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SEA 2013 Annual Meeting Call for Papers: Inequality

Society for Economic Anthropology (SEA) 2013 Annual Meeting will be April 11-13, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Courtesy of SEA

The current recession, Occupy Wallstreet, and growing recognition of the gap between the top 1% and the middle class have brought new attention to the problem of economic and social inequality in the United States in particular and across the globe more generally. Questions regarding the origins, generation, and perpetuation of inequality in diverse societies are certainly not new to anthropologists. Anthropological and other social science research can improve understanding of the social, economic, cultural and political processes contributing to systems of inequality and stratification around the world. Better analysis of such processes not only enriches scholarship on critical issues but also has practical relevance for policy and interventions aimed at alleviating inequality.

This conference aims to bring together researchers from all fields of anthropology as well as other social sciences to present and discuss research that engages with the broad theme of inequality. There are a wide range of possible topics and questions to address. Papers and posters may address, but are certainly not limited to, the following:

  • At the most basic level, how is inequality defined, measured, studied and understood? How have measures and conceptions of inequality themselves changed over time? Is inequality most meaningful when considered in absolute terms of meeting basic needs or in relative terms that are context specific? How have hierarchy and inequality emerged in human societies and how are archeological remains studied and interpreted to identify social classes, early states, and relationships among state and non-state societies?
  • What socio-cultural institutions and structures create and maintain inequality among and between groups? Conversely, which social institutions and practices mitigate inequality and with which effects? For example, systems of reciprocity and leveling may reduce inequalities in small-scale societies, but such systems themselves are dynamic and changing. How have institutions and structures been affected by processes of global change such as the spread of capitalist economic systems, migration, and expanded economic exchange? What trends and patterns in inequality can we identify? While there is evidence that economic inequality has increased in the United States over the last several decades, other societies are experiencing lessening of inequality as economic growth reduces extreme poverty and brings more people into a new middle class. How are such trends experienced, understood, and explained?
  • Another set of questions surround the implications of inequality. The existence of some degree of social inequality is pervasive in human societies but the consequences of inequality may vary considerably from place to place and over time. For example, research has shown a negative relationship between economic inequality and health outcomes in society—while poorer people tend to have worse health outcomes, in societies with greater inequality these outcomes tend to persist even when basic needs are met and access to basic health services are provided. Why is this? Papers may explore the dynamic effects of inequality on important outcomes including health, education, political participation and leadership.

Please submit abstracts for papers (300-400 words) and posters (200-300 words) by email to Carolyn Lesorogol (clesorogol@wustl.edu). The deadline for abstract submissions is November 20, 2012.

Visit the 2013 SEA Annual Meeting webpage for complete details.


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