noëlle Aarts, cultural anthropologist and communication scientist, is currently working as a full professor Socio-ecological interactions at the Institute for Science in Society (ISiS) at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Focusing on interactions between people in real-life settings, she studies inter-human processes and communication for creating space for socio-technological and socio-ecological innovation and change, including the role of knowledge therein. She has published on several topics such as conflict and negotiation in  socio-ecological transformation contexts (e.g. living labs for healthy landscapes), dealing with ambivalence for solving complex problems, and network-building and self-organization for sustainable land use policies and practices.

Tess Lea

professor of Anthropology at the University of Sydney

Picture of Tess Lea for Website