Session CFP Information

Session proposals should speak to the general CFP themes and questions and questions directly or indirectly. Both traditional paper sessions and alternative format sessions are welcome. Anyone with an interest in the ethnographic study of NGOs (broadly including nonprofits, third sectors, voluntary organizations, etc.) is invited to submit a session proposal.


The deadline to submit session proposals was May 15th. Please note that sessions did not need to be completely filled with participants by this date. After the session review process (as outlined below), sessions with open slots will be asked to recruit further participants from our wider membership.


Session organizers will work with the conference planning committee to develop lines of discussion that focus on conceptual, practical, political and/or ethical issues surrounding NGO research and connected to our NGO-graphies theme. Session activities should offer a variety of forums that stimulate discussion, including but not limited to panel sessions, workshops, and roundtables. Each organizer will design a 1.75 hour session with themes broad enough to intrigue a diversity of people working in NGO studies or the NGO sector, yet specific enough for both scholars and practitioners to engage one another concerning their specializations. Examples include: dilemmas of participant observation, taking stock of theoretical resources, collaborations between NGO workers and researchers, doing critical ethnographies of NGOs, and comparing an anthropological approach to other methods of studying NGOs.


Proposals should include:


Theme Definition (200 words): The proposal should explain why the chosen theme is timely and relevant to NGO-graphies and NGO studies. This information will appear in the general CFP and should describe the issues that will focus presentations and discussions in the session.


Prospective Participants (150 words): Session organizers should endeavor to recruit participants through personal networks, but also remain open to collaboration with new colleagues identified through the general Call for Papers. In the proposal, please provide names and planned contributions of potential/confirmed participants (be as specific as possible).


Structure / Format (100 words): The description should also include a preliminary structure for engaging participants in focused and lively exploration of theme issues. We aim to facilitate conversations and collaborative analyses, so we strongly encourage proposals that employ innovative presentation formats, such as roundtables, break-out sessions and informal lunchtime conversations, in addition to traditional panels and paper presentations. Organizers may utilize a session format of their choosing. See the list below for ideas or work with the planning committee to design an alternative effective format.


Our aim is to facilitate conversations and collaborative analyses and so we strongly encourage proposals that employ innovative presentation formats. At the 2013 conference we featured roundtables, break-out sessions, and informal lunchtime conversations in addition to traditional panels and paper presentations. These proved both fruitful and memorable.


Proposals for the 2015 conference should include details of presentation or panel format, as well as content. Suggested formats include:


  • Panel: Panelists present papers united by a common theme or geographical location. The panel may include introductory remarks, a discussant, audience questions, etc.
  • Methods Labs: Session chair(s) introduce research or dissemination tools and methods (e.g., participatory filmmaking, photo-voice, storytelling) through interactive demonstration and discussion, allowing attendees “hands-on” experience of using the method.
  • Rapid Reports from the Field: Short presentations from panelists followed by audience feedback or Q&A, which may include “workshopping” approaches to overcoming fieldwork challenges.
  • Critical Questions: Session chair(s) circulate questions to panelists (and potentially to all conference attendees) in advance of the conference. Panelists respond with reference to their own research.
  • Debate: In the style of a High School Debate, panelists present arguments “for” and “against” a prompt. For example, at the IUAES Congress 2013, panelists debated the statement: “Justice for people must come before justice for the environment.” The audience may then ask questions, or even vote on the most compelling case.
  • Collaborative Response: Panelists work together to form tight links between papers, ideally responding to, or building off each other throughout each paper.
  • Media / Arts Installation: Presentation of film, photo and other artworks.
  • Flipping the Conference: Panelists present short papers, which they may make available in advance of the session, and invites the audience to act as discussants.
  • Your own approach!


If you are not sure how you might frame your panel using a non-traditional format, please contact Siobhán McGuirk ( or Christian Vannier (, who are happy to talk through ideas with you.


Proposals should be submitted as .doc attachments to Questions may also be directed to this email address.