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Inside Anti-Crisis

Anti-Crisis-BigMichael Schapira, Interview Editor at Full Stop sits down with Janet Roitman to get an insider perspective on her new book Anti-Crisis. Dr. Roitman, Chair, Department of Anthropology at the New School, examines the cycle of crisis production and thinks critically about the Global Financial Crisis. Below is an excerpt of the interview. Read the entire interview at Full Stop.

Crisis is not a small word. It is meant to raise the stakes of the present moment. We may no longer speak with the grandeur of the Continental philosopher (Rahm Emanuel parroting Winston Churchill —  “never let a good crisis go to waste” — is probably the best known use of the term today), but that doesn’t take any of the immediacy out of the crisis claim. However, what are the grounds of crisis? What allows us to call the 2007-9 economic collapse the “Global Financial Crisis,” and how do we tell ourselves the story of how we got there and where we need to go? As the anthropologist Janet Roitman notes in her excellent new book Anti-Crisis, our telling of events like the Global Financial Crisis has the effect of “permitting and enabling certain narrations and giving rise to certain questions, but not others.” The questions we tend to ask are along the lines of “what went wrong?” (e.g. in our pricing of derivatives or other complex financial instruments), but not “how can one know crisis in history? And how can one know crisis itself?” It is a stretch to say that the Global Financial Crisis has reached any neat resolution, which makes Roitman’s call to think outside of the politics of crisis such an important task for understanding our present moment — in both its limitations and possibilities.

I sat down with Janet on a chilly morning near Lincoln Center to discuss why we need to think crisis differently, why the concept has eluded the critical attention that we give to other terms, and why anthropologists may have something significant to contribute to philosophy and political theory.

Michael Schapira: How did you arrive at the concept of “crisis?”

Janet Roitman: It’s actually a very simple story. I’d published my first book, which was on Central Africa and related to economic anthropology. One of the things that was important to me in that book was to not write about Africa and its pathology. I was very careful not to take the Weberian model of the rational-legal state and then recount the ways that Africa diverges from and doesn’t achieve that model — which is basically what most political science on Africa does. I was teaching in France at the time and got an email from Beth Povinelli at Columbia inviting me to give the Franz Boas lecture. Of course, I was very flattered. So we had this email exchange. Fiscal Disobedience had been out for a couple of years and I didn’t want to just present the book, so I wondered what exactly they wanted me to do. She wrote back saying that the book had been really helpful for thinking about crisis in anthropology. I didn’t know if she meant crisis in the discipline of anthropology or how anthropologists deal with the concept of crisis, but what I did know is that I felt I had failed miserably. In the introduction to my first book, I say why I am not using the terms crisis or failed states, so I thought, “Oh no, I went to all these pains to avoid these terms and here they are asking me to come talk about them.” I was really flummoxed, but I thought about it and realized that Achille Mbembe and I had written this text almost a decade prior in Public Culture called “Figures of the Subject in Times of Crisis.” So I went back and reread that text and realized that I was happy when we wrote it, but now totally disagreed with it a decade later. So I wrote the presentation for the Franz Boas lecture that explained why I was in disagreement with it and why my book was supposed to have marked a different direction.

To jump over a lot of stuff, I ended this experience of having given the lecture with the question of how to think Africa otherwise than under the sign of crisis, which was a quandary. As an anthropologist, or at least someone associated with the discipline of anthropology, I had to devise an ethnographic project to investigate this question; but first I really needed to think more about the concept. So I started this work of inquiring into the concept. When I arrived at The New School in 2007, I taught two graduate seminars where we really traced the emergence of the concept in the social sciences and its displacements through various disciplines — from Marxist historiography to economic anthropology to post-structuralism, etc.

Read the entire interview at Full Stop.

AAA Minority Dissertation Fellowship – Deadline Extended to March 1

The American Anthropological Association invites minority doctoral candidates in anthropology to apply for a dissertation writing fellowship of $10,000. The annual AAA Minority Dissertation Fellowship is intended to encourage members of U.S. racialized minorities to complete doctoral degrees in anthropology, thereby increasing diversity in the discipline and/or promoting research on issues of concern among minority populations. Dissertation topics in all areas of the discipline are welcome. Doctoral students who require financial assistance to complete the write-up phase of the dissertation are urged to apply.

The deadline to apply has been extended to March 1st. Please visit our website for more information.

AAA Minority Dissertation Fellowship

The American Anthropological Association invites minority doctoral candidates in anthropology to apply for a dissertation writing fellowship of $10,000. The annual AAA Minority Dissertation Fellowship is intended to encourage members of U.S. racialized minorities to complete doctoral degrees in anthropology, thereby increasing diversity in the discipline and/or promoting research on issues of concern among minority populations. Dissertation topics in all areas of the discipline are welcome. Doctoral students who require financial assistance to complete the write-up phase of the dissertation are urged to apply.

The deadline to apply is February 15th. Please visit our website for more information.

AAA Student Summer Internship – Call for Applications

The American Anthropological Association is pleased to offer two internship opportunities funded by member donations.

Internships are six weeks in length from June 30 through August 8, 2014.  Internships are unpaid however; interns will be provided housing and a meal/travel stipend.

Interns will spend approximately 40 percent of their time working onsite at the AAA offices in Arlington, Virginia, and the other 60 percent of their time working on-site at one of three locations described below.

Eligibility:

  • Undergraduate students in their junior or senior year
  • First Year Graduate students (completing the first year of graduate work by June 2013)

Visit the AAA Summer Internship Program webpage for the application. Application deadline is March 15, 2014.

Click here to support this Internship Program through a financial contribution.

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2014 Leadership Fellows Program

We are pleased to announce that AAA is now accepting applications to the 2014 Leadership Fellows Program. This program provides a unique opportunity for anthropologists early in their careers to learn about leadership opportunities within the association.  Each year a group of three to five fellows is paired with a mentor chosen from among AAA leadership.  Mentors are available to fellows throughout the year to answer questions related to AAA.  Fellows shadow their mentors at the AAA Annual Meeting in meetings of the Executive Board, Association Committees, and Section Committees. In addition, fellows are invited to attend the AAA Donors Reception and a Leadership Fellows Social bringing together past and present cohorts of fellows.

Past Fellows have told us that their experience in the program “demystified the decision-making processes,” “fostered a strong network for me of young anthropologists,” and “gave me a better sense as to how to manage the AAA meetings.” Many go on to assume leadership roles in sections and committees after their term as a Fellow. According to Rebecca Galemba (U Denver), 2012 Leadership Fellow, had she not participated in the Leadership Fellows Program, she might not have had the courage to apply for undesignated seat on the AAA Committee on Gender Equity in Anthropology. Heide Castañeda (U South Florida), 2011 Leadership Fellow, credits the Leadership Fellows Program with helping her achieve tenure by bringing visibility to her interest in service and leadership within the larger discipline of anthropology.

Learn more about the benefits of the Leadership Fellows Program and submit your application online. Applications must be submitted by March 15.

All questions should be directed to Courtney Dowdall (cdowdall@aaanet.org).

New Podcast Features Dr. Julienne Rutherford

Listen to the latest podcast, featuring biological anthropologists, Dr. Julienne Rutherford.

Dr. Rutherford in front of portrait entitled Psychedelic Placenta, by Mark Mershon, University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Nursing

Dr. Rutherford in front of portrait entitled Psychedelic Placenta, by Mark Mershon, University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Nursing

Julienne Rutherford earned her PhD in Biological Anthropology from Indiana University in 2007. She is an assistant professor of Women, Children, and Family Health Sciences and adjunct assistant professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She is currently the President of the Midwest Primate Interest Group. She is also the Biological Anthropology Section editor for Anthropology News. She was named a Leadership Fellow by the AAA in 2011, and was the 2013 recipient of the American Society of Primatologists Legacy Award. She was recently named the UIC Researcher of the Year “Rising Star” in the Clinical Sciences.

Rutherford’s research revolves around a central interest in the dynamic maternal environment in which a fetus develops. She is primarily interested in the primate placenta as a signaling interface between mother and fetus. She works with both humans and non-human primates to address questions regarding the effect of maternal ecology (nutrition, life history experience, behavior) on placental morphology, metabolic function, and gene expression and downstream sequelae for offspring health both postnatally and later in life. She has published her multifaceted research in American Anthropologist, Placenta, American Journal of Physical Anthropologists, American Journal of Primatology, American Journal of Human Biology, Obesity, and Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences. She recently co-edited the volume Building Babies: Primate Development in Proximate and Ultimate Perspective. Her research is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Society of Primatologists.

AAA Seeks Professional Fellow

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) is seeking to bring a post doc anthropologist on staff to lead its academic and practicing relations program.    This is a two-year fellowship that will provide an opportunity for an anthropologist to work with AAA leadership and staff to conduct research, identify and develop new programs and services for members.  Candidates should have a Ph.D. in anthropology. The fellow will work at the offices of AAA located in the DC metropolitan area.  Start date is August 5, 2104.   Stipend is $50,000 per year plus benefits.  For more information on this fellowship opportunity, click here.  The deadline to apply is March 15. Apply online or send a cover letter and CV/resume to aaajobs@aaanet.org.

New Podcast Features Dr. Kristen Ghodsee

ghodsee head shotListen to the latest podcast, featuring Anthropology News contributing editor, Dr. Kristen Ghodsee (Bowdoin College).

Kristen Ghodsee earned her Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley and is the Director and John S. Osterweis Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at Bowdoin College.  She is currently the President-elect of the Society for Humanistic Anthropology.  She is the author of The Red Riviera: Gender, Tourism and Postsocialism on the Black Sea (Duke University Press, 2005), Muslim Lives in Eastern Europe: Gender, Ethnicity and the Transformation of Islam in Postsocialist Bulgaria (Princeton University Press, 2009), Lost In Transition: Ethnographies of Everyday Life After Socialism (Duke University Press, 2011), and numerous articles on gender, nostalgia, and Eastern Europe.  She is also the co-author of Professor Mommy: Finding Work/Family Balance in Academia (Rowman & Littlefield, 2011).  Her fifth book, The Left Side of History: Communism, Idealism and Remembering World War II, is forthcoming with Duke University Press in 2015.

Ghodsee is the recipient of fellowships from the National Science Foundation, Fulbright, NCEEER, IREX and ACLS, and has been awarded internationally competitive residential research fellowships at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC; the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, New Jersey; the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Study (FRIAS) in Germany.  

In 2012, she was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in Anthropology and Cultural Studies.  

The AAA Minority Dissertation Fellowship

Today’s guest blog post is from Shalini ShankarChair of the Committee for Minority Interests in Anthropology (CMIA), Monica Heller, AAA President and AAA CMIA Staff Liaison, Emilia Guevara

We’ve received some excellent questions from our members about the AAA Minority Dissertation Fellowship. The main question is whether only US citizens are eligible to apply, and if so, why. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to clarify the situation and to provide additional information.

This fellowship was created in 1999 as a concrete expression of AAA’s opposition to institutional racism in the United States. More specifically, the fellowship is part of AAA’s broader aim to address the historical underrepresentation of racialized minority groups within U.S. anthropology. Extensive fundraising over several years resulted many donations from a wide range of sources, allowing us to set up a permanent fund for this fellowship. We take seriously members’ sentiment that these opportunities should be broader, and include both “dreamers” (students who grew up in the US without legal recognition of their status) and racialized minority students from other countries. At the same time, we remain committed to the original intent of the fellowship and, as underrepresentation of racialized minority groups persists in the US, we cannot lose sight of the communities it was originally intended to address. The President has therefore asked the Committee for Minority Issues in Anthropology (CMIA), which oversees the fellowship, to address this complex issue, and to report to the Executive Board by May 2014 on ways to broaden access to financial and other means of support for racialized minorities.

Office of Science and Technology Policy is now accepting Summer 2014 Internship Program Applications

The Office of Science and Technology Policy is currently accepting applications for its Summer 2014 Internship Program.  The application deadline is 11:59pm Friday, March 7.  Students who are U.S. citizens and who will be actively enrolled during the 2014 academic year are welcome to apply.

More information and application instructions are available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/ostp/about/student/

About OSTP.  The Office of Science and Technology Policy advises the President on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs. The office serves as a source of scientific and technological analysis and judgment for the President with respect to major policies, plans and programs of the Federal Government.

About the Internship Program.  Interns are accepted for one of three annual terms (Spring, Summer, or Fall), which each last no more than 90 days. While these positions are without compensation, the assignments provide educational enrichment, practical work experience, and network opportunities with other individuals in the science and technology policy arena.

For questions, please contact Rebecca Grimm rgrimm@ostp.eop.gov.

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