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Seeking A Great AAA Love Story

heart_of_sand-1824It is no secret that the AAA Annual Meeting provides an amazing networking opportunity. And perhaps its been all the Valentine’s marketing in the air that has me wondering, is there couple out there who attribute their courtship to the AAA Annual Meeting? Perhaps you initially met at the meeting or had the opportunity to get to know one another better while at the meeting. I’ve heard rumors that some have even gotten married at past AAA Annual Meetings (If it’s true, I’d like to hear from you!).

The meetings are quite large, more than 7,000 attendees last year, so what was it about the individual that caught your attention? Maybe you sat next to each other at a session or met in the coffee line?

Send your love story to me, Joslyn at josten@aaanet.org. I’ll share them here on the AAA blog throughout February. Here are the details needed:
-the year of the meeting you met
-how you met
-a photograph if available
-your permission to share your story and photo

Thank you for sharing your great AAA love story!

The Anthropologist’s Guide to the Government Shutdown

Is the government shutdown affecting anthropologists? Absolutely.

Many anthropologists work for federal agencies like the the Department of Agriculture, the National Park Service and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These agencies, as well as others, rely on members of our discipline to study, research and provide perspective on how  agency policy affects US citizens in real time. Unfortunately, with the shutdown, many of their activities may be considered “non-essential” and they will be furloughed. Alternatively, they may be considered “essential” and asked to work without pay.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has provided a list of agency contingency plans so that citizens can see how each agency plans to approach the shutdown, including a description of which employees and employee activities are considered essential to Federal government operations. We encourage members to review these lists, and contact their member of Congress to let them know that not only should the current budget impasse be resolved quickly, but also that anthropologists provide an essential role in our government.

If you are a government employee, we’d love to hear your stories about how the shutdown is affecting you so we can communicate your stories to Congress.  We promise to keep your identity private. Send your messages to ddozier@aaanet.org.

Anthropologists and Ecological Research

Last fall a group of anthropologists participated in the 2012 All Scientists Meeting (ASM) of the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network in Estes Park, Colorado. They were there to make a case for integrating more anthropologists into the study of ecosystems. Read about their experience in Anthropology News. Below is an excerpt:

There is a growing recognition among ecologists that they need to grapple with the human impacts on ecosystems and that the old model of studying isolated and protected reserves to understand ecosystems is no longer valid. This is evidenced by the theme of this year’s ASM meeting and the increasing impact of climate change on ecosystems in the LTER sites. However, there are few ecological models that satisfactorily incorporate human complexity. Ecologists may study ecosystem processes at the micro-scale and then jump to the global macro-scale, eg, measuring the impact of global warming on these processes, thus skipping the local, regional, and national scales at which human activities more directly affect ecosystem processes in myriad ways. This offers opportunities for anthropologists who study complex social-ecological systems using a holistic approach and making linkages across these spatiotemporal scales. Moreover, anthropologists are no strangers to long-term research as many are involved in ethnographic research in one site over multiple decades. Thus, anthropologists can make significant conceptual contributions to LTER projects.

Read the entire article here.

Anthropologists and the Human Terrain System

In March, the C4ISR Journal, a publication of Defense News, ran the cover story U.S. Army’s Human Terrain Experts May Help Defuse Future Conflicts. In the piece, journalist Jim Hodges wrote:

The HTS (Human Terrain System) also ran afoul of anthropological organizations that believed their scholars were becoming spies and that their work was being used to undermine the population rather than help it. The anthropologists also said their first ethic — “do no harm” — was being violated by the work of the HTS teams.

The American Anthropological Association condemned the program in 2007, and in a letter to Congress in 2010 the Network of Concerned Anthropologists questioned HTS’s effectiveness and called it “dangerous and reckless” and a “waste of taxpayers’ money.”

And went on to say:

The controversy has cooled. The HTS will have a recruiter at the American Anthropological Association’s annual meeting in San Francisco in November.

This misinformation was not taken lightly here at AAA. In working with C4ISR’s editor, we were able to run a two page commentary on sharing the anthropological side of the story. Thanks to members, Hugh Gusterson and Rob Albro, C4ISR readers not only understand that HTS recruiters will not be at AAA’s Annual Meeting this November, but also how HTS contravenes anthropological ethics:

The controversy has died down only insofar as the American Anthropological Association has completed a detailed investigation of HTS, with particular attention to the Human Terrain Teams deployed both in Iraq and Afghanistan to collect socio-cultural information for commanders to aid their decision making.

We want to reinforce that the American Anthropological Association stands by its 2009 conclusion that the U.S. Army-led Human Terrain System contravenes anthropological ethics and incites superficial “windshield ethnography” that falls short of professional standards. That conclusion is detailed in the association’s “Final Report on The Army’s Human Terrain System Proof of Concept Program.”

Sending social scientists to study local populations in the company of armed troops amid active hostilities will not produce scientifically reliable information. Just as important are the long-term consequences of this approach. Embedding anthropologists with combat brigades undermines their independence and duty not to harm populations — requirements that are the linchpins of anthropological ethics. Calling embedded anthropologists “social scientists” does not solve the problem.

Read the entire article and leave your comments on the issue.

Anthropologists From All Over The World Get Together In Montreal

Poutines are a Montreal specialty.

We’re pleased to share the this blog post from special AN reporter Guiseppe de Cesare (Concordia University). He shares some observations about the international nature of this year’s meeting.

As an international student from Italy studying anthropology in Montréal, I found the AAA meeting an exciting opportunity to learn about the research that is being done by American anthropologists. When I went to registration area, however, I was surprised to see that there were also many non-American anthropologists presenting at the meeting. In fact, I met scholars from all over the world: Japan, Belgium, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Bulgaria, Hungary, Russia and Italy.

I asked myself: Why did so many international scholars come to Montréal to participate in the AAA meeting? At first, I thought it was because the event takes place in Montréal, a cosmopolitan and bilingual city that attracts tourists from all over the world. Then, after interviewing some international scholars, I realized that many came either because they were fascinated by some particular topics covered at the meeting or because they were invited by their colleagues to be part of a panel. Moreover, most of the scholars were new to the city and, even though they found it attractive, they said Montréal was not the main reason why they came to this year’s meeting.

At the registration area, I even noticed people of different nationalities gathered together in small groups. For example, there was a group of anthropologists made by three Japanese and one Russian while another one was made by two Belgians and one Italian. In fact, for the international scholars I met, the AAA meeting represented not only an opportunity to present research, but also a way to meet anthropologists from other parts of the world.

In short, one of the reasons why this year’s AAA meeting attracts many international scholars is because it allows anthropologists from all over the world to get together, share research findings and socialize, all in a stimulating environment.

New Executive Board Statement on Evaluating Scholarship Through Tenure and Promotion

The AAA Executive Board on May 21, 2011 adopted and endorsed a statement on Evaluating Scholarship on Practicing, Applied, Public Interest, and Engaged Anthropology Through Tenure & Promotion.

AAA recognizes the growing number of anthropologists who identify as practicing, applied, public interest, or engaged anthropologists. Departments of anthropology and their home colleges are thus challenged with documenting and evaluating the scholarly nature of this type of work in faculty promotion and tenure decisions. Accordingly, the AAA offers the following guidelines developed for departmental and college T&P committees for the evaluation of scholarship in the realm of practicing, applied, public interest, and engaged anthropology for consideration in tenure cases and promotion to associate and full professor.

The full statement and additional resources are also available on the AAA’s Department website.

Anthropologists Will Come to Montreal in Record Numbers

AAA will host its 110th Annual Meeting this November in Montréal, Quebec, Canada. Members and non-members alike were encouraged to submit proposals for this year’s scholarly sessions. This year’s call for papers has just ended with a historically high number of 4,510 submissions.

Proposal topics embrace the meeting theme of “Traces, Tidemarks and Legacies” through the myriad of anthropological fields of science and humanities. This 2011 theme invites participants to reflect on how all fields of anthropology, whose own locations have also been rearranged, are engaging with these shifting realities in which we live, within and across disciplines and regions.

Meeting participant registration also led to a historical high of 5,203 registrants. Anthropologists and those whose work intersects with anthropology will be attending from around the globe, with 17% of registrants coming from outside the United States and Canada. AAA Director of Meetings, Jason G. Watkins, CMP said, “In a time when budget reductions are at the forefront, anthropologists are persevering in their work and have prioritized the AAA Annual Meeting due to the benefits of scholarly exchange and network building opportunities.”

Two periods of Annual Meeting pre-registration occur before arriving in Montreal. Pre-registration re-opens in June 2011.

Earth Day Roundup

On this Earth Day, we’re celebrating anthropologists!  Many anthropologists have been newsmakers lately, so here is a media round up to add to your weekend read:

An article of interest to be featured this Sunday, April 24th in the New York Times Magazine, Obama’s Young Mother Abroad.

And, no Earth Day would be complete without a few ideas of how you could celebrate the earth’s special day. With the assistance of the Anthropology and Environment Section, here are a few things you can do to celebrate Earth Day!

  • Make tonight a movie night! Pick up an eco-flick to watch with your family and friends. Need some film ideas? Click here.
  • Pick 5 for Your Environment – An EPA challenge to take five simple steps to make changes where you live.
  • Eat locally grown foods! Anthropology students at Arkansas Tech University are serving up locally produced foods and mapping the local, sustainable  foodshed.

Anthropologists have amply documented that meaningful lives are lived on low-energy budgets.
-Thomas Love (Linfield College)

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