The Fires Within Us and the Rivers We Form

  • The River & Fire Collective
  • Antony Pattathu University of Tubingen
  • Olivia Barnett-Naghshineh University of Exeter
  • Oda-Kange Diallo Norwegian University of Science & Technology
  • Nico Miskow Friborg University of Stavanger
  • Zouhair Hammana Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Lisette van den Berg Leiden University
  • Angelo Camufingo University of Potsdam
  • Victoria Louisa Klinkert SOAS University of London
  • Andrew Judge Algoma University
  • Shukti Chaudhuri-Brill New York University Paris
  • Sherry Fukuzawa University of Toronto
  • Naasiha Abrahams KU Leuven
  • Jonathan Ferrier Dalhousie University


This paper is a creative, poetic and experimental intervention in the form of collective reflections and writings on Anthropology, as the discipline we have experienced and/or been a part of within the University. It is also a reflection on the process of how the authors came together to form the River and Fire Collective. As a collective we have studied, worked and taught in more than 15 universities, and the aspects we point to here are fragments of our experiences and observations of the emotionality of the discipline. These are experiences from different forms of Anthropology from Northern Europe and settler-colonial contexts including Great Turtle Island Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand. In a metaphorical manner we invite the reader to our collective fireside dialogues and reflections, to be inspired, to disagree or agree and to continue a process of transformation. The paper sets out to provocatively question whether Anthropology is salvageable or whether one should ‘let it burn’ (Jobson, 2020). Exploring this question is done by way of discussing decolonial potentialities within the discipline(s), the classroom and exploring fire and water as a radical potential to think through the tensions between abolition and transformation. The reflections engage with concepts of decolonization, whiteness/white innocence, knowledge creation and -sharing, the anthropological self, ethics and accountability and language. The paper emphasizes Anthropology’s embeddedness in colonial narratives, structures and legacies and draws attention to how these colonial, able-bodied realities are being continuously reaffirmed through multiple educational practices and methodologies. It suggests that collectivity in writing, thinking and being is part of a healing process for those of us feeling our way through colonial continuities and prospective potentialities of Anthropology.