• 2016 AA Editor Search
  • Open Anthropology
  • Latest AAA Podcast

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 16,799 other followers

Article on Ethics by Anthropologists

Interesting new article written by the Chair of the Task Force for Comprehensive Ethics Review, Dena Plemmons, and the former Chair of the Commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with the US Security and Intelligence Communities, Robert Albro, is on the Social Science Research Council website.  The article looks at the issue of ethics in the social sciences.  Click here to read this article.

Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) Solicitation

The National Science Foundation’s Office of International Science and Engineering has published a new Partnerships for International Research and Education solicitation.  This round will be exclusively focused on sustainability through an interdisciplinary approach.

The preliminary proposals are due October 19, 2011.  For more information please click here  and tune into the Webinar on July 28, at 3pm which will share information on the Partnership for International Research and Education and answer questions about the solicitation.


Grant Opportunity for Cultural Anthropology

The National Science Foundation is offering a grant opportunity for cultural anthropology.  The deadline for the fall funding cycle is August 16, 2011.

This grand is through the Cultural Anthropology Program at the NSF.  The research may be at any scale from local to global so long as it will contribute to theory which is temporally and spatially specific and extends understanding beyond the individual case study.

This grant is open to anthropologist at all levels of their careers as well as for proposals for workshops and training programs or to supplement current awards to support Research Experience for Undergraduates and Graduates.  All sub-fields of cultural anthropology are eligible.

For more information please click here.

Grant Opportunity for Methodological Training

The National Science Foundation is offering a grant opportunity for cultural anthropologists who are active researchers to upgrade their methodological skills.  The purpose of this grant is to help cultural anthropologists improve their research abilities through learn a specific analytical technique.

The deadline is August 16, 2011. For more information please click here.

Nominations are being accepted for the American Association for the Advancement of Science Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award

According to AAAS, the Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award is given to scientists or engineers or their associations whose exemplary actions have served to foster scientific freedom and responsibility. Such achievements can include: acting to protect the public’s health, safety or welfare; focusing public attention on important potential impacts of science and technology on society by their responsible participation in public policy debates; or establishing important new precedents in carrying out the social responsibilities or in defending the professional freedom of scientists and engineers.

This prestigious award has been given since 1980. The successful candidate receives a plaque and $5000 and is honored at a ceremony at the AAAS Annual Meeting.

The award is open to all regardless of nationality or citizenship. Additionally, although some award winners are distinguished scientists or scholars, this is not a requirement for award selection.

The nomination deadline is September 1, 2011.

Please click here for information on nomination procedures and a list of past recipients.

For more information or for guidance before beginning the nomination process please contact Deborah Runkle at 202.326.6794 or drunkle@aaas.org.

The Root Article: 15 Facts You Ought to Know About Race

The Root is an online magazine that provides commentary on important newsworthy events from a black perspective. A recent multimedia posting highlights the traveling exhibition, Race: Are We So Different?, by the American Anthropological Association funded by the Ford Foundation and the National Science Foundation which is currently at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. In the Root article curator of the exhibit, Yolanda Moses, discusses the intention of the Race project as well as 15 facts you ought to know about race. This innovative multimedia article debunks common myths pretaining to race and racisim.

Action Alert: Protect Federal Funding for the NSF

Yesterday the House Appropriations Subcommitee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies passed legislation that recommends $5.6 billion in funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and while that number is a $43 million dollar increase over last year’s funding level, it’s a full $646 million less than what was originally requested by the President in his budget request.

A commitment from the current Administration towards developing competent and productive scientific research in all disciplines should be honored by the Appropriations Committee. Furthermore, a multi-disciplinary approach to research and development of technologies for economic and social growth is an important tool utilized by scientists today and should be allowed to continue as it is an approach that has fueled American progress for decades. As the Committee outlined its funding priorities in its legislation, it excluded the areas of scientific research listed under the NSF Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE). This lack of attention to the SBE will inhibit scientific progress and international competitiveness.

Contact your member of Congress and Members of the Appropriations Committee and ask them to support the President’s budget request for the NSF, and outline the work of the SBE as a priority for the agency.

Action Alert: Protect Federal Funding for Humanites

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies has proposed budget cuts  in its FY 2012 spending bill.

Funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) were set at $135 million; for NEH this reflects a $20 million cut from last year’s funding level and $11 million less than what was requested by the President in his budget request.

If these drastic cuts are enacted, the National Endowment for the Humanities will see cuts to its core programs and services and their ability to award grants will be severely limited.

-From the National Humanities Alliance:

There is a clear federal role in supporting the humanities, just as there is for the sciences and other fields. NEH grants help support the nation’s education and research infrastructure for fields including history, languages, literature, law, government, philosophy, cultural anthropology, the study of religion, and other subjects. The knowledge and competencies represented by these fields are critical to a broad range of U.S.interests, including: fostering a globally competitive workforce, strengthening civic engagement and understanding, preserving the nation’s historic and cultural resources, and developing expertise to meet local, national, and global challenges.

Please contact your local Congressman or a  member of the House Appropriations Committee to share your concerns and advocate for the President’s level of funding; a full list of members can be found here.

Inside the President’s Studio – Tom Boellstorff

(click to listen)

Hosted by AAA President Virginia R. Dominguez, “Inside the President’s Studio” features interviews with anthropologists about their ideas, research and passions. It is part of an ongoing effort to foster public, visible and active engagement with anthropologists. Become a part of the conversation by reading and listening to the interviews, adding your comments to the blog, and suggesting people or topics for future pieces.

This month the studio features  Tom Boellstorff, Editor-in-Chief of American Anthropologist.


(1) What are you most passionate about–in life? In your work?

Working for intellectual inquiry and social justice, and feeling like I am living my life to the fullest. The joy of being overwhelmed.

(2) What were you like in junior high school? Rebellious? Studious? Popular? Shy? Intense?

Nerdy and shy. Being gay in junior high school in Nebraska and Oklahoma in the 1980s was not easy.

(3) When and how did you first encounter anthropology? And when did you decide to embrace it as a profession? Do you remember the moment?

I remember when, as an undergraduate, a friend of mine said “I’ve decided to study anthropology,” and for some strange reason I had a premonition and thought “I will do that someday.” (That friend of mine is still an anthropologist herself!)

(4) I know that you consider yourself a linguistic anthropologist, but I bet that many people who read your books or “meet” you in your current role as Editor-in-Chief of AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST do not know that. How important is your linguistic anthropology training to your current work? Or even to your professional sense of self?

My undergraduate majors were in music and linguistics. But for my final two years in college at Stanford, I did independent studies with Joseph Greenberg and became almost a secretary to him. He was, of course, retired at that time, but he devoted incredible time to me and his work on language typology, language and thought, and other topics influences me to this day. After a year of gay activist work after college, I entered the Ph.D. program in linguistics at Berkeley and worked in cognitive linguistics, studying under George Lakoff and Eve Sweetser. After only a year I realized it wasn’t the right thing for me and left the program, working for another year for an HIV/AIDS nonprofit before entering the Ph.D. program in Anthropology at Stanford.

So my training is very odd in this way. I never really trained in linguistic anthropology; I trained in pure linguistics as both an undergraduate and for a year in graduate school. And because I never took any anthropology courses before entering graduate school, it was only while earning my Ph.D. that I really became exposed to linguistic anthropology. I ended up co-editing a book on language and sexuality (Speaking in Queer Tongues) and writing an article published in Journal of Linguistic Anthropology about gay language in Indonesia.

Now, I get to teach undergraduate courses on linguistic anthropology from time to time, and teach language theory in many of my graduate courses as well. It remains important to me and, for instance, if you look at my research on virtual worlds, you’ll see I’m often attending to language and incorporating language theory. Indeed, a keystone of my new project is using theories of indexicality to rethink “digital anthropology,” given the origin of “digital” in “digit,” the pointing finger. It’s also important to my professional sense of self in that it reminds me of the odd paths by which so many of us come to our interests and passions; I tell my story to graduate students sometimes to illustrate how you don’t have to know from the outset “what you will be.”

(5) People who read your work on “Second Life” may be surprised to know that much of your earlier work dealt with sexuality and gender, and I bet the same is true of those who read your sexuality/gender work first. How do you respond to people who express genuine surprise (and interest) in the change of topic? (I know you have immersed yourself deeply in both and do not know if you like thinking about the connections between the two overall projects and delighting in explaining it to others.)

It’s usual for anthropologists after their first research projects (based on their dissertations) to want to try a new research project. In some cases there’s a very close link to the earlier work, in some cases it’s somewhat different, and in some cases really different! In my own case, I really wanted to try something very different from my original work. I’d always been interested in technology and got curious about studying virtual worlds. I purposely decided not to focus on sexuality because of wanting to try something different, so while I discuss sexuality in Coming of Age in Second Life, it’s not the core topic of the book.

I’ve enjoyed doing both projects in parallel even though it’s been a lot of work. So, for instance, my 2009 American Ethnologist article “Nuri’s Testimony” and my June 2011 Cultural Anthropology article “But Do Not Identify as Gay” are about my sexuality work, not the virtual worlds work. Once my term as Editor-in-Chief of American Anthropologist ends next year, I plan on some research that will bring the projects together in new ways. I enjoy both the distinctiveness of the projects, and then putting them together in ways that surprise me.

(6) What makes you sad?

Injustice, talent wasted, lives cut short. Doing so much work on HIV/AIDS over the years has really impressed this upon me.

(7) What makes you mad?

See the above.

(8) What is one thing that only close friends know about you that you are now willing to share with others?

Nothing really springs to mind. I think this might be part of my own particular experience as a gay man; I’ve been shaped by a discourse of selfhood where being “out,” open about myself, has been very important–because I have seen the terrible power of silence. ACT-UP got it so right, early on in the HIV/AIDS pandemic, with the “SILENCE = DEATH” slogan.

(9) Have you ever considered holding public office, starting an NGO, or devoting yourself directly or fully to political advocacy? Do you find yourself laughing at this question or surprised that I would ask?

It’s a great question, not surprising at all, but it has a dark side. I was in Moscow during the 1991 coup attempt, working underground with gay activists and then using computers the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission had brought over (and were in my apartment) to help print fliers for the pro-democracy resistance. I was Regional Coordinator at the Institute for Community Health Outreach in San Francisco and worked with that organization for many years, and have sat on the Board of Directors for that organization, Mobilization Against AIDS, and others. My first two trips to Indonesia I wasn’t even in graduate school yet; I was an HIV/AIDS and gay activist. I’ve helped many LGBT and HIV/AIDS nonprofits in Indonesia and still serve on the advisory board for two; one of them had their inaugural meeting in my apartment in 1993. I’ve also been involved in a lot of community activism in Long Beach, California, where I live.

So, on the one hand, activism has been central to my life; indeed, it was my path into academia. On the other hand, we can never forget the strains of anti-intellectualism in American society and never want to inadvertently strengthen them. I think that anthropologists who do no clearly identifiable activist work are completely legitimate, and that intellectual work is valuable on its own terms. It is not being ensconced in an ivory tower but being engaged in the human journey. Not everyone has to take the activist route I have taken, nor do I or anyone else needs to take it through our whole lives. Of course, I encourage activist work and see no contradiction between activist work and rigorous intellectual work. So the point is that for me it has been very important, and I encourage others to work for social justice and also for greater visibility for anthropology in public discourse, but also that intellectual work is activism, even if its effects are not always immediately apparent.

(10) What is the one question you wish I had asked but didn’t?

What are the challenges and benefits of anthropological publishing now and into the future? But that we can discuss another day!

Why a Public Anthropology?

In the latest issue of American Anthropologist, David Vine thoughtfully reviews Robert Borofsky’s Center for a Public Anthropology and its four major projects. Vine discusses the role the Center has played outside the world of academia and includes discussion on the highly successful and innovative Community Action Project. This unique project  teaches university students how to craft op-ed pieces on ethical issues in anthropology and are encouraged to send these letters to politicians, and newspapers demanding action. Currently, 8,000 U.S. students a year from 66 colleges and universities participate in the project in an online format.

The June 2011 issue of American Anthropologist, available now on AnthroSource (free to members of the AAA) to read full-text articles.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 16,799 other followers