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Austerity, Inequality, and Resistance in the Urban Midwest

Have you added this Installation to your personal scheduler yet? It is one not to miss.

Sponsored by the Society for North American Anthropology

Photo courtesy of Molly Duane

Photo courtesy of Molly Doane

Austerity, Inequality, and Resistance in the Urban Midwest: A
Community/Activist Dialogue

In light of the recent placement of Detroit and other Michigan cities in
receivership as well as the battles over public service unions and the
funding of public services in Wisconsin and Illinois, this installation
brings together critical anthropologists, filmmakers and community
activists in conversation. Light refreshments will be served.

Thursday, November 21  4:00-6:00 Jane Addams Hull-House Museum The
University of Illinois at Chicago 800 S. Halsted (M/C 051) Chicago, IL
60607-7017 Organizers: Molly Doane, Ida Susser, Susan Hyatt, SANA

Contact at site:
Molly Doane mdoane@uic.edu

Photo courtesy of Molly Duane

Photo courtesy of Molly Doane

The panel includes:
Ida Susser: Introduction

Andy Newman: (Wayne State University): The Crisis in Detroit

Jane Collins (UW-Madison): The Madison uprising

Adrienne Alexander (AFSCME): Chicago perspectives

Jamie Owen Daniel (field service director for the Illinois Federation of
Teachers and Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies): Chicago perspectives

Jim Field (Chicago Coalition for the Homeless)

Christine Noschese (Filmmaker): Clips from Metropolitan Avenue

The event will take place in the Hull House dining hall, where Jane Addams
shared ideas with the leading labor organizers, activists, and
intellectuals of her day. The Hull House Museum features innovative
exhibits that connect the social concerns and activism of today to the
political issues of the early twentieth Century. “Redefining Democracy:
Jane Addams and the Hull House Settlement” and “Unfinished Business: Home
Economics in the 21st Century” will be open 10am-4PM for those interested
in visiting before the event

AAA Annual Meeting Mobile Application: A Brief Survival Guide

Before we begin, a little bit about myself: my name is Andrew Russell, and I began working for the American Anthropological Association in early August.  I came from an anthropological background, and will be the first to admit I had no idea what really went on at the AAA on a daily basis. Now that I’ve stepped “behind the curtain” I am amazed by how efficient and passionate the AAA staff is. Now in my third month, I realized it might be a good opportunity to take a journey with the many members of the AAA, and anthropologists in general.  What does it take to run an academic association? What goes on, on a monthly basis?

As you can imagine, with the November Annual Meeting looming over us, October is a hectic month for the meetings department. Anything that has been waiting to go wrong, has been waiting for October.  But fear not— your trusty meetings department at the AAA is on the case.

October marks the finalization of the program and abstract.  In recent years AAA has sought to bring a more holistically green approach to the meeting, one way is to cut down on the amount of printing we do(It also saves you money). I can assure you, however, we worked tirelessly to make these behemoths the best quality they can be.  That means, putting together a cover design that both represents the wonderful city we are guests of and the meeting itself.  This year we went with the iconic lion statues of Chicago. No offense to Bean lovers, but it’s a good fit, lacking in what I had assumed might come off as regal iconography.

But what is to replace the program?  A mobile application of course, a feature which will hopefully be recurring for meetings to come.  For those of you who have been coming to these events for a while, you may recall (try to forget for us) there was a mobile app a few years ago.  This is certainly not that mobile app, and its features are vastly improved.

The mobile app will be available for Android and iPhone/Pad users, downloadable from their respective stores for free. But what will be included in it, you might wonder. The simple answer is: everything. Everything you might need for the conference at least.

The mobile app is broken up into six sections which I will go over briefly here.

screenshot_1Agenda: This menu will display list of sessions for each Date, as well as a Program sorted alphabetically. Selecting a date will list the sessions for that data. Selecting a session will navigate to the session details screen. The session location will link to a floor plan provided by AAA. After viewing a session, you can add it to your schedule, which will store it on the mobile app. And of course, you can share session information amongst anyone else who has the mobile app— sending a message to their registered email.
Exhibitors: while this might not affect many folks, it’s important to note that a huge reason the AAA is still able to develop these meetings is because of support from exhibitors.  They often come to the Annual Meeting to show off the latest in technological advances and ideas.  The exhibitor section of the mobile app will provide you with names, dates, and map layouts of where to find exhibitors.

Attendees: This will display a list of attendees. This list will display attendee name (first, last) and company name, attendee name sorted alphabetically on last name.  Sorry— you can’t stalk your professor, attendees’ email address and phone number are not displayed until the attendee has turned on display of email address and/or phone number under his/her privacy settings. A search will be available on the attendee list to search for attendees within name and company. That being said, the mobile app will act as a messaging device within the meeting. You’ll be able to send a message via the attendee detail screen.  You can also request an appointment through a similar manner.
Information: Here is where you’ll find the FAQ for the meeting.  Ideally, this will answer every question you could possibly want to know about the annual meeting. The questions were collected from our staff, so I’m sure we’ve missed a few things.  During the meeting, we’ll provide you with an email address to send further questions— who knows, your question might be confusing enough that we put it up on the FAQ.  FAQs thus far include, getting to the meeting, workshops, installments, student Saturday, and an in-depth explanation of the mobile app itself (hey you never know).

Announcements: Announcements will be a quick and easy way for the AAA to get information out to you.  This could range from a fire alert to free pizza— so make sure not to ignore these notifications.

screenshot_2My Meetings: The nexus of everything to mobile app has to offer.  Here you can view appointments and sessions added to your schedule and remove items from said schedule; this included free form additions.  Your schedule will also be updated periodically based on information you have provided the AAA. This section will also include appointments, where you can view appointment requests and approve or deny requests and also view status of your own requests.  For those of you who might be a little more disorganized (or who just like to be really on top of things) we also provide you with a To Do List. Here you can view the exhibitors added to your To Do List and remove items from the To Do list. As with the appointments, this can be free form items.  My Meetings will also include the messaging system used to contact anyone else with the mobile app. Last but not least, you will also have access to
“My Profile.” Where you can control which email notifications you receives (appointments, messages, announcements). Ability to view email address and phone number is turned OFF by default.

Hope this clears things up. The mobile app is currently available for android and iPhone users and can be picked up at the iTunes store here: https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=692800377&mt=8

Of course, this is really our first go at the mobile app experience, and it’s an evolving process– so feel free to suggest corrections by sending them to aaameetings@aaanet.org.

The Annual Meeting is only a few weeks away, come prepared!

Susan Hyatt: An Anthropologist Back to School

Today’s guest blog post is written by Dr. Susan B. Hyatt.  Dr. Hyatt is currently an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). During the 1980s, she spent 8 years working as a community organizer in South Chicago, which is where she first developed her interest in  community collaborative projects. Dr. Hyatt has volunteered to lead a program in the Anthropologists Back to School initiative. Her program will take place at The Field Museum. This new initiative seeks volunteers to lead and assist programs at various host sites throughout Chicago on Wednesday, November 20 from 9am to12pm. Share your passion of anthropology while giving back to this year’s host city – Chicago. Learn more about how you can participate in Anthropologists Back to School and register today!

Photo courtesy IUPUI

Photo courtesy IUPUI

I am looking forward to participating in the Anthropologists Back to School initiative at the Field Museum in Chicago on November 19th.  My workshop will be based on a collaborative ethnographic project I carried out in Indianapolis, which brought together university students, a synagogue, a community center and a Black Baptist Church in an endeavor we called, “The Neighborhood of Saturdays.”

In 2010, Anthropology students from my institution, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) began conducting oral history interviews with former residents of what had once been one of the most multi-ethnic neighborhoods in Indianapolis—the near Southside.  We focused on two groups who had occupied that space between 1920-1960— the children of Jewish immigrants whose families hailed from cities formerly located in the Ottoman Empire in the early years of the 20th century, and African Americans whose families arrived from the south during the Great Migration.  During the 1950s, many of the Jewish families began moving to the more affluent northside neighborhoods where many of the Jewish communal institutions had already relocated.  Ten years later, the remaining African American community was displaced by the construction of an interstate highway that bisected the old neighborhood, destroying both residential properties and a once-vibrant commercial strip.

Photos courtesy of Angela Herrmann

Photos courtesy of Angela Herrmann

Former African-American and Jewish neighbors largely lost contact with one another after the highway came through.  Once a year, however, the African-American former southsiders continued to gather in a small park in the old neighborhood for a reunion picnic, held on the first Saturday in August.  I learned about the reunion picnics and began attending them in 2008 with the idea that students enrolled in my Ethnographic Methods class would collect life histories about the old Southside and about the reunions, which were then in their 35th year. I had assumed that the neighborhood had long been primarily African-American, however in my interviews at that first picnic, several folks shared with me their recollections of how special they felt it had been to grow up in a multi-ethnic neighborhood, especially in that earlier historical era, and they reminisced in particular about their former Jewish neighbors and about the many Jewish-owned businesses that had once thronged the main thoroughfare, Meridian St.

Through a chance encounter, I met later met a member of one of those Southside Jewish families and she put me in touch with others.  Both communities were excited and enthusiastic about coming back together to work with the students toward the goal of writing a book about their community.  We changed the name of the project from “First Saturday in August” to “The Neighborhood of Saturdays,” which incorporated references to both the picnic and to the Jewish observance of the Sabbath on Saturdays.

Photo courtesy of Angela Herrmann

Photo courtesy of Angela Herrmann

Over a two-year period, Jewish and African-American Southsiders gathered regularly with the students to record their life stories and to talk about the on-going research and plan the book.  In addition to carrying out the oral history interviews, students also engaged in archival research about the neighborhood and they organized several events we called “scan-a-thons.”  The scan-a-thons were held at a community center, at the synagogue and at the Black church, where we invited people to bring old photographs, church bulletins, newspaper articles and other memorabilia about the neighborhood which we scanned using laptops and portable scanners.  All of that material was organized and catalogued by our university library’s Digital Scholarship team and it is now available on a library web site, along with some of the publicity that the project garnered, including an article from the New York Times and a recent story on our local NPR affiliate.

Last February, we self-published the book, The Neighborhood of Saturdays: Memories of a Multi-Ethnic Neighborhood on Indianapolis’ Southside.  Elders who were involved in the project have continued to organize events around the city to share their memories of growing up together and to reflect on their experiences reuniting after more than 50 years to work on the book.

Photo courtesy of Angela Herrmann

Photo courtesy of Angela Herrmann

The students and I were surprised to learn that during an era when Jim Crow was a de facto aspect of life in Indianapolis, in the “neighborhood of Saturdays,” people had once come together across racial and religious boundaries to forge friendships that were revived by our research project. For my Back to School workshop, I plan to share some stories about this project and to perhaps show the students some short videos of our elders talking about the old neighborhood.  I hope to help them think about how urban neighborhoods change through time, and to understand how we can use strategies like mapping, interviewing and scanning old photographs to discover stories that might surprise us today. Like Sabiyha Prince, I also hope that some of them will think about working on their own neighborhood history projects, and about perhaps organizing their own story-telling sessions and even scan-a-thons with their family elders and neighbors.   If nothing else, hopefully they will learn that the communities where they live now and that they take for granted in their current incarnations may once have looked very different, and that they can use some of the strategies we used to uncover their own neighborhood’s “hidden history.”

Going to Chicago? Hotel Room Discounts end tomorrow – Book Now!


The deadline to book your hotel at a discounted rate is this Wednesday, October 23rd.  The 112th Annual Meeting in Chicago will be held November 20-24, 2013. Scholarly sessions and special events will take place at the Chicago Hilton, Renaissance Blackstone and Essex Inn. Two more hotels have been recently added to help accommodate attendees.  Hurry to book your room today!

An Opportunity to Experience the Mexican American Community in Chicago


Photo courtesy Stephen L. Schensul

On Friday, November 22 from 8:00-9:30 am, anthropologists Stephen L. Schensul and Gwen Stern and colleagues from Mujeres Latinas en Accion  will present the session, “Anthropological Involvement in Advocacy and Development in the Mexican American Community in Chicago: A Forty-Five Year (1968-present) Case Study.” Following this session, participants are invited for a guided visit to the Pilsen Mexican American community, four miles from the Chicago Hilton, accessible by public transportation or an inexpensive taxi ride. We will start the visit at Mujeres from 10:30 to 11:30 to learn more about current research and programs, visit the National Museum for Mexican Art (just five blocks from Mujeres) from 11:45-12:45 and have lunch at a community restaurant. There will also be opportunities to purchase pan dulce in the panderias, shop in La Casa del Pueblo for chile, spices and salsa and purchase the finest tortillas in North America at El Milagro Tortillaria.

Register to attend the 112th AAA Annual Meeting today!

Going to Chicago? Hotel Room Discounts end 10/23 – Book Now!


The deadline to book your hotel at a discounted rate is this Wednesday, October 23rd.  The 112th Annual Meeting in Chicago will be held November 20-24, 2013. Scholarly sessions and special events will take place at the Chicago Hilton, Renaissance Blackstone and Essex Inn. Two more hotels have been recently added to help accommodate attendees.  Hurry to book your room today!

Sabiyha Prince, An Anthropologist Back to School

Today’s guest blog post is by Sabiyha Prince (Coppin State U). Dr. Prince has volunteered to lead a program in the Anthropologists Back to School initiative. Her program will take place at The Field Museum. This new initiative seeks volunteers to lead and assist programs at various host sites throughout Chicago on Wednesday, November 20 from 9am to12pm. Share your passion of anthropology while giving back to this year’s host city – Chicago. Learn more about how you can participate in Anthropologists Back to School and register today!

S. Prince

I am an adjunct professor at Coppin State University in Baltimore, Maryland and a researcher and qualitative data analyst for the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum of Washington, D.C. which is currently closed due to the government shutdown.  As a cultural anthropologist I have been interested in the unfolding elements of race, class, and other aspects of status and identity as these overlap to shape the conditions and experiences of African Americans in cities. This is a focus that has led me to look at socioeconomic diversity among Blacks in the U .S. and to explore the continued legacy of racial inequality in the contemporary period.  Most recently my research and writing have resulted in my second book, African Americans and Gentrification in Washington, D.C. Race, Class and Social Justice in the Nation’s Capital (2014).

This forthcoming book uses qualitative data to explore the experiences and ideas of African Americans as they confront and construct gentrification in Washington, D.C.  It contextualizes Black Washingtonians’ perspectives on belonging and attachment during a marked period of urban transformation and demographic change and attends to the impact of hierarchies and standpoints over time.  I present oral history and ethnographic data on current and former African American residents of D.C. and combine these with analyses from institutional, statistical, and scholarly reports on wealth inequality, shortages in affordable housing, and rates of unemployment in Washington, D.C.  Completing this project led me to glossed-over histories of a people and a place too often narrowly construed within adherence to an inside or outside the beltway conceptual dichotomy.  Among my most central findings is the conclusion that gentrification seizes upon and fosters uneven development, vulnerability and alienation in affected communities.  While proponents deploy the language of multiculturalism and diversity in support of gentrification I noted heightened forms class and race-based tension in areas that have experienced this type of urban restructuring.

I am also a longtime proponent of an engaged anthropology and, as such, have worked with grassroots organizers in Washington, D.C. and anti-war, environmental justice and anti-apartheid social movements in D.C. and New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Back to School program appealed to me on a number of levels although I will admit to mildly panicking after coming on board because I couldn’t think of anything worthwhile to share.  I have volunteered to work at The Field Museum site but when I was told Power Point presentations would not be possible I began to fear I would bore the pants off of the students in my attempt to support such an important initiative.  This all changed after I read Julie Lesnik’s guest blog posting and became inspired.  As I began ruminating on strategies for incorporating my own research into the process my mind turned to urban change and rested on the D.C. residents without whose cooperation I would have had absolutely nothing to write about in my book.  Certain the students I would come to meet in Chicago would have folks in their lives with stories in need of recording, I decided to lead mini-workshops designed to empower young people around using anthropology to explore their neighborhoods and/or surrounding areas.

The details of my plan are coming together but my goal is to imbue students with (or reinforce in them) a sense of how valuable their own communities are – even those in which residents are experiencing challenges.  I will provide handouts with listings of community assets – broadly considered – and questions students can ask of potential participants in their self-constructed projects.  I intend to encourage those who visit me at the museum to either interview select neighbors or members of their social networks and/or engage in small acts of ethnographic observation within their communities.  It is my hope that this project will inspire students to look at their communities through fresh eyes and encourage them to consider the value of anthropological inquiry.  It is also possible students can use some of the suggestions I will share to complete homework assignments or school projects.


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