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Annual Meeting Call for Papers – April 15 Deadline Reminder

Photo by HowStuffWorksThe 2014 AAA Annual Meeting Call for Papers embraces this year’s meeting theme Producing Anthropology. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the broad range of program changes designed to enhance the Annual Meeting experience and better meet the needs of our members and attendees. Click here for step by step instructions on the submission process. Take note of the important dates . Session proposals are due on April 15 at 5:00pm EDT.

April 15 Deadline Approaching

The 2014 AAA Annual Meeting Call for Papers embraces this year’s meeting theme Producing Anthropology. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the broad range of program changes designed to enhance the Annual Meeting experience and better meet the needs of our members and attendees. Click here for step by step instructions on the submission process. Take note of the important dates . Session proposals are due on April 15.

Know Before You Vote – Resolution on Contingent and Part-Time Academic Labor

A special message from AAA Secretary, Dr. Margaret Buckner:

At the November 2013 business meeting in Chicago, the Committee on Labor Relations submitted a resolution on contingent and part-time academic labor.  Though it was unanimously approved, there wasn’t a quorum at the meeting, so, in accordance with AAA bylaws, the resolution went to the Executive Board.  The EB in turn agreed to place the resolution on this year’s ballot for a vote of the full membership.  This blog is an opportunity for AAA members to speak for or against the resolution before the elections, which open on April 15.

View and leave your comments of the Resolution today. The Resolution will be available for comment until March 31st.

New Resource for Emerging Anthropologists

Two important lessons we learned at the 2013 Annual Meeting in Chicago:

1. Recent graduates in anthropology are deeply devoted to the field and motivated to spread the good word. The rising scholars we spoke with had broadly-conceived career goals like ‘make a difference’ and ‘do something meaningful’. And they were eager to introduce anthropology into less-familiar career settings – design anthropology, program evaluation, evidence-based policy, data artistry, digital anthropology, organizational behavior, heritage management, to name a few. Discussions in the hallways, between sessions and workshops, in the Careers Expo and the Section Summit, often centered on the array of career alternatives available to anthropologists and the preparation needs of students in a rapidly evolving job market.

2. Despite all our enthusiastic conversations over the course of the Annual Meeting, we had nowhere to continue the conversation and no central location for keeping in touch with one another.

As a result, we have developed The Engaging Anthropology Forum on Facebook to provide a platform for discussing careers in anthropology. This page will serve as an avenue for recent graduates pursuing careers in academic, applied, and practicing anthropology to share career prep and job search advice, news items spotlighting the work of anthropologists, and information on funding and training opportunities.

We also want to include current students in post-graduation discussion. Soon-to-be anthropologists need to be kept abreast of the evolving job climate and opportunities to prepare early for innovative new careers, so we invite current students and student organizations to join the discussion Forum. So far more than 50 student groups can be found on the Anthropology Clubs Roster (listed under Notes) on the Engaging Anthropology Forum. In addition, the broader field of anthropology can learn much from the enthusiasm of these student groups. Many of the clubs maintain group webpages, including Facebook and Tumblr pages. We invite you to visit their pages and see how they are bringing anthropology to their schools and communities. By sharing these stories, we hope to further incorporate student interests in AAA activities and offer inspiration for ever bigger and better anthropology clubs.

We have some exciting projects in the works for collaboration with up-and-coming anthropologists! We hope that this forum will open new channels for communication among the networks of emerging anthropologists.

Visit the page, let us know what you think, and next time you come across a useful piece of information on careers in anthropology, come share with your colleagues on the Engaging Anthropology Forum!

Seeking A Great AAA Love Story

heart_of_sand-1824It is no secret that the AAA Annual Meeting provides an amazing networking opportunity. And perhaps its been all the Valentine’s marketing in the air that has me wondering, is there couple out there who attribute their courtship to the AAA Annual Meeting? Perhaps you initially met at the meeting or had the opportunity to get to know one another better while at the meeting. I’ve heard rumors that some have even gotten married at past AAA Annual Meetings (If it’s true, I’d like to hear from you!).

The meetings are quite large, more than 7,000 attendees last year, so what was it about the individual that caught your attention? Maybe you sat next to each other at a session or met in the coffee line?

Send your love story to me, Joslyn at josten@aaanet.org. I’ll share them here on the AAA blog throughout February. Here are the details needed:
-the year of the meeting you met
-how you met
-a photograph if available
-your permission to share your story and photo

Thank you for sharing your great AAA love story!

“Back to School” Field Trip to the Chicago Field Museum

Today’s guest blog post is by Kamela Heyward-Rotimi. Kamela Heyward-Rotimi is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for African and African American Research at Duke University.  She is a visiting research scholar in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria, and is an adjunct affiliate in the Department of Anthropology at University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  Her research interests include race, gender, science, digital media, and education.  She is presently working on a manuscript that looks at the impact of Internet Fraud, also known as “419” or “Yahoo-Yahoo”, in the lives of everyday Nigerian communities.

Anthropologists are reconstituting ways to communicate anthropology with communities that host our meetings. At the 112th AAA Annual Meeting, anthropologists did just that in the Anthropologists Back to School initiative.

The past two AAA annual meeting themes addressed the imagined place of anthropology and the place of anthropology in our communities in the 21st century.  In line with this reflexive inquiry of contemporary anthropology, anthropologist and public intellectual Johnnetta Betsch Cole challenged her anthropology colleagues to reach out to the youngest members of the host cities of our AAA meetings.  The program chairs for the 2013 AAA meetings, Alaka Wali and Dana-Ain Davis, responded to the challenge and invited anthropologists to participate in the Anthropologist Back to School initiative in Chicago.

Dr. Cole’s invitation to partner with her in the Anthropologists Back to School initiative brought earlier lessons of “giving back” to communities, and engaged anthropology full circle for me.   My initial consideration of what is public anthropology would occurred after Dr. Cole’s inaugural address to the student body as the President of Spelman College.  In that speech she stressed that we budding professionals and scholars had a responsibility to our West End neighbors.  She challenged each of us to get involved with community service in the West End area, the area that both the Spelman community and the West End communities shared.   Community involvement was not a new concept for me but one I largely associated with civic and grassroots organizations, not higher institutions or anthropology.  The possibility of an anthropology advocating for community development challenged my previous understandings of anthropology as an immutable discipline.  I questioned how to pair my activism with my new found interest in anthropology; I never stopped asking where a “community involved” anthropology fits within the definition of anthropology.

In many ways, questioning the positionality of anthropology in society benefits from the legacy of anthropologists across subfields who have questioned anthropology’s role in addressing societal problems (Blakey 1998; Borofsky 2005; Cole 2009; Gwaltney 1980; Harrison 1991; Mead 2004; Sanday 1976).  It is increasingly clear, both in our research and everyday lives, that current understandings of society and anthropology require anthropologists’ active contribution.  The rapid exchange of information on digitized forums and open content online encyclopedias which shape peoples’ interpretation of everyday life highlight an opportunity and responsibility for anthropologists to be a part of these conversations in multiple mediums.  The conversations at the Anthropologist Back to School initiative presented a public space to engage in conversations about anthropology with young community members.

The Anthropologist Back to School initiative involved anthropologists representing all subfields engaging with students of all ages in and around exhibits at Loyola University, The University of Illinois at Chicago’s Latino Cultural Center and The Field Museum.

At the Field Museum site I found it meaningful to talk with young students about what it means to be an anthropologist, anthropological concepts, world cultures, and how to critically digest images in popular culture.  It was especially significant to share this time with colleagues who were also engaged in sharing their narratives of anthropology, and to anxiously admit that we hoped our presentations were relevant to these very young communities of primary and secondary school learners.

At the Field Museum, anthropologists engaged with local students in connection with various presentations they had prepared on a range of topics:  racial categories and diversity, ethnographic practices and fieldwork and interviewing techniques, vernacular and contemporary African culture; African innovation through the ages; Ghanaian culture, Adinkra symbols and ideographs; and African cities.  I discovered, as did my colleagues, that it was great fun talking with groups of cross learners.

I joined Dr. Cole in the Africa exhibit for our presentation, “Africa Connected,” where we discussed African stereotypes vs. contemporary African life and digitally connected African communities.  Dr. Cole began our presentation with a critical discussion of current perceptions of Africa based on tropes of a primitive and Dark Continent. I then shared contemporary images of West Africans digitally connected through social media and various new media technologies.  Our goal was to initiate a dialogue about Africa for young learners who are far too often instructed from curricula that codifies Africa and nations of the South as subpar civilizations.  An example of this kind of instruction was shared with me by a parent whose teen age son attends a magnet high school in southeast Chicago. This student’s ninth grade history teacher said the following to his class: “Colonialists brought a gift to West Africa, the gift of reading and writing.”  Many of our discussions with student groups ranging from 5th grade through 10th grade reflected this troubling popular misunderstanding of the history of colonialism in Africa and first world/third world dichotomies that are traded as fact. It was encouraging to see that students who may well have been exposed to distorted and factually incorrect information about African people and cultures were willing to listen to ethnographic and anthropological data depicting a more complex African existence.

One of the most memorable moments for Dr. Cole and me was our conversation with a 5th grade class and their teacher Ms. West*.  The students of this 5th grade class expressed informed perspectives about the diverse and dynamic realities on the African continent. The students’ responses caused me to revise the unofficial script I found myself following when talking with previous classes.  When we asked children from other visiting classes their impressions of Africa they generally listed diversity of animals, poverty, and ‘primitive societies.’  However, when the students of Ms. West’s class were asked the question, “What do you know about Africa?” A little girl responded with little hesitation: “It is an interesting place with smart people.” Her comment was immediately followed by a fellow classmate’s observation, “And, West Africans are using the Internet.”  Because their responses differed greatly from the responses given by fellow students also educated in Chicago area schools, I assumed that Ms. West’s class was sharing information they gained outside of the classroom.  Which prompted me to break with the script and ask, “Where did you learn all of these things?”  The students unanimously replied, “Ms. West is teaching us about Africa.”  Following our presentation, I asked Ms. West to briefly speak with Dr. Cole and myself. We first commended her for presenting a perspective of Africa seldom presented at the primary level in American Public school curricula.  She said, “This perspective you all and the other anthropologists presented about Africa is not in the units I am told to cover in my class. So, I referred to sources outside of the mandated Common Core Curriculum to find information that talks about positive views of Africa.  This is a part of my lessons on world history.”  Finally, she added that she would like to incorporate these kinds of analyses in her lesson plans.  After sharing with her some websites with images of contemporary Africa, Ms. West said she was inspired to widen her search for more complex stories of other countries.

Those conversations with the students, their teachers and side debriefs with participating colleagues reinforced the importance of a responsible anthropology that gives back and assumes an active role in understandings of culture writ large and in the margins.  The Anthropologists Back to School initiative allows me to extend my community engagement to the host cities of the AAA meetings.  Coincidently, in the past year some of my own community involvement included work with students from pre-K through college both at home and abroad.  In Nigeria I spoke with recently graduated secondary school students about anthropology and demystifying notions of democratic wealth of all American citizens.  In Durham, NC I conducted an interactive presentation for pre-K through high school aged students that addressed the presence of cultural symbols in our everyday lives.  And, on my way to the 111th AAA meetings in San Francisco and during a visit to my childhood home, Los Angeles, I was invited to speak to the young women of the Women’s Leadership Project, a feminist service learning program based at two LAUSD high schools in South Los Angeles.  My topic affirmed questions I asked of anthropology as an undergraduate; I discussed the perfect fit of anthropology for women of color who are community advocates.  I look forward to the continuation of the Anthropologists Back to School initiative and opportunities for anthropologists to engage with local communities during our AAA meetings in Washington, D.C..

*pseudonym

New Changes to the AAA Annual Meeting Program

The AAA Meetings & Conference Department is pleased to announce a broad range of changes to the Annual Meeting, adopted by the Executive Board. These changes will enhance the Annual Meeting experience and better meet the needs of our members and attendees.  The following changes will begin for the 2014 annual meeting to be held in Washington, DC December 3-7.

In particular, new session types and configurations go into effect for the 2014 meeting. As parts of these have changed, we recommend reviewing them closely as you prepare your abstract for the 2014 meeting.

New Session Types

  1. Retrospective sessions
  2. Annual opening plenary session
  3. Permanent inclusion of Installations

Read more about session types at the Annual Meeting.

Session and Participation Transformations

  1. Elimination of double sessions
  2. Allocation of 1 invited session to the World Council of Anthropological Associations (WCAA)
  3. Unified submission deadline of April 15 for all invited, volunteered and installation sessions, as well as individual volunteered papers and posters
  4. Chair role no longer counts against the 1+1 role rule

Read more about presenting policies and roles at the Annual Meeting.

Other Aspects of the Meeting

  1. Fuller engagement with social media (Introduce E-Posters, create alternative media centers, create a Speakers’ Corner, and create opportunities for live-streaming presentations to/from the meeting)
  2. Provision of internet access to the all of AAA’s meeting spaces.
  3. Officially expand the Executive Program Committee (EPC) to approximately 10 members

For the complete announcement, objectives and rationale for these changes, please visit the New Program Changes webpage.

See You Next Year!

AAA2013Thank you for participating in the 112th AAA Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL.

Safe travels as you return home.

Stay tuned for the 113th AAA Annual Meeting Call for Papers coming soon. The 113th AAA Annual Meeting will be held in Washington D.C. from December 3 to December 7, 2014.

Anthropology Matters

Mullings_LeithCome to the Waldorf Room (3rd Floor – Chicago Hilton) tonight for the AAA Presidential Address. On the topic of Anthropology Matters, AAA President Leith Mullings will begin the Address at 6:15pm.

Why Students Should Attend the AAA Careers Expo

Today’s guest blog post is by Kyle Simpson. Kyle is a graduate student in Anthropology at the University of Memphis.

When I tell people that I am working towards a Master’s Degree in Anthropology, the question is always the same, “What are you going to do with that?” I usually laugh and tell them that after my MA I plan to get a PhD and then teach at a university. But the truth is, like many graduate students, I don’t know what jobs are available to anthropologists outside of the academy.

2012 Careers Expo

2012 Careers Expo

This is why I’m looking forward to attending this year’s AAA meetings in Chicago. I’ve never been to our profession’s annual conference but will be attending this year. The event I’m most excited about is the Careers Expo. Each year, the NAPA/AAA-CoPAPIA sponsored Careers Expo brings together a variety of professional anthropologists representing widely diverse career paths. They have found employment in government, private, and non-profit organizations. In previous years, there have been representatives from Veteran’s Administration, Centers for Disease Control, Yahoo, Sapient, State Farm, CRM firms like ACE and SRI, and anthropological consulting firms like LTG Associates. While it is not a job fair, the Careers Expo provides a great opportunity for networking with practicing/professional anthropologists. Until recently, I was unaware that most of the work being conducted by anthropologists takes place outside of the academy, but several studies have shown that the vast majority of anthropologists do not work in the academic setting. Therefore, it is important for students to get a better sense of what they can do with their degree. The Careers Expo seems like the perfect way to learn about the diverse career options for graduating MA and PhD students.

Attendees will be exposed to a variety of anthropological career paths and will also have the opportunity to talk to anthropologists who have made the transition from the academy to practice. This is a chance to ask questions about making that transition, why you should think about pursuing a career in practice, and how to prepare yourself before graduating for a career in practice. Because this is not a job fair, there is no pressure on attendees. This should allow students to feel more comfortable in their interactions with exhibitors because the environment is informal and the conversations are casual.

The Careers Expo is one of the most heavily attended events at the AAAs. I heard that over 500 people attended it last year and the AAA expects even more to attend this year!

This year the Careers Expo will be held on Friday, November 22nd from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Exhibit Hall at the Chicago Hilton. To register, click here. I look forward to seeing you there!

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