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The AAA Process and Discussions of the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions

Today’s guest blog post is written by AAA members, Fida Adely and Lara Deeb

At the upcoming (December 2014) annual meeting of the American Anthropological Society (AAA), several panels will take up the issue of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, providing a context for learning about how anthropologists have been and could be further engaged in a just resolution. Several of these forums specifically focus on discussion of the call for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions. We support this boycott, but whether or not you agree with our position, we would like to clear up some circulating misinformation about how the discussion is taking shape in the AAA.

As of late, a number of people outside anthropology who are either opposed to an academic boycott, and/or opposed to any discussion or debate of such a boycott, have criticized the AAA for failing to provide “balance” in this annual meeting programming, implying that somehow this was deliberate on the part of the AAA, or at best, a glaring oversight. It is important to note that all of the panels mentioned above were vetted through the standard review process for proposed events at the annual meeting, the deadline for which was February 15 of this year (see the call for proposals). Indeed, the panel on the AAA program that, based on its title, will present an argument against the academic boycott was also submitted and vetted through this process. If there are fewer panels that seem to argue against the academic boycott rather than support it, this is because fewer were submitted by AAA members for inclusion on the program.

To those who suggest that opponents of the academic boycott were “surprised” by the multiple panels discussing the issue on this year’s AAA program: It is worth noting that this is the second year that discussion of the boycott of Israeli academic institutions has taken place in this venue. The 2013 AAA Annual Meeting included a well-attended panel of papers addressing various aspects of the boycott, and at that panel, a draft resolution was circulated and attendees were informed that further discussion of the boycott would take place at the 2014 Annual Meeting. The passing of academic boycott resolutions at the American Studies Association, the African Literature Association, the Asian-American Studies Association, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, and other academic associations should also have been an indication that similar discussions would arise at the AAA and elsewhere. This is not a matter that is somehow limited to anthropologists but a broader response from scholars to a call for solidarity from Palestinian civil society, in particular the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees. Clearly a few people understood that this would be discussed at the AAAs, as there is an anti-boycott panel on the program. If people do not find that particular panel “credible,” it is not the AAA’s fault.

There are a number of possible explanations for the dearth of anthropologists from major Israeli universities on panels addressing these issues. Those scholars may not have wanted to open up discussion of the academic boycott, as indicated by a letter from the Israeli Anthropological Association that condemns the AAA for its panel selections and for focusing on Israel as a key topic of discussion at the upcoming meetings. Yet it may also, instead, be an indication that it is not an easy task for Israeli scholars to publicly advocate the boycott of Israeli academic institutions – for fear of reprisals or punishment under Israeli government anti-boycott laws. While boycott advocates are not calling for scholars working in Israeli institutions to boycott their own institutions, some scholars in Israel have spoken out in support of the boycott. More than forty Israeli anthropologists responded to that letter from the Israeli Anthropological Association in a counter-letter defending the right of their anthropology colleagues to have this discussion. Notably, quite a few of the signatories on the second letter chose to sign anonymously, highlighting the very real possibility of sanctions, especially for early career scholars. As demonstrated in the IAA letter, those opposed to the academic boycott of Israeli institutions have sought to shut down even the mere discussion of the boycott. The default “anti-boycott” position is to not address it at all. This may provide a possible explanation for why only one such panel was organized and submitted for inclusion on the 2014 Annual Meeting program.

Finally, it is worth pointing out that the demand for “balance” in the context of an academic conference such as the AAA Annual Meeting is a puzzling one. What does balance mean in this context? That every argument should have a counter-argument? That AAA should henceforth review proposals with “balance” of theoretical and ideological leanings in mind? The AAA leadership’s job is to make sure panel proposals meet minimum criteria and are vetted through an established peer review process. They are not tasked with – nor should they be tasked with – micromanaging the conference program. Those who demand “balance” are asking the AAA leadership to interfere with existing process by which the conference comes together each year, something we are certain neither Association members or those in its leadership positions think is a good idea.

Camp AAA Childcare Hours Extended for 113th AAA Annual Meeting

113th AAA Annual Meeting

New for the 113th AAA Annual Meeting, Camp AAA childcare will have extended hours.

CAMP AAA welcomes children ages 6 months – 12 years. Children participate in age-appropriate activities including arts and crafts projects, active games and much more in a safe, nurturing environment.

Wednesday, December 3 – 11am to 10pm
Thursday, December 4 – Saturday, December 6 – 8:30am to 8:30pm
Sunday, December 7 – 7:30am to 2pm

Registration is now open. Space is limited. Click here for details and to register.

 

AES Graduate-Student Workshops at the 113th AAA Annual Meeting

American Ethnological Society

The American Ethnological Society is pleased to announce its ongoing series of graduate-student workshops. The workshops will take place during the American Anthropological Association’s 113th Annual Meeting in Washington DC.

Each workshop is limited to ten students. The workshops are free. To apply for a workshop, please send a 250-300-word description of your research project and its relationship to the workshop theme. Descriptions will be shared with other workshop participants in advance of the meeting. In addition, your faculty leader(s) may circulate one short piece for discussion.

Preference will be given to AES Student Members, though non-members are also encouraged to apply. Students can join the AES for $18.

To apply for a workshop, or if you have any questions, please contact: Andrew Hernann (ahernann@gc.cuny.edu). The deadline to apply is November 1, 2014.

We are pleased to offer the following five workshops:

Teaching Intro: Strategies for Reaching our Largest Public Audience
Faculty facilitator: Kenneth Guest (Baruch College CUNY/AES Treasurer)
Date: Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014
Time: 9:00 am-10: 45 am

More than 200,000 students take “Introduction to Cultural Anthropology” in the United States every year. This is by far anthropology’s largest public audience. It is where anthropology departments have their largest enrollments—and we may have these students for as many as 15 weeks. Facilitated by Prof. Kenneth Guest, author of the new textbook, Cultural Anthropology: A Toolkit for a Global Age (2014), this discussion considers strategies for engaging introductory students in deep learning about the way the world works using the tools of anthropology.

Ethnography for the 21st Century
Faculty facilitators: Joseph Masco (University of Chicago), Ken Wissoker (Editorial Director, Duke University Press)
Date: Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014
Time: 1:00 pm-2:15 pm

Ethnography, by definition, seeks to describe and theorize culture. Words on the page, however, are a rather thin device relative to culture’s “thickness.” Nonetheless, despite the dramatic technological innovations of the past couple of decades, the written ethnography has remained largely unchanged. In this workshop, we explore the possibilities beyond the traditional written ethnography. We ask such questions as: How can ethnographers make use of both hardware and software, including e-readers, websites, etc.? How can we utilize technology to create an ethnography that better connects, informs and teaches increasingly techno-savvy undergraduates? Facilitated by Prof. Joseph Masco and Editorial Director Ken Wissoker, this workshop brings together experts in ethnography and technology and future ethnographers, critically engaging the potentials of this technoscape for the ethnographic genre.

Publishing in Anthropology: Tips on Academic Writing and Peer Review
Faculty facilitators: Angelique Haugerud (Editor, American Ethnologist/Rutgers University), Catherine Besteman (AE editorial board member/Colby College), Eric Gable (AE book review editor/University of Mary Washington), and other AE editorial board members.
Date: Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014
Time: 1:00 pm-2:15 pm

In this workshop, Prof. Angelique Haugerud, Prof. Catherine Besteman, and Prof. Eric Gable offer advice on publishing in scholarly journals as well as for wider audiences. Topics include elements of successful academic writing, navigating the peer review process, what goes on behind the scenes in editorial boards and editorial offices, selecting journals and approaching editors, writing for edited volumes, preparing book reviews and book prospectuses, and how to get an article accepted in the American Ethnologist. This session will include time for participants to ask questions about a range of publishing processes and practices.

Writing Violence
Faculty facilitators: Carolyn Nordstrom (Notre Dame University), Sally Engle Merry (New York University)
Date: Friday, Dec. 5, 2014
Time: 1:00 pm-2:15 pm

All ethnographic writing poses challenges. A political act, ethnography raises questions of representation and (inter-)subjectivity. However, ethnography of violence and conflict encounters some particular issues. For instance: How to avoid fetishizing violence? How to alleviate the perpetrator-victim dichotomy? How to prevent accounts of violence from becoming white noise? How to prevent violence from becoming a trope in/for certain regions? Following up on last year’s successful graduate student roundtable, “Methodological and Ethical Issues in Ethnographic Research on Conflict and Violence,” co-facilitators Prof. Carolyn Nordstrom and Prof. Sally Engle Merry come together again in order to take a critical look at the difficulties of writing about violence.

Bridging the Gap: On Anthropology and Islamic Studies
Faculty facilitators: Engseng Ho (Duke University), Andrew Shryock (University of Michigan)
Date: Friday, Dec. 5, 2014
Time: 9:00 am-10:45 am

Trans-disciplinarity has been in vogue for the past decade, yet, the conversation in many ways remains confused and/or unapproachable. This is especially problematic for anthropologists of Islam. Anthropology tends to privilege “popular” or “syncretic” expressions of religion, often underplaying the influence of “orthodoxy” and central religious texts. As a result, anthropology frequently fails to create a space to learn or critically engage the literature and theoretical entry points that are central to Islamic Studies. The result: (1) an anthropology ill-equipped to consider more “formal” approaches to Islam, as well as their relationship to “popular” Islam; and (2) an anthropology unable to effectively communicate with Islamic Studies (and vice versa). In this workshop, Prof. Engseng Ho and Prof. Andrew Shryock discuss how we can make the two disciplines better resonate with one another. Specifically, we ask: How can anthropologists make better use of Islamic Studies; and can anthropological work effectively contribute to Islamic Studies? A fresh contribution to the discussion of trans-disciplinarity, this workshop explores how to resist disciplinary enclavement and engage broader analyses in theoretically meaningful ways.

Book Your Annual Meeting Hotel at a Discount

113th AAA Annual MeetingThe 2014 Annual Meeting will take place at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel and Omni Shoreham Hotel. Both hotels will host scholarly panels and roundtables, special events, and other activities during the week-long conference.

AAA has negotiated special rates for AAA attendees at both hotels. Reservations can be made online via the links below. These rates are limited. Don’t hesitate and book today!

Call for Submissions – Ethnographic Terminalia

Today’s guest blog post is by Fiona McDonald.

Ethnographic Terminalia 2014 Call for Submissions

Submission deadline: September 5th, 2014
to ethnographicterminalia@gmail.com

We seek projects in any medium for inclusion in Ethnographic Terminalia 2014––The Bureau of Memories: Archives and Ephemera. This theme (two sides of the same coin) invites reflection on the archive and its discontents. Washington’s identity as the seat of American political power is amplified through its role as the locus of its own memorialization. Where there is history, there is haunting. By drawing on the archive’s unnerving, uncanny, and ephemeral specters, this exhibition is an effort to re-imagine and reposition archives as sites which not only have the capacity to produce and contest historical memory, but also generate significant gaps and blind spots.

Ethnographic Terminalia is an initiative that brings artists and anthropologists together to present emerging research through installation and exhibition. As a platform from which divergent modes and methodologies of inquiry are articulated, Ethnographic Terminalia asks what lies within and beyond disciplinary territories, and how those boundaries shape the representation of cultural practice. Now in its sixth year, Ethnographic Terminalia represents a diversity of material, conceptual, and creative engagements where anthropology and art intersect. Inhabiting gallery spaces and site-specific locations, these include sound, drawing, sculpture, photography, printmaking, video, film, Internet and multi- media works. Organized as a para-site and Installation project of the American Anthropological Association annual meeting, this year’s exhibition will be shown in Washington D.C. at Hierarchy, a new venue near the AAA meeting headquarters.

Submission Format and Guidelines:

Please compile the information below into one MSWord format (.docx or .doc) document (MAX 10 pages), preferably in the following order:

  • Personal contact information (email, phone, postal address)
  • Title of project
  • An artist’s or maker’s statement of project (up to 300 words)
  • A short biographical statement (100 words)
  • A technical proposal for installation of your piece and footprint with measurements (dimensions and technical requirements). Please be as specific as possible about any technologies that you will require or provide.
  • A current CV or résumé (no more than 2 pages)

Submissions should also include:

  • 3 digital images (sized 300 dpi 4”x6”) of the proposed piece
  • A link somewhere in your document to a website for video works, if applicable

Send submissions and queries directly to: ethnographicterminalia@gmail.com

Works must arrive in Washington, D.C. between November 25th and 30th, 2014. If you are unable to work with these dates, please indicate this in your proposal so that alternative arrangements can be made. Please note that preference will be given to completed works. Funding is regrettably not available to support the travel costs of artists, the development of works, shipping, or insurance.

Ethnographic Terminalia 2014—Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Memories: Archives and Ephemera will run from December 3rd-7th, 2014. There will be a reception on Friday, December 5th, 2014 at 7pm at Hierarchy and other special events TBA (schedule is subject to change).

All applicants will be notified about the status of their submission by October 1st, 2014

PDF Download: International Call for Submissions

Annual Meeting Dialogue on Israel-Palestine

Today’s blog post is by AAA Executive Director Dr. Edward Liebow.

Because violence begets violence, I have recently been looking for a better way (without bullets) to say ‘there’s no silver bullet’ to acknowledge the palpable absence of any simple remedy to the intractable latest episode in a decades-long Israeli/ Palestinian conflict. Indeed, in recent days, hopeful glimmers of an extended cease-fire are clouded by escalating negotiation demands with toweringly high stakes. This concerns me as an individual, and also as AAA Executive Director at a moment when we are opening up dialogue on Israel/Palestine inside the association.

Indeed, here at the AAA office, summer is almost over, and our planning machine is already at full speed in advance of December’s Annual Meeting in Washington. The program is available online. Judging by recent blog posts and social media exchanges, this year’s Meeting is among the more eagerly anticipated in recent memory, in no small part due to the opportunities that have been created for a scholarly consideration of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – although of course there are possibilities for discussion both before and after. Anthropologists will be tackling many of the world’s challenges at this year’s Meeting, so let me take this opportunity to provide you with more information about the events surrounding the Israel/Palestine conflict.113th AAA Annual Meeting

Paper presentations, roundtable discussions, and an open forum discussion will allow participants to unpack this conflict’s historical, cultural, and political-economic contexts, and also examine the advocacy role of scholarly societies like the AAA.

Thanks to the hard work of AAA members, the program chairs, the Executive Program Committee, and the AAA meetings and conference staff, we have aimed to make sure a wide range of perspectives will be represented in these events, which include:

For more information and session abstracts, log in to the meetings site. We invite healthy, respectful debate, and look forward to a deliberate, considered, and educational dialogue.

Haven’t registered for the 113th Annual Meeting yet? Register today! Will you be traveling from out of town? Save money by booking your hotel now at a discounted rate.

Book Your Annual Meeting Hotel at a Discount

113th AAA Annual MeetingThe 2014 Annual Meeting will take place at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel and Omni Shoreham Hotel. Both hotels will host scholarly panels and roundtables, special events, and other activities during the week-long conference.

AAA has negotiated special rates for AAA attendees at both hotels. Reservations can be made online via the links below. These rates are limited and will only last until November 11th. Don’t hesitate and book today!

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