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AAA President-elect Distinguishably Honored By Students

AWaterstonPhoto02.2014Named the 2014 Distinguished Faculty by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Alumni Association, Dr. Alisse Waterston will be honored during the annual Alumni Reunion in April. Dr. Waterston, a professor in the Department of Anthropology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice since 2003, is a cultural anthropologist who studies the human consequences of structural and systematic violence and inequality. She is the American Anthropological Association’s President-elect and Editor of the Association’s newest digital publication, Open Anthropology. Dr. Waterston is a Soros International Scholar affiliated with the Gender Studies Department, Tbilisi State University, Republic of Georgia. And she is the author of My Father’s Wars: Migration, Memory and the Violence of a Century, an intimate ethnography in the Routledge Series of Innovative Ethnographies.

Calling all Discussion Groups and Anthropology Clubs: Let’s Talk About the March Issue of Open Anthropology!

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Has the new issue of Open Anthropology, The Social Life of Health, Illness, Medicine and Health Care, piqued your interest in anthropological understandings of health, illness, medicine, and health care? Are you interested in building the conversation on your campus or in your community? Throughout March and April, AAA is encouraging anthropology clubs and discussion groups to explore, debate and analyze contemporary issues of health, illness, medicine and health care based on the material included in the March issue of Open Anthropology.

We’d then like to hear from you! Send us stories, videos, and/or photographs that highlight and illustrate the depth, liveliness and creativity of your discussion. Two submissions will be selected to be featured on the AAA blog in May.

Jump start your conversations using these questions:

  • In what ways does the idea of the “social life of” health, illness, medicine and health care that frames the specific articles in this issue of Open Anthropology, offer a way to shift public conversations on these issues?
  • How can anthropology help identify omissions in policy and public conversations regarding health and health care?
  • In current public conversations and contemporary policy debates on health, illness, medicine and health care, how are inequality and violence engaged with- or ignored? Using these articles, how can anthropologists use ethnography to shed light on inequality and violence?
  • How have these articles intersected with your own research and/or research interests?
  • How are anthropologists across the four fields of anthropology writing about the social life of health, illness, medicine and health care? Beyond the articles presented in this issue of Open Anthropology, what additional research, theories and concepts will help us illuminate our views of health, illness, medicine and  health care?

Please submit your stories and/or photographs to Jennie at jsimpson@aaanet.org by April 30th. We look forward to your submissions!

Open Anthropology – The Social Life of Health, Illness, Medicine and Health Care: Anthropological Views

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Open Anthropology, a digital-only, public publication of the American Anthropological Association, is proud to announce the release of its third issue. In this edition, The Social Life of Health, Illness, Medicine and Health Care: Anthropological Views, editor Alisse Waterston (John Jay College, CUNY) curates eleven articles and three book reviews of anthropological works that encompass today’s health care debate, access to insurance and quality health care, social inequity, and historical perspectives on medicinal practices and well-being across cultures.

In her prefatory remarks, Waterston reflects on the national health care conversation, noting that “(t)he whole mess – the fights, the threats, the web crashes – was successful in capturing the public’s attention,” and is left to wonder if the cacophony served to distract the public from the key issues around access to health care. Editor Waterston offers a selection of anthropology articles that “help defamiliarize the ‘normal,’ that make strange the familiar, a process that can lead to new insights, understandings, and positions.”

At a time when the issues of health care and insurance are on the national agenda, Open Anthropology provides cross-cultural information and historical perspective to inform national and global health care policy and practice. Anthropologists recognize that when it comes to health care, “We are all in the same frail boat,” as Gerald D. Berreman notes in his article featured here. Others document obstacles to health and well-being as well as success stories in the effort to provide quality health care to all.

Content in Open Anthropology is culled from the full archive of AAA publications, curated into issues, and will be freely available on the internet for a minimum of six months, permitting users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search or link to the full text of these articles. Each issue is dedicated to topics of interest to the general public, and that may have direct or indirect public policy implications.

Open Anthropology is available at http://www.aaaopenanthro.org

Call for New Editor of Open Anthropology

Open Anthropology is a digital-only publication of the AAA. Each year, three fresh themes open up anthropology to new readers. For instance, “Marriage and Other Arrangements” coincided with the US Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage and drew public policy makers and gay activists’ attention to anthropological analyses of the family. Each issue in Open Anthropology is culled from the rich archive of AAA publications and its contents are freely available on the internet for a minimum of six months, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search or link to the full text of these articles.

“We hope that Open Anthropology will help make anthropology and anthropologists more visible outside the academy and expand our role in important social issues and policy discussions” says former AAA President, Leith Mullings.

Starting in 2015, AAA is seeking a new editor for Open Anthropology. Candidates need prior experience reaching out to public readers and have a track record of commitment to anthropology as a four- or five-field discipline. Appointment will be made by the AAA Executive Board and interested candidates are encouraged to send cover letters, resumes, and a list of proposed themes to Oona Schmid, Director, Publishing at AAA (oschmid@aaanet.org) by 1 April 2014.

Eye-opening anthropology

AAA debuts new video abstracts. Teresa Figueroa Sanchez comments on her Anthropology of Work Review article about “California Strawberries” and R. Brian Ferguson talks about his work, “Blood of the Leviathan.” The latter (originally published in American Ethnologist) is part of a collection “On Violence” in Open Anthropology. So, what can video abstractsdo that the written word does not? These short takes let authors personally explain their work. As visual documents, they provide a way for non-specialists to quickly understand the central themes. Students might well find these clips fascinating in terms of making research projects “real,” by showing how these anthropologists came to their projects and how anthropologists craft their research. I hope you’ll watch these productions, tell us what you think, and enjoy these efforts to open up anthropology.

Anthropologists Welcome Supreme Court Rulings In Historic Prop 8 and DOMA Cases

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) welcomed separate rulings by the US Supreme Court, which struck down the main provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and also allowed same-sex marriage to remain legal in California.

In a 5-4 decision in the DOMA case, the Court ruled that same-sex couples who are legally married are now entitled to equal treatment under the law. Previously, DOMA defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman for federal purposes.

In the AAA’s view, the US Supreme Court has properly found that same-sex couples that are legally married should have those marriages recognized under federal law. Before today’s rulings, DOMA relegated gay men and women (and their legal marriages) to an inferior legal status. This decision only applies in those 12 states (and the District of Columbia) where same-sex marriages are currently legal. The decision reached today allows those in same sex marriages to receive, for example, equal treatment in terms of filing income taxes and receiving social security benefits.

In a separate ruling, the Court also dismissed a case that challenged the constitutionality of Proposition 8, a California state law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. After two same-sex couples challenged Proposition 8 in federal court in California, the California government officials who would normally have defended the law in court declined to do so. The proponents of Proposition 8 stepped in to defend the law, and the California Supreme Court (in response to a request by the lower court) ruled that they could do so under state law. But today, the US Supreme Court held that the aforementioned proponents do not have the legal right to defend the law in court. As a result, it held that the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the intermediate appellate court, has no legal force, and it sent the case back to that court with instructions for it to dismiss the case. In effect, by dismissing the appeal challenging the final order from the trial court, the order will go into effect. The order prohibits the Attorney General and Governor from enforcing Prop. 8, preserving for now the legality of same-sex marriage in California.

Earlier this year, the AAA filed an amicus brief on behalf of the case for invalidating Proposition 8. The AAA is the world’s largest professional organization of anthropologists and others interested in anthropology. Its membership includes all specialties within anthropology, including cultural anthropology, linguistics, archeology, and biological anthropology. In 2004, the AAA adopted a Statement on Marriage and the Family, which observes, in part, that the results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either “civilization” or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies. Most recently, AAA’s newest digital publication Open Anthropology focuses on marriage and other arrangements.

In the AAA’s view, the US Supreme Court has properly found that DOMA institutionalizes discrimination against legally married same-sex couples at the national level. Further, in AAA’s view, the State of California, having amended its Constitution to strip the right of same-sex couples to marry, is in violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

As stated in our amicus brief, throughout history, state interference with the ability to marry has been a means of oppression and stigmatization of disfavored groups, serving to degrade whole classes of people by depriving them of the full ability to exercise a fundamental right.

This discrimination has been shown to have severe social and psychological impacts. By singling out gay men and women as ineligible for the institution of marriage, it invites the public to discriminate against them. And by depriving same-sex couples of the ability to marry, adverse effects are imposed on their children.

A majority of Americans support same-sex marriage and a growing number of states have recognized this public support by changing outmoded and discriminatory laws. National governments on several continents have arrived at this same recognition. It is highly appropriate that the US, ever concerned about the protection of human rights, finally end this offensive form of discrimination and acknowledge the right to marriage equality.

The DOMA case is United States v. Windsor, and the Prop 8 case is Hollingsworth v. Perry.

What do Anthropologists Say about Same-sex Marriage?

As the marriage bill heads to the U.K. House of Lords for its second reading, Roger Lancaster contributes an anthropological perspective on marriage as a labile institution, designed to meet societal needs and necessarily not tethered to a heterosexual dyad in his latest Huffington Post article. His words offer a trenchant rebuttal to the director of Catholic Voices and the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose positions all appear in a provocative and engaging new volume: The Meaning of Matrimony, just published by Civitas. The UK debate coincides with anticipation that the U.S. highest court will rule on Windsor v. U.S. – Defense of Marriage Act before the term ends in late June.

In addition to this newly released volume, AAA is keeping anthropological perspectives at the forefront of these debates in the debut issue of Open Anthropology, a compilation of 11 articles that similarly show how mutable and varied domestic arrangements are.

 

Anthropology Weighs In On the Marriage Debate in New Public Journal

OpenAnthropology728x90_2Open Anthropology is the newest publication of the American Anthropological Association (AAA). It is a digital-only publication that will be provided to the public free of charge. This is the first AAA publication that uses responsive design and is readable on mobile devices, such as iPhones.

In providing this journal to the public, AAA is alerting its members and other interested audiences that it is committed to examining new approaches to journal publishing, and that some of these potential options include “open access” models for in-demand content.

In its inaugural issue, Open Anthropology editor Alisse Waterston (John Jay College, CUNY) curates AAA’s finest articles on marriage and other arrangements. In the issue’s ten articles and two book reviews, Waterston provides a cross-cultural sampling of the anthropological research on the subject. Waterston notes that in this issue, “Cutting through the nonsense thought and dangerous talk, anthropologists set the record straight on marriage and other arrangements.”

Content in Open Anthropology will be culled from the full archive of AAA publications, curated into issues, and will be freely available on the internet for a minimum of six months, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search or link to the full text of these articles. Each issue will be dedicated to topics of interest to the general public, and that may have direct or indirect public policy implications. “We hope that Open Anthropology will help make anthropology and anthropologists more visible outside the academy and expand our role in important social issues and policy discussions” says AAA President, Leith Mullings.

Open Anthropology is available at http://www.aaaopenanthro.org.

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