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Webinar Wednesdays: Engaging Anthropology

Save the date for Webinar Wednesdays!

In 2014, the American Anthropological Association will host a monthly webinar series on the third Wednesday of the month on a variety of topics to engage anthropologists.

Dr. Riall NolanThe first webinar topic is professional development and career building for anthropologists outside of the academy. Dr. Riall Nolan of Purdue University will lead this first webinar and share tips on CV writing, job searching, interviewing and much more.

This webinar will be of particular interest to advanced graduate students, those who have recently earned their PhD and those seeking practicing anthropology careers.

The webinar is free; however, registration is required at: https://aaanetevents.webex.com/aaanetevents/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=663078462
Password: anthropology

Denver Museum to Return Totems to Kenyan Museum

Have you read the article featuring AAA members, Chip Colwell-Chanhaphonh (Denver Museum of Nature and Science), Linda Giles (Illinois Wesleyan U), Stephen Nash (Denver Museum of Nature and Science) and Monica Udvardy (U Kentucky), regarding the return of the totems to the National Museums of Kenya?

Here’s an excerpt:

Now, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science says it has devised a way to return the 30 vigango it received as donations in 1990 from two Hollywood collectors, the actor Gene Hackman and the film producer Art Linson. The approach, museum officials say, balances the institution’s need to safeguard its collection and meet its fiduciary duties to benefactors and the public with the growing imperative to give sanctified objects back to tribal people.

“The process is often complicated, expensive and never straightforward,” said Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh, the museum’s curator of anthropology. “But just because a museum is not legally required to return cultural property does not mean it lacks an ethical obligation to do so.”

The museum this month will deliver its 30 vigango (pronounced vee-GON-go; the singular form is kigango) to the National Museums of Kenya. Officials there will choose whether to display the objects, hunt through the nation’s hinterlands for their true owners and original sites, or allow them to decay slowly and ceremoniously, as was intended by their consecrators. Whatever they opt to do, Kenyan officials say, sovereignty over the objects should be theirs and not in the hands of foreign museums.  (The details of the transfer are still being negotiated.)

But repatriating them takes far more than addressing a parcel. No federal or international laws prevent Americans from owning the totems, while Kenyan law does not forbid their sale. And the Kenyan government says that finding which village or family consecrated a specific kigango is arduous, given that many were taken more than 30 years ago and that agricultural smallholders in Kenya are often nomadic.

Some 20 institutions in the United States own about 400 of the totems, according to Monica L. Udvardy, a professor of anthropology at the University of Kentucky and an expert on Kenyan culture who has studied and tracked vigango for 30 years. She said that Kenyans believe that vigango are invested with divine powers and should never have been removed from their sites and treated as global art commodities. Kenyan officials have made constant pleas to have the objects sent back.

Read the entire article at The New York Times.

Webinar Wednesdays: Engaging Anthropology

Save the date for Webinar Wednesdays!

In 2014, the American Anthropological Association will host a monthly webinar series on the third Wednesday of the month on a variety of topics to engage anthropologists.

Dr. Riall NolanThe first webinar topic is professional development and career building for anthropologists outside of the academy. Dr. Riall Nolan of Purdue University will lead this first webinar and share tips on CV writing, job searching, interviewing and much more.

This webinar will be of particular interest to advanced graduate students, those who have recently earned their PhD and those seeking practicing anthropology careers.

The webinar is free; however, registration is required at: https://aaanetevents.webex.com/aaanetevents/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=663078462
Password: anthropology

Rare Tlingit War Helmet Discovered at Springfield Science Museum

SPRINGFIELD, MA – Stored on a shelf for over 100 hundred years, a rare anthropological treasure was recently discovered in the Springfield Science Museum’s permanent collections. Museum Director David Stier, who has worked in museums collections for almost 30 years, describes the discovery as nothing less than “the find of a lifetime.”

The mystery began to unfold when Museum staffers began to select objects from the over 200,000 items in the Museum’s collections for a new display titled “People of the Northwest Coast.” Dr. Ellen Savulis, the Science Museum’s Curator of Anthropology, was intrigued by one of the items described in collections records as simply an “Aleutian hat.”  The object was relatively large, ornately carved, and made from a single piece of dense wood. Although Dr. Savulis’ main area of expertise is Northeastern United States archaeology, she had the foresight to question whether hats made by the Unangax, the inhabitants of the Aleutian Islands, were typically made from such dense wood. Upon further investigation, Dr. Savulis found that the only type of wooden hat made in the treeless Aleutians is the hunting hat or visor, made from a thin plank of driftwood bent into a lopsided cone.None of this information matched the object she had in front of her.

TlingitHelmet2Dr. Savulis suspected that she had a helmet of some kind, and enlisted the help of Steve Henrikson, Curator of Collections at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau.  After hearing the description and an extensive viewing of artifact images, Mr. Henrikson responded enthusiastically, “This is a Tlingit war helmet, absolutely, no question!”  He went on to say that “it’s very rare – there are less than 100 Tlingit war helmets in existence that we know of. I’ve been studying them for over 20 years and I’m sure I’ve seen most of them.”

Museum records show that the artifact was accepted into collections sometime after 1899, the year that the Springfield Science Museum (formerly the Museum of Natural History) moved into its own building at the Quadrangle.  The source of the artifact was not known, and it carried the simple label “Aleutian hat.” Having limited experience with cultural materials, museum specialist Albertus Lovejoy Dakin accepted the accuracy of the object’s label and entered it as such in the collection records. Some 40 years later the artifact received a permanent museum collection number from museum director Leo D. Otis, who still had no reason to dispute the “Aleutian hat” claim. There the artifact remained in its spot in the permanent collections, carefully preserved and unheralded, waiting to be found.

According to Mr. Henrikson, we now know that the object is indeed a war helmet from the Tlingit people of southeast Alaska.  The style of the carving and decoration on the helmet (probably the emblem of a clan) dates it to the mid-19th century or earlier. With the mass importation of firearms to the region in the mid-1800’s, this sort of body armor became relegated to ceremonial uses. Today, a few helmets are still brought out at ceremonial gatherings, such as potlatches, to commemorate prominent events and honor past clan elders.  Because they are associated with combat, the helmets are not actually worn on the head during such peaceful gatherings, but are instead held in hand or perhaps held over the head of someone needing spiritual support.

Henrikson estimates that there are approximately 95 war helmets in existence today, mostly in large museum collections. Many of these were collected by Russian explorers on the battlefield following clashes with the Tlingit. The largest collection of Tlingit armor is at the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology in St. Petersburg.

Beginning as protection for Tlingit warriors in battle, war helmets today serve the Tlingit as healing reminders of their rich and ancient history.  A glimpse of this rich history can be seen starting Thursday, December 26, when the helmet will be placed on display for the first time since arriving in Springfield over a century ago.

Save the Date – National Humanities Alliance Humanities Advocacy Day

NHA - Humanities Day - 2014The National Humanities Alliance will hold its 2014 Annual Meeting and Humanities Advocacy Day March 10-11 in Washington, D.C. 

 This unique event provides opportunities for participants to:

  • connect with a growing network of humanities leaders from around the country; 
  • communicate the value of humanities research, education, programming, and preservation to Members of Congress; 
  • explore national humanities policy; and 
  • become year-round advocates for the humanities. 

Sessions and events will be held at George Washington University and on Capitol Hill.

Registration

Registration and meeting information is available here.  

  • Early registration:           $75      Deadline: December 31
  • Advance registration:      $90      Deadline: January 31
  • Regular registration:       $100     Deadline: March 1

Hotel Accommodations

A block of hotel rooms has been reserved at the Capitol Hill Hotel at a discounted rate of $229/night for March 8-11.  To make a reservation, call 800-619-9468 or 202-543-2941 and ask for the National Humanities Alliance block rate, using the group code NHA0314.  Availability is limited and hotel reservations must be made no later than February 6, 2014.

Society for Economic Anthropology Call for Papers

SEA LogoSEA 2014 “Energy & Economy”
April 24 – 26, 2014
Austin, TX
ABSTRACT SUBMISSION DEADLINE: DECEMBER 15
Please visit the SEA webpage to read the CFP and submit an abstract.

Anthropologists have a long, if uneven, history of engagement with studies of energy and economy – from the use of wind in ancient exchange and the effects of domestication on production, to the contemporary dependence on the consumption of fossil fuels. While Leslie White most explicitly incorporated energy in his mid-century macroevolutionary model, the discipline’s engagements with energy and economy include a wide variety of approaches ranging from cultural ecology and systems-based approaches to political ecology and ecofeminism. Despite these diverse engagements, economistic understandings of the relationship between energy and economy continue to dominate the intellectual and policy landscape.  Anthropological insights, however, make it clear that actual human engagements with energy almost never follow a simple logic of economic efficiency. What can the historical, material and ethnographic records tell us about the empirical relationships between the environment, economy, culture, and energy use? Better analysis of these mutually influencing relationships enriches scholarship and has critical policy relevance – particularly given the urgent need for a transition to less carbon-intensive energy sources.
Human societies have always relied on continued resource inputs, yet explicit consideration of energy is often neglected in social scientific work. Perhaps this is due to energy’s invisibility – its doxic, taken-for-granted flow as mysterious to most people as its effects are profound and ubiquitous. Uneven social, political economic, and environmental impacts simultaneously accompany these flows in a global circuitry of energy and trade that is as cultural as it is physical, bringing different, intersecting forms of power into perspective.
Energy flows, then, are at the very foundations of economic provision and therefore provide a compelling lens through which to examine the economic affairs of any society.
We are especially keen on stimulating interdisciplinary engagement with the meeting theme. SEA 2014 is thus planned in conjunction with the SAA meetings in Austin, Texas and we strongly encourage submissions from archaeologists, and other anthropologists, as well as economists, historians and other scholars of the human condition. Texas will provide a particularly relevant backdrop for SEA 2014 given the state’s notable energy resources and significant influence on US and global energy policy. Austin is an especially pleasant setting, with delightful spring weather and a vibrant music scene.

We welcome anthropologically informed and theoretically relevant papers and posters that address (but are certainly not limited to) the following questions:

Economic Theory: concepts, method, professional practice, interdisciplinaryWhat fundamental reorientations of theory and method are needed to widen appreciation of humanity’s past, present and future dependence on energy flows? What theories and methodologies are most useful for understanding shifts between energy regimes? What are the most promising ethnographic frontiers for understanding the transition away from the fossil fuel era? How can a long-term perspective incorporating non-industrial societies bolster how we envision energy flows and human-environmental relations?  How might we best think about vulnerability, sustainability and resilience? Should economic anthropologists resume measuring food, fuel and labor in terms related to advances in environmental economics or human ecology? How might renewed attention to energy reunite or reconfigure four-field anthropology?
Production: environmental interfaces, labor, work, social structuring
How can we best categorize diversity in the cultural and material production of energy – from energy used to fuel human labor and the fire used to smelt iron, to the biological, nuclear and solar technologies now being explored? How have prehistoric and more contemporary social groups resisted particular energy regimes even when technological or labor capacities may have allowed them?  What role has energy played in the development and reorganization of societies? How have historical and contemporary energy regimes shaped and been shaped by social and political relations?  What are the physical, social, cultural, political and economic ramifications of extracting, processing and using carbon-intensive fuels and growing renewable electricity?
Exchange: energy, social circuitry, markets, commodification
How has energy affected the ways market and non-market exchange shapes social connection and dislocation? How do we best account for the energy embodied in goods and services exchanged? How are gender, age, kinship, class and other dimensions of social organization related to energy? What are the possibilities for incorporating externalities in market-based efforts to speed energy transitions? What are the impacts when we commodify resources necessary for life? How is money related to energy flow?
Consumption: style, status, decision making
How are habitus, consumption styles, status desires, and imaginaries related to the flow of energy involved in people’s ongoing construction of meaning and identity? How can energy and other resource demand from a growing middle class in BRIC and other countries be understood and accommodated? How might we interpret flat to declining energy use in the OECD/developed countries? What can economic anthropologists contribute to understanding peoples’ use of renewable energy technologies, distributed energy, smart grids, private electricity generation, etc.?
Economic & Energy Transitions: governance, finance, movements and the future
What precedents in the archaeological and historical record could help us understand the economic and social implications of slow vs. sudden shocks in energy supply? What is the minimum net energy surplus needed for societal functioning, and how useful is net energy analysis in our fields? What roles do debt and finance, including bubbles, play in the creation and reproduction of existing and potential energy regimes? How are modes of political and economic governance related to control over past, present and future energies? What is expertise, and how do experts affect the forecasting of possible energy futures? How are war and militaries part of past and future energy transitions? How have/can social movements shape(d) energy cultures?

Call for Papers: IUAES 2014 with JASCA

The Japanese Society of Cultural Anthropology (JASCA) invites anthropologists from around the world to our 50th Anniversary Conference to be held jointly with IUAES Inter-Congress 2014.

The conference aims to attract over 250 international delegates to Chiba City in Greater Tokyo. The theme will be The Future with/of Anthropologies. The language of the conference will be English.

The conference will take place from 15th to 18th May 2014.IUAES 2014 Logo

The Call for Papers is now open until January 9, 2014 . Please visit the website to view the list of accepted panels and propose your abstracts directly to specific panels.

All proposals must be made to specific panels via the ‘Propose a paper’ link found beneath the panel abstract on that panel’s webpage. Proposals should consist of:
•a paper title
•authors/co-authors
•a short abstract of fewer than 300 characters
•a long abstract of fewer than 250 words.

Proposals will be marked as pending until the end of the call for papers (9th January).

#AAA 2013 – Public Education Initiative on Migration and Displacement

The AAA’s new Public Education Initiative, focused on Migration and Displacement, seeks to bring an anthropological perspective to bear on important discussions occurring within and beyond the academy. As we begin to work on this national project, we are bringing together anthropologists to discuss key aspects of the theme. During this year’s annual conference, two roundtables will focus their attention on migration; those present will help to shed light on issues that merit serious attention. We ask you to participate in these roundtable events…help us as we begin to structure the content and general direction of what promises to be another important national project.
Friday Nov 22, 12:15-1:30pm (Chicago Hilton, Williford A): Society for Linguistic Anthropology Presidential Conversation on “Language and Mobility: Rethinking the Populations, Practices, and Places of ‘Migration.’”
panelists include Hilary Dick, Adrienne Shiu-Ming Lo, Jonathan Rosa, Alejandro Paz, Rosina Marquez Reiter, Monica Heller, Bonnie McElhinny, Shalini Shankar, Jan Blommaert, Susan Gal.
Saturday Nov.23, 12:15-1:30pm (Chicago Hilton, Astoria Room): PEI Special Events Panel on Anthropology and Migration
panelists include Leo Chavez, Anna Rios, Daina Sanchez, Pat Zavella, Lynn Stephen, Jonathan Xavier Inda.

Tonight’s the Night! AAA Plenary Session – ReImagining Education

Tonight is the Plenary Session! Below is a repost of the special message written by Plenary guest, Malcolm London:

Today’s guest blog post is by Malcolm London. London called the Gil-Scott Heron of this generation by Cornel West, is a young Chicago poet, activist & educator. Malcolm appears on PBS for the first TED Talk television program with John Legend & Bill Gates. Malcolm has shared stages with actor Matt Damon & Lupe Fiasco as a part of the The People Speak, Live! cast. Appears on Season 2 of TVOne’s Verses & Flow. Winner of Louder Than A Bomb Youth Poetry Festival 2011 and once a member of the Youth Adult Council at Steppenwolf Theatre. He is now a member of UCAN’s National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention & Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission. A passionate educator through Young Chicago Authors & Northwestern Legal Clinic apart of Rights to Power project where he visits communities introducing poetry workshops and performances linked to juvenile & social justice to hundreds of youth every year.

Malcolm LondonNo building has a story without a foundation. If we are building a future where the sky’s the limit, one without ceilings, one where all our children are heading in the right direction–upward–we must have a strong foundation. Join panelist Dr. Johnnetta Cole, director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art, Lila Leff,  founder of Umoja Student Development Corporation, Dr. Sofia Villenas, Associate Professor at Cornell University and myself, TED Speaker and educator through Young Chicago Authors and Northwestern Legal Clinic, as we discuss the necessary need for our culture, our true histories and our stories to be the foundations of our everyday curriculums. I encourage you to come out to the American Anthropological Association’s 112th Annual Meeting plenary session located at Hilton Hotel International Ballroom North (720 Michigan Avenue) November 20th, Wednesday evening at 6:00pm as we reimagine education.

We will be joined by four incredibly talented students I’ve been working with for the past two years from Simeon Career Academy’s poetry club, Writers Never Die, started by school counselor Patrick Kirkwood and teacher Lisa Roule, who will perform spoken word pieces at the AAA Plenary. As a Chicagoan and young organizer in this beautiful city, with beautiful buildings, I know its’ crumbling. Only half of the public school students’ graduate (that’s a failing grade) and public funding has and is taking a hard hit in this city, and nationally. While my work as an activist is to find out who is doing the punching, on this evening we will come together to inspire, challenge, invigorate and engage in fruitful dialogue as anthropologist, educators, students, parents, all loving human beings in hopes to continue to build toward the sky, while remembering and re-examining our histories, our foundations so we can reimagine our stories, and our education.

Join the This is Anthropology Team at the Annual Meeting!

Over 390 anthropologists have joined the AAA’s new public outreach website, www.thisisanthropology.org since it launched in November 2012! Thanks to all of you who already contributed photos and profiles to the website. This is Anthropology is always a work in progress and it is not too late to join. The development team for This Is Anthropology will be at the annual meeting in Chicago with even more new ways for you to participate. We hope you’ll join us at the events below:

Opening Reception

Join us at our booth during the Opening Reception in the Exhibit Hall on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 from 6:15-7:30 PM. In addition to the food and fun of the reception, we will be on hand with This is Anthropology swag (while supplies last!) and we’ll have our cameras rolling to capture some impromptu video interviews.

This is Anthropology Booth

Even if you can’t join us at the reception, stop by our booth in the Exhibit Hall to learn more about the website and how you can be a part of This is Anthropology. It’s never too late to create a profile on the site or to share TIA in your community.

Reaching A Broader Public: The “This Is Anthropology” Project Roundtable

Join Jason Miller and Charlotte Noble on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 from 12:15-1:30 PM in Hilton Conference Room 4M for a roundtable about the This is Anthropology project. After a brief discussion of the origin and goals of the site, we will open the floor for comments, feedback and a brainstorming of ideas for how to disseminate anthropology to a broader public.

Video Project

Finally, be on the look out for our roving camera crew during the meeting. We’re looking for anthropologists to answer one of five questions about anthropology on camera. The footage will be used to create short videos about what anthropology is, anthropological skills and careers and how to become an anthropologist.

Have further questions? Contact the TIA team at thisisanthropology@aaanet.org or participate in our conversations at #thisisanthro on Twitter!

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