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Where Can We Go From Here: Documenting and Addressing Race and Racism in the Discipline

Today’s guest blog post is by the Task Force on Race and Racism in Anthropology co-chair, Dr. Raymond Codrington (Codrington Consulting)

Anthropology & Race/ism
Anthropology has made significant contributions to academic and popular understandings of race and racism. It’s challenged commonly held notions of identity and justice while illuminating structural disparities that are based on racial identity.

Today’s racism is coded and less overt, but it effectively continues policies and practices that restrict racialized minorities’ access to social and economic equality. Anthropologists continue to name, analyze and challenge coded policies in recent pieces such as Faye Harrison’s Who Has the Right to Self-Defense and Life in So-Called “Post-Racial” Society?, President’s Mullings’ discussion of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act and Dana-Ain Davis and Christa Craven’s discussion on race and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Unfortunately, race still plays a noticeable role in structuring the discipline. And this in turn helps maintain outdated public perceptions of anthropology as racially white.

The AAA recently took steps to address these issues. Last year, AAA President Leith Mullings formed the Task Force on Race and Racism in Anthropology to develop specific plans for recruitment and retention that will increase the numbers of racialized minority anthropologists in the anthropological workforce. This effort deliberately builds on previous efforts to address race in the discipline that go back forty-some years, to the Minority Experience in Anthropology (1973), and the more recent 2010 Commission on Race and Racism in Anthropology.

The Task Force on Race & Racism in Anthropology is charged with suggesting specific mechanisms for implementing the recommendations of the 2010 Commission.

What we’ve done so far:

Developed an online membership survey to learn about and analyze the current status of racialized anthropologists in the profession. It contains general questions and specific sections addressed to faculty, to students and to practitioners to get a broad sense of the discipline across race and ethnicity. The survey should provide a baseline of data and understanding from which to measure our progress going forward. Survey data will give a snapshot of the state of racial diversity and racial climate and the experience of racialized minorities today. It will also guide efforts to design interventions and improve the outcomes for racialized minorities in the discipline.

Worked with AAA staff to develop a webpage that will gather in one place a variety of information about race and racism in anthropology, including current works about race by anthropologists as well as links to initiatives, section programs, activities, and opportunities of interest to racialized minority anthropologists.

Organized a strategy session for Chicago with subfield and section leadership to develop specific best practices for recruiting students of color to the discipline, as well as recruiting and retaining racialized minority faculty, especially in subfields where they are severely underrepresented. The 2013 annual meetings will include a Task Force sponsored Presidential Workshop, Numbers Matter: How Do We Create a More Racially Diverse Anthropology? Section and subfield participants will share their knowledge about opportunities, challenges, and best practices in regard to recruitment and retention. The event will engage in open dialogue about the strengths and weaknesses of programs within their section or subfield. The workshop will also consider ways that the AAA can publicize and enhance existing programs such as summer internships, travel grants, and career development workshops that target students of color. The event is open to those who are actively engaged around these issues as well as those who want to learn more about their context and experiences.

What you can do:

Take the online survey. We will announce the survey launch on the AAA’s blog as well as through target mailing through various listservs.

Attend the Presidential Workshop event on recruitment and retention in Chicago entitled Numbers Matter: How Do We Create a More Racially Diverse Anthropology on Friday November 22 at 12:15-1:30. Please consult the AAA Annual Meeting Program for room location.

The Task Force hopes to facilitate a more open and inclusive dialogue on race and racism in the discipline through structured dialogue that is informed by both quantitative and qualitative data. From this approach, a more measured conversation will hopefully follow that is focused on strategic interventions that will benefit the discipline as a whole. More generally, we would like to bring the discussion of race and racism in line with other professional associations such as the APA, ASA who have defined policies around diversity and closely monitor and document statistics in regard race, diversity and inclusion on an annual basis. We feel that anthropology has the great potential to reframe the relationship between race, research and practice that can have implications within and beyond the discipline.

Raymond Codrington, Ph.D.
Codrington Consulting

RFP – Small Grants for Developing Ethics Curricular Materials

The AAA Small Grants Program seeks to foster the development and use of curricular materials for the teaching and communication of ethics and ethical practice across the discipline of anthropology. Administered by the AAA Committee on Ethics, this small grant program encourages the awareness of and innovation in ethics curricular materials used in introductory, undergraduate, and graduate classes. Proposals for the development of curricular materials in a variety of forms are welcome, including texts, films, blogs, websites, exhibits, and other innovative media forms.  The grant recipient(s) will have ten months to complete these new curricular materials, the results of which will be featured in the “Ethical Currents” column of the December issue of Anthropology News as well as on the AAA ethics blog, and highlighted at the Annual Meeting.

The deadline for proposals is November 8, 2013.

Click here for eligibility, proposal format and submission details.

Julie Livingston Receives MacArthur Fellowship

Congratulations to Dr. Julie Livingston (Rutgers U)! Recently named a 2013 MacArthur Fellow, she is a medical historian who combines archival research with ethnography to explore the care and treatment of individuals suffering from chronic illnesses and debilitating ailments in Botswana. Click here to learn more about Dr. Livingston and her research. Click on the below image to watch an excerpt about her fellowship:

Julie Livingston

Julie was one of 24 individuals recognized in this year’s class of MacArthur Fellows. The press release by the MacArthur Foundation describes this class as “extraordinarily creative people who inspire us all”:

MacArthur named its 2013 class of MacArthur Fellows, recognizing 24 exceptionally creative individuals with a track record of achievement and the potential for even more significant contributions in the future.

Fellows will each receive a no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000 (increased from $500,000) paid out over five years. Without stipulations or reporting requirements, the Fellowship provides maximum freedom for recipients to follow their own creative vision.

“This year’s class of MacArthur Fellows is an extraordinary group of individuals who collectively reflect the breadth and depth of American creativity,” said Cecilia Conrad, Vice President, MacArthur Fellows Program. “They are artists, social innovators, scientists, and humanists who are working to improve the human condition and to preserve and sustain our natural and cultural heritage. Their stories should inspire each of us to consider our own potential to contribute our talents for the betterment of humankind.”

Calling All Anthropologists – We Need You for Back To School

Today’s guest blog post is by the 2013 AAA Annual Meeting Program Chairs, Dr. Dana-Ain Davis and Dr. Alaka Wali. Share your passion with the local community through the Back to School program this November!

Dear Colleagues,

We hope you will sign up to participate in the first Anthropologists Back to School event, to be held at the beginning of the 2013 AAA Annual Meeting on Tuesday, November 20 from 9am-12pm. The Program Co-Chairs and the Executive Program Committee have organized this special initiative to provide a way for all of us attending the Annual Meeting to give back to the city of Chicago. Through this program, we will inspire young people and their teachers to pursue anthropological forms of inquiry.

Photo Courtesy of The Huffington Post

Photo Courtesy of The Huffington Post

Undergraduate and Graduate students are encouraged to participate. Registration for the AAA Annual Meeting is not required to participate in Anthropologist Back to School. Sign up today!

Currently there are several exciting Anthropologists Back to School programs under development. Here is a sneak peek:

Elizabeth Chin is going to create a display on the story of Jefferson-Hemmings connections, using Barbie dolls at the South Side Community Arts Center.

Dvera Saxton will present on school district struggles against pesticide contamination at the Casa Michoacan.

Rosa Cabrera will present the amazing story of a mural at the Latino Cultural Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Gina Perez will also be there sharing her work on the award winning ethnography “The Near Northwest Side Story: Migration, Displacement, and Puerto Rican Families,” which focuses on Puerto Rican Life in Chicago and San Sebastian, Puerto Rico.

Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole and Dr. Kamela Heyward-Rotimi will be joined by Malcolm London, a Chicago resident, poet and activist at the Field Museum. They will be addressing stereotypes and myths about Africa and its 54 African nations, in addition to its diverse and dynamic people and cultures.

Come help showcase your work in anthropology to the wider public! We need you. Please sign-up now.

-Dana and Alaka
2013 AAA Annual Meeting Program Co-Chairs

JPASS – AAA’s newest benefit for members

In collaboration with JSTOR, AAA is pleased to offer you a special, discounted fee for JPASS, a new JSTOR access plan for individuals.


Designed for those without institutional access to the JSTOR archival collections, JPASS is ideal for AAA members working outside of the academy. It is also valuable for faculty members at institutions with limited access to JSTOR, and for adjuncts with sporadic access to library resources. Regardless of your institutional affiliation, JPASS serves as your personal library card to the rich selection of journals on JSTOR.

As part of your AAA membership, you are eligible to purchase a 1-year JPASS access plan for $99—a 50% discount on the listed rate. JPASS includes unlimited reading and 120 article downloads to more than 1,500 humanities, social science, and science journals in the JSTOR archival collections, including American Antiquity (full text content from 1935-2010), American Indian Quarterly (full text from 1974-2007), Anthropological Linguistics (full text 1959-2010), and American Journal of Archaeology (full text from 1897- 2007). Click here to view the complete JPASS journal list.

Log-in to AnthroGateway. On your My Information Page, click on the JPASS to purchase this members-only offer.


Statement by AAU Executive Committee on Support for the Social and Behavioral Sciences

Following is a newly released statement by the Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities on the importance of the federal investment in research in the social and behavioral sciences. The Association of American Universities is an association of 60 U.S. and two Canadian research universities organized to develop and implement effective national and institutional policies supporting research and scholarship, graduate and professional education, undergraduate education, and public service in research universities.

AAU logoOn behalf of the 62 leading research universities that make up the Association of American Universities, the AAU Executive Committee wishes to express its unequivocal support for federal funding of the social and behavioral sciences.

We make this statement now because of a number of disturbing actions indicating that some in Congress seek to relegate such research to a second-class status in federal research funding by imposing restrictions on it, or worse, barring federal funding of such research entirely.

These actions include a provision in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013 (P.L. 113-6) that puts new conditions on the funding of political science studies by the National Science Foundation (NSF), a provision proposed in a House subcommittee but not included in P.L. 113-6 that would have barred economic health research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and recent communications from Members of Congress which have questioned the value of social science research grants awarded by the NSF and other federal research agencies.

We understand that there are significant constraints on the discretionary funds that support research and education, and we strongly believe that taxpayer dollars used to fund research should be spent wisely.  Indeed, AAU has long supported merit-based allocation of federal research funds as the surest means of supporting the best science.

Even in the context of federal budget constraints, we believe that actions by Congress to defund or stigmatize entire disciplines of research would severely cripple, in principle and practice, the federal government’s historically productive commitment to the funding of basic research across all disciplines.  The social and behavioral sciences – anthropology, economics, political science, psychology, linguistics, sociology, among others – have been funded by NSF, NIH, the Department of Defense, and other federal agencies to directly support their missions by advancing fundamental new understanding of business and the economy, of human development and behavior, of groups and organizations, of other nations and cultures, and of our democracy and how it can be strengthened.  This research has been important to addressing the nation’s most pressing challenges in areas such as national security, education, commerce, health, energy, crime and public safety, and transportation.

For example, NSF-funded social sciences research has strengthened public safety by helping governments at all levels to prepare for and respond to natural disasters; made possible the development of life-saving kidney transplant exchanges; provided the Federal Communications Commission market-based auction tools for selling the electromagnetic spectrum to communications companies, maximizing both government revenue and economic use of the airwaves; provided the nation’s military with tools for educating personnel on nonverbal communication that is critical for troops working with non-English speaking citizens overseas, and compiled enormously useful longitudinal data in such areas as science, innovation, income and other economic indicators, political participation, health, violence, and social networks.

Insights and innovations from the social and behavioral sciences are no less valuable than discoveries in the physical and life sciences.  Moreover, interdisciplinary research engaging the social and behavioral sciences is producing new knowledge and understanding that would not have emerged from research within single disciplines.  In fact, many innovations and new technologies, such as touch screen tablets and mobile phones, rely upon knowledge and discoveries from the physical and life sciences combined with insights from the social and behavioral sciences.

The extraordinary success of federal research agencies such as NSF and NIH over the decades has been a result, in significant measure, of Congress providing strong funding of fundamental research across all disciplines based on proven merit-review processes and refraining from a political process of picking winners and losers among grants or disciplines. We urge Congress and the Administration to provide robust funding for federal research agencies without inappropriate restrictions, so that they can continue to fulfill their missions of supporting the full range of scientific research across all disciplines.

2014 Building Future Faculty Program Announcement

North Carolina State University will offer the 2014 Building Future Faculty Program on April 2-5, 2014. This is an all-expenses paid workshop for diverse graduate students and post-docs who are preparing for a faculty career. It is targeted to students who are currently about one year away from beginning a faculty job search. The workshop provides information about what to expect as a faculty member, the kinds of resources available to faculty for teaching, and the type of research productivity that is expected of faculty. During the workshop, participants spend time with faculty and department heads in their discipline discussing how to best prepare for this type of work, what the life of a faculty member is like, and receiving personal tips and feedback. The program aims to increase faculty diversity and inclusion.

Click here for more information about the 2014 Building Future Faculty Program is available at  along with the application form. Applications are due by November 10, 2013. For more information, contact Marcia Gumpertz (gumpertz@ncsu.edu).

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!

Who Teaches the Teachers?

In 2008, the Center for Innovation and Research in Graduate Education surveyed more than 3,000 PhDs to help “assess the career paths of PhDs and the quality of doctoral education in U.S. social science programs.” Many of their findings are very interesting in their own right, but Table 17 is the starting point for this post: only 37% of the respondents reported that there was formal instruction in teaching available in their doctoral programs; fewer than that (34%) reported formal supervision and evaluation of their teaching.

This raises the question: How, where, and when do most anthropologists who go on to teach learn how to teach?

Assuming that the answer is that most anthropologists are self-taught in the ways of the classroom through failure and success, I thought our autodidacts might be interested in some resources.

This 1999 Science article offers some good reflections on the topic. Its suggestions for resources include: Talk about teaching with your colleagues.

For some, with limited departmental or extradepartmental possibilities, this is harder to do and these readers might want to check out the AAA Teaching Materials Exchange to help pool and share ideas. Contribute your assignments, ideas, and syllabus. Investigate new readings and fresh discussion ideas. Contact your fellow teachers.

For others, this chatter might be virtual. The RAI developed a teaching forum. A huge number of our members have blogs (Anthro Brown Bag, Living Anthropologically, and Neuroanthropology come to the fore of my mind because they have content on teaching) for exploring and honing pedagogical ideas.

In the meanwhile, maybe you want to share your story of how, where and when you learned how to teach anthropology.

Anthropology and Archaeology Resource Network

Have you added your gray literature to the Anthropology and Archaeology Resource Network lately?

These anthropologists added their working paper and have received more than 4,000 abstract views and 1,400 downloads.

The Resource Development Committee raised funds to support AAA members and anthropologists in sharing their research faster and more efficiently. With donations for the Gray Literature Portal, AAA has partnered with the Social Science Resource Network (SSRN) to create the Anthropology and Archaeology Resource Network (AARN).

Photo Courtesy of SSRN.

Last summer AAA Director of Publishing, Oona Schmid met with SSRN President Gregg Gordon to discuss this opportunity for anthropologists. Listen to their conversation to learn about how gray is the new black in scholarly literature.


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