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Society for Economic Anthropology Call for Papers

SEA LogoSEA 2014 “Energy & Economy” April 24 – 26, 2014 Austin, TX ABSTRACT SUBMISSION DEADLINE: DECEMBER 15 Please visit the SEA webpage to read the CFP and submit an abstract. Anthropologists have a long, if uneven, history of engagement with studies of energy and economy – from the use of wind in ancient exchange and the effects of domestication on production, to the contemporary dependence on the consumption of fossil fuels. While Leslie White most explicitly incorporated energy in his mid-century macroevolutionary model, the discipline’s engagements with energy and economy include a wide variety of approaches ranging from cultural ecology and systems-based approaches to political ecology and ecofeminism. Despite these diverse engagements, economistic understandings of the relationship between energy and economy continue to dominate the intellectual and policy landscape.  Anthropological insights, however, make it clear that actual human engagements with energy almost never follow a simple logic of economic efficiency. What can the historical, material and ethnographic records tell us about the empirical relationships between the environment, economy, culture, and energy use? Better analysis of these mutually influencing relationships enriches scholarship and has critical policy relevance – particularly given the urgent need for a transition to less carbon-intensive energy sources. Human societies have always relied on continued resource inputs, yet explicit consideration of energy is often neglected in social scientific work. Perhaps this is due to energy’s invisibility – its doxic, taken-for-granted flow as mysterious to most people as its effects are profound and ubiquitous. Uneven social, political economic, and environmental impacts simultaneously accompany these flows in a global circuitry of energy and trade that is as cultural as it is physical, bringing different, intersecting forms of power into perspective. Energy flows, then, are at the very foundations of economic provision and therefore provide a compelling lens through which to examine the economic affairs of any society. We are especially keen on stimulating interdisciplinary engagement with the meeting theme. SEA 2014 is thus planned in conjunction with the SAA meetings in Austin, Texas and we strongly encourage submissions from archaeologists, and other anthropologists, as well as economists, historians and other scholars of the human condition. Texas will provide a particularly relevant backdrop for SEA 2014 given the state’s notable energy resources and significant influence on US and global energy policy. Austin is an especially pleasant setting, with delightful spring weather and a vibrant music scene. We welcome anthropologically informed and theoretically relevant papers and posters that address (but are certainly not limited to) the following questions: Economic Theory: concepts, method, professional practice, interdisciplinaryWhat fundamental reorientations of theory and method are needed to widen appreciation of humanity’s past, present and future dependence on energy flows? What theories and methodologies are most useful for understanding shifts between energy regimes? What are the most promising ethnographic frontiers for understanding the transition away from the fossil fuel era? How can a long-term perspective incorporating non-industrial societies bolster how we envision energy flows and human-environmental relations?  How might we best think about vulnerability, sustainability and resilience? Should economic anthropologists resume measuring food, fuel and labor in terms related to advances in environmental economics or human ecology? How might renewed attention to energy reunite or reconfigure four-field anthropology? Production: environmental interfaces, labor, work, social structuring How can we best categorize diversity in the cultural and material production of energy – from energy used to fuel human labor and the fire used to smelt iron, to the biological, nuclear and solar technologies now being explored? How have prehistoric and more contemporary social groups resisted particular energy regimes even when technological or labor capacities may have allowed them?  What role has energy played in the development and reorganization of societies? How have historical and contemporary energy regimes shaped and been shaped by social and political relations?  What are the physical, social, cultural, political and economic ramifications of extracting, processing and using carbon-intensive fuels and growing renewable electricity? Exchange: energy, social circuitry, markets, commodification How has energy affected the ways market and non-market exchange shapes social connection and dislocation? How do we best account for the energy embodied in goods and services exchanged? How are gender, age, kinship, class and other dimensions of social organization related to energy? What are the possibilities for incorporating externalities in market-based efforts to speed energy transitions? What are the impacts when we commodify resources necessary for life? How is money related to energy flow? Consumption: style, status, decision making How are habitus, consumption styles, status desires, and imaginaries related to the flow of energy involved in people’s ongoing construction of meaning and identity? How can energy and other resource demand from a growing middle class in BRIC and other countries be understood and accommodated? How might we interpret flat to declining energy use in the OECD/developed countries? What can economic anthropologists contribute to understanding peoples’ use of renewable energy technologies, distributed energy, smart grids, private electricity generation, etc.? Economic & Energy Transitions: governance, finance, movements and the future What precedents in the archaeological and historical record could help us understand the economic and social implications of slow vs. sudden shocks in energy supply? What is the minimum net energy surplus needed for societal functioning, and how useful is net energy analysis in our fields? What roles do debt and finance, including bubbles, play in the creation and reproduction of existing and potential energy regimes? How are modes of political and economic governance related to control over past, present and future energies? What is expertise, and how do experts affect the forecasting of possible energy futures? How are war and militaries part of past and future energy transitions? How have/can social movements shape(d) energy cultures?

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Economic Anthropologists Join World’s Largest Professional Anthropology Association

SEA LogoThe American Anthropological Association (AAA) is pleased to announce that the Society for Economic Anthropology (SEA) has merged with the AAA. The merger of the two groups became official on March 13 of this year, and former SEA members will now form a new section within the AAA, the Society for Economic Anthropology.

 In December, 2012, the membership of the American Anthropological Association voted to incorporate the Society for Economic Anthropology. In May of last year, SEA President, Katherine Browne formally proposed a merger of the two organizations by which SEA would cease to exist as a separate corporation and be folded into AAA as an unincorporated section of the association.

The SEA is a group of anthropologists, economists and other scholars who are interested in the connections between social and economic life.. In presenting the vote to with members, AAA President Leith Mullings noted, “This merger presents an opportunity for the AAA to expand its reach across an interdisciplinary and international spectrum, affirming the unique insights of a four field tradition”. Other benefits include the acquisition of a highly respected publication

The merger converts the highly respected SEA monograph series into a peer-reviewed journal, Economic Anthropology, to launch in January 2014 as the newest publication in the AAA publishing portfolio. Economic Anthropology expands the AAA’s coverage of issues that connect social and economic anthropology. The journal is devoted to publishing scholarship concerned with economic aspects of local and global life such as “urbanization”, “inequality” and “social change.” Economic Anthropology will also publish scholarship that addresses interconnections between scales of micro and macro study, and transformations in domains that include economic realities.

As a new AAA section, SEA will continue to offer its three prizes, the Halperin Memorial Fund, the Harold Schneider Prize, and the SEA Book Prize.  The SEA Rhoda Halperin Memorial Fund is a competitive annual prize awarded to three Ph.D. students in anthropology who demonstrate the late Dr. Halperin’s love of economic anthropology and her concern for people living on the margins. Students engaged in economic research focused on social exclusion and poverty are provided small dissertation research grants ($1,000) to help them develop their topics and proposals, and subsequent travel money ($500) to present their findings at the Society for Economic Anthropology annual spring conference. The Harold K. Schneider Prize Competition is an annual student paper competition established by the Society for Economic Anthropology to honor its first president and to encourage new scholars in the field of economic anthropology. The SEA Book Prize is awarded every two years to recognize the single best publication in the field of economic anthropology.

This new AAA section will also continue to hold an annual conference each spring. The 2013 SEA Annual Meeting will be held at Washington University in St. Louis, MO from April 11-14. This year’s conference brings together researchers from all fields of anthropology as well as other social sciences to present and discuss research that engages with the broad theme of inequality.

SEA President Browne, a professor of anthropology at Colorado State University, is excited for this shift within the society. “Thanks to the support and resources of the AAA, this merger prepares the way for our beloved SEA to expand its scholarly reach and visibility, and to connect to a broader public. We could not be more pleased about our new status” Browne notes.

AAA is pleased to welcome the Society for Economic Anthropology as one of its 40 sections.

AAA Members – Cast Your Vote

Have you read the memo sent to your inbox from AAA President, Leith Mullings regarding the vote on merging the Society for Economic Anthropology into the American Anthropological Assocation?

If you’ve missed it or would like to read it again, click here. Cast your vote today!

Below is an excerpt:

Mullings_LeithAAA has been in discussions for some time now regarding a possible incorporation of the Society for Economic Anthropology (SEA) as an AAA section. This is a terrific opportunity for both associations, and we have worked hard to make it possible. The SEA has already voted in favour; in order to complete the process our own membership must also vote by the end of this calendar year. Below you will find detailed information about the process, about the SEA, and about what a merger implies for the AAA, as well as a link to the ballot itself. The Executive Board is in favour, and we hope you will also share our view that this would be a positive step for us to take.

To access the ballot and vote,you can login through the Account/Member Profile LOGIN area at the top of the page of the AAA website (www.aaanet.org). You can access theAAA Siteusing your favorite browser. Once you login,make sure you are on the My Information Page, once there,you will see a VOTE NOW button. Click on it and you will be taken to the ballot where you can cast your vote. If you have any difficulties or questions, please email us at elections@aaanet.org Deadline for voting is December 20, 2012.

For background information and complete merger information, click here.

SEA 2013 Annual Meeting Call for Papers: Inequality

Society for Economic Anthropology (SEA) 2013 Annual Meeting will be April 11-13, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Courtesy of SEA

The current recession, Occupy Wallstreet, and growing recognition of the gap between the top 1% and the middle class have brought new attention to the problem of economic and social inequality in the United States in particular and across the globe more generally. Questions regarding the origins, generation, and perpetuation of inequality in diverse societies are certainly not new to anthropologists. Anthropological and other social science research can improve understanding of the social, economic, cultural and political processes contributing to systems of inequality and stratification around the world. Better analysis of such processes not only enriches scholarship on critical issues but also has practical relevance for policy and interventions aimed at alleviating inequality.

This conference aims to bring together researchers from all fields of anthropology as well as other social sciences to present and discuss research that engages with the broad theme of inequality. There are a wide range of possible topics and questions to address. Papers and posters may address, but are certainly not limited to, the following:

  • At the most basic level, how is inequality defined, measured, studied and understood? How have measures and conceptions of inequality themselves changed over time? Is inequality most meaningful when considered in absolute terms of meeting basic needs or in relative terms that are context specific? How have hierarchy and inequality emerged in human societies and how are archeological remains studied and interpreted to identify social classes, early states, and relationships among state and non-state societies?
  • What socio-cultural institutions and structures create and maintain inequality among and between groups? Conversely, which social institutions and practices mitigate inequality and with which effects? For example, systems of reciprocity and leveling may reduce inequalities in small-scale societies, but such systems themselves are dynamic and changing. How have institutions and structures been affected by processes of global change such as the spread of capitalist economic systems, migration, and expanded economic exchange? What trends and patterns in inequality can we identify? While there is evidence that economic inequality has increased in the United States over the last several decades, other societies are experiencing lessening of inequality as economic growth reduces extreme poverty and brings more people into a new middle class. How are such trends experienced, understood, and explained?
  • Another set of questions surround the implications of inequality. The existence of some degree of social inequality is pervasive in human societies but the consequences of inequality may vary considerably from place to place and over time. For example, research has shown a negative relationship between economic inequality and health outcomes in society—while poorer people tend to have worse health outcomes, in societies with greater inequality these outcomes tend to persist even when basic needs are met and access to basic health services are provided. Why is this? Papers may explore the dynamic effects of inequality on important outcomes including health, education, political participation and leadership.

Please submit abstracts for papers (300-400 words) and posters (200-300 words) by email to Carolyn Lesorogol (clesorogol@wustl.edu). The deadline for abstract submissions is November 20, 2012.

Visit the 2013 SEA Annual Meeting webpage for complete details.

2012 Society For Economic Anthropology Book Prize Announced

Today’s guest blog post is by Susan Falls.

The Society for Economic Anthropology (SEA) book prize committee is proud to announce our new winner: with over 30 submissions, the committee selected Sarah Lyon’s new book, Coffee and Community: Maya Farmers and Fair-Trade Markets, published in 2011 by the University of Colorado Press as the outstanding book in economic anthropology for 2009-2011. Thanks to Jeff Cohen, Paul Rivera and Faidra Papavasiliou for their time and effort!  And congratulations again to Sarah!

While many people believe that drinking fair-trade coffee, purchased directly from the growers, promotes healthier working conditions, environmentally friendly agricultural standards and fair prices, Lyon’s work, “Coffee and Community: Maya Farmers and Fair-Trade Markets,” (University of Colorado Press, 2010) analyzes the real implications of fair-trade networks.

Through an ethnographic analysis of Mayan coffee farmers in Guatemala, Lyon analyzes the collective action of fair-trade participants in creating new economic realities.  “A lot of people have heard about fair trade and they may even purchase fair trade products, like coffee, so in that sense even though the book centers on the lives of these Maya coffee farmers in Guatemala, it is a subject that we can all relate to, or at least those of us who drink coffee,” Lyon said.

The book received the most recent SEA Book Prize, a prize given every three years, to recognize the best publication in the field of economic anthropology over the three-year cycle. Lyon said that with approximately 30 other books nominated for the award, she was very honored to make it to the list of semifinalists and to receive the accolade.

Finalists for this prize also included:

The book prize was announced at SEA’s annual meeting in San Antonio. Lyon said that her “ultimate hope is that the award helps bring more attention to the struggles that small farmers in places like Guatemala face.” She also remarked that “It’s really great to know that people within your sub-discipline, the people whose work most closely mirrors your own and who you are referencing regularly, respect your research and find it interesting.”

  • Learn more about Sarah Lyons on her home page.

The SOCIETY FOR ECONOMIC ANTHROPOLOGY  (SEA) is a group of about 300 anthropologists, economists, geographers, and scholars from other disciplines who are interested in the connections between economics and social life. The SEA welcomes new members from all disciplines and all four fields of anthropology.

Please visit us at : http://econanthro.org/  or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Society-for-Economic-Anthropology/174962112560846

Join SEA! Membership info is at: http://econanthro.org/join-us/


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