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New Changes to the AAA Annual Meeting Program

The AAA Meetings & Conference Department is pleased to announce a broad range of changes to the Annual Meeting, adopted by the Executive Board. These changes will enhance the Annual Meeting experience and better meet the needs of our members and attendees.  The following changes will begin for the 2014 annual meeting to be held in Washington, DC December 3-7.

In particular, new session types and configurations go into effect for the 2014 meeting. As parts of these have changed, we recommend reviewing them closely as you prepare your abstract for the 2014 meeting.

New Session Types

  1. Retrospective sessions
  2. Annual opening plenary session
  3. Permanent inclusion of Installations

Read more about session types at the Annual Meeting.

Session and Participation Transformations

  1. Elimination of double sessions
  2. Allocation of 1 invited session to the World Council of Anthropological Associations (WCAA)
  3. Unified submission deadline of April 15 for all invited, volunteered and installation sessions, as well as individual volunteered papers and posters
  4. Chair role no longer counts against the 1+1 role rule

Read more about presenting policies and roles at the Annual Meeting.

Other Aspects of the Meeting

  1. Fuller engagement with social media (Introduce E-Posters, create alternative media centers, create a Speakers’ Corner, and create opportunities for live-streaming presentations to/from the meeting)
  2. Provision of internet access to the all of AAA’s meeting spaces.
  3. Officially expand the Executive Program Committee (EPC) to approximately 10 members

For the complete announcement, objectives and rationale for these changes, please visit the New Program Changes webpage.

Help Us To Understand the Careers of Practicing And Professional Anthropologists as they relate to Academic Institutions

Are you a practicing or professional anthropologist working outside of an academic organization?  If so, are you collaborating in any way with an academic institution as part of your professional life?

We are aware from anecdotes that many practicing and professional anthropologists participate in the academic community in one way or another.  But we know little about what this participation is like, how academic responsibilities figure in their careers, and how practitioners are compensated for their academic commitments.  AAA’s Committee on Practicing, Applied and Public Interest Anthropology is seeking volunteers to share their experiences and views on this issue in a 30-minute phone interview.  We will draw on the data we collect to make available various models for department-practitioner collaboration and offer recommendations for appropriate compensation.

Please contact Sanne Roijmans at srijmans@memphis.edu if you would like to know more. We will follow up with more information on the survey and how you can participate.

AAA Is Moving Today

It is moving day here at the American Anthropological Association office.

Communication with the office will be temporarily out of service this afternoon so that we can move our servers and phone system to the new office.

As of Monday, June 24, we will be operating at our new address – 2300 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 1301, Arlington, VA 22012. Our telephone numbers and e-mail addresses will remain the same.

Stop in for a visit when you are in Arlington.AAA_moving_truck_small

Science, Advocacy and Anthropology

By Leith Mullings, Monica Heller, Ed Liebow and Alan Goodman


Do you remember the arcade game ‘Whack-a-Mole’? Plastic animals pop up at random from their holes in a table’s surface. The player bashes them back into their holes with a rubber mallet. As the pace picks up, initial delight is replaced by a growing sense of futility. Every time a mole is whacked back into its hole, another pops up somewhere else. The debate about whether science and advocacy are inimical is starting to feel like this.

It has popped up again in this week’s New York Times Magazine in reference to our discipline, anthropology. Contrary to some loudly voiced claims, both advocacy and science are (and long have been) at the core of our discipline. At the same time, of course, both continually raise important ethical questions requiring continued conversation, examination and debate; indeed, the American Anthropological Association recently approved a new statement on professional responsibilities. They both also require a commitment to good scholarship, and to lively but civil scholarly debate, in which arguments are considered persuasive because of a consistent body of evidence whose reliability and validity inspire confidence, not because of exceptional circumstances presented in a made-for-the-movies sensational fashion. (see also Professor Elizabeth Povinelli’s review of Noble Savages).

Let us use the problem of ‘race’ to illustrate the complex relationship between what counts as good or bad science, and significance of advocacy in anthropology. Our modern discipline’s origins are derived directly from an uncritical acceptance of, as well as a critical response to overt 19th and early 20th century ‘scientific racism.’ ‘Science’ legitimated prejudice and bigotry, holding that races were genetically separate and hierarchically ranked, and thus rationalizing slavery, Jim Crow laws and even genocide. And lest we think that ‘scientific racism’ is some archaic relic that was driven out of the public conversation, one need only consult the more recent arguments of authors such as Herrnstein, Murray, Rushton, Jensen, and Lynn.

In an attempt to bring sounder evidence to the debate, our Association’s current Race Project draws from all fields of anthropology and provides a modern, and eminently scholarly, understanding of race, casting a critical eye on race and racism through the lenses of history, science, and lived experience. The project, and the book that accompanies it, RACE: Are We So Different?, is also a form of advocacy, raising public awareness about how human variation differs from the popular, and sometimes even academic, notions of race. It argues, specifically, that 1) race is a recent human invention, 2) popular ideas about race emerge from history and culture, not biology, and 3) race and racism are embedded in institutions and everyday life.

The more general point is that at the very core of our discipline are commitments to the best of science and the best of advocacy. Advocacy suggests at minimum an ethical position to try to protect and better the lives of the individuals we work with, in particular those who are without access to power. Science stands for prediction (based on current understanding), followed by systematic observation and analysis and then, usually, revised understanding. But there is something more: we recognize that science is a practice that is undertaken in a social context, and as such it can be limited by the social hierarchies of its time, creating burdens and benefits, winners and losers. To have this awareness is not ‘anti-science.’ Indeed, it offers the sort of tough love of science that all responsible scientists ought to share. And every time the debate about ‘science’ versus ‘advocacy’ re-emerges, we cannot but hope that our discipline’s lengthy track record of critically embracing science can show that the debate itself is based on false premises.
We’d love to put an end to the futility of the science versus advocacy version of “Whack a mole” so we can focus on quality anthropological work for the public good.

Leith Mullings is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and President of the AAA.

Monica Heller is Professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto and Vice President and President-Elect of the AAA.

Ed Liebow is the Executive Director of the AAA.

Alan Goodman is Professor of Biological Anthropology at Hampshire College, and a Past President of the AAA.

2012 in review

Happy New Year blog readers! The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog, check it out here:

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 95,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

AAA Seeks Professional Fellow

The AAA is hiring!

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 PhD in anthropology. The fellow will work at the offices of AAA located in the DC metropolitan area. Start date is fall 2012. Stipend is $50,000 per year plus benefits.

For more information on this fellowship opportunity go to http://careercenter.aaanet.org/jobs/4853112.32. To apply please send a cover letter and CV/resume to aaajobs@aaanet.org.

Where Do AAA Members Study?

18% of AAA Members have completed their member profile in the new AMS system.  Completed member profiles allow AAA members to find their colleagues by field of study, geographic area, language and much more. To get started, simply log in and edit the profile information sections on your My Information page.

Not a member? Join today!

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