Biological anthropology has long been plagued by its exclusionary past. Today, many biological anthropologists and the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) are actively seeking to address this legacy by forging positive relationships between anthropologists and marginalized communities, and by encouraging new voices to contribute to the field. For example, the AAPA created the Increasing Diversity in Evolutionary Anthropological Sciences (IDEAS) program to increase participation by first-generation college students or students from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in science (African Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and Latinos). The recent Survey of Academic Field Experiences (SAFE) study (2014) conducted by Kate Clancy, Robin Nelson, Julienne Rutherford, and Katie Hinde also highlighted persistent issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the field.
The 14th biennial EASA conference was held at the University of Milano-Bicocca from July 20-23, 2016. Framed around the topic “Anthropological Legacies and Human Futures,” the conference included two panels on themes in the history of anthropology. The first panel was convened by David Shankland (Royal Anthropological Institute, London, UK) and Aleksandar Boskovic (University of Belgrade/Institute of Social Sciences, Belgrade, Serbia); the second by Andrés Barrera-González (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain) and Han F. Vermeulen. The second panel was the official panel of the Europeanist network for this conference. The panels were attended by between 30 and 40 people and received positive reactions. Based on the success of the conference, plans were made to publish one or more volumes. Subsequently, a network devoted to the history of anthropology (HOAN) was refounded (see below). Continue reading
From November 9-12, 2016, the American Society of Ethnohistory (ASE) convened its Annual Meeting at the Hutton Hotel in “Music City” Nashville, Tennessee. The meeting assembled scholars from a diverse range of fields including history, anthropology, linguistics, indigenous studies, and environmental and cultural studies, as well as representatives from various indigenous political, environmental, heritage, and cultural institutions. The canopy topic, “Ethnohistory of Native Space”, encouraged analyses that ranged from dwelling and diaspora notions of ‘home places’, to other experiences of space, place and time. This included inquiries into how native spaces are represented through narrative and performance and studies of different forms of colonial legacies. It also involved a focus on uses of mapping technologies employed to display place-based histories, interactions, and social transformations. Continue reading
“Translating Across Space and Time: Endangered Languages, Cultural Revitalization, and the Work of History,” a symposium held in Philadelphia from October 13 through October 15, 2016, convened scholars, practitioners, and Indigenous knowledge keepers from across the United States and Canada.
Hosted by the American Philosophical Society’s (APS) Center for Native American and Indigenous Research (CNAIR) and co-sponsored by the Penn Humanities Forum at the University of Pennsylvania, the conference coincided with the APS Museum exhibition, Gathering Voices: Thomas Jefferson and Native America, which showcased the APS’s work in Native American language collection and revitalization from Jefferson to the present. Over 69,000 visitors attended the exhibition between April and December 2016. This scholarly conference drew over 100 in-person attendees and over 100 more via live web stream. Panelists from across the United States and Canada presented 21 papers on topics related to endangered languages, translation, and language revitalization projects in Native American and Indigenous communities. Continue reading
Under the title “Why History of Anthropology and Who Should Write It?” the History of Anthropology Working Group of the German Anthropological Association (DGV) organized a two-day conference on “Cultural and Social Anthropology and its Relation to its own History and to the Historical Sciences” at the University of Vienna (Austria) on December 9–10, 2016. Peter Schweitzer, Marie-France Chevron, and Peter Rohrbacher, staff members of the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Vienna, convened the conference. The central questions they formulated were: (1) “To what end should a history of anthropology be written,” (2) Is there “a ‘best practice’ for this form of historiography,” and (3) “For whom should a history of anthropology be written”? Continue reading
Poster for the Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA)
How do we care for objects and how do objects care for us? Dr. Bill Wood, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a 2016 SIMA Faculty Fellow, asked this question during the discussion portion of the 2016 Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA) Symposium. The Symposium, which took place Thursday and Friday, July 21-22, was the culmination of four weeks of work by Master’s students and PhD candidates from across the United States and Canada. Since 2009, the Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology has brought 12 to 14 anthropology graduate students into the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) to engage collections. In 2015, the program has expanded to include two visiting faculty fellows. Funded by the Cultural Anthropology Program of the National Science Foundation, the program is run and hosted by NMNH’s Anthropology Department. SIMA participants are taught by staff from NMNH and across the Smithsonian, as well as by three visiting professors. Through hands-on work with objects in intensive seminars, SIMA trains students in the core methodological aspects of museum anthropology and helps them understand the types of data in museums, and the issues involved in working with collections. In the process, students learn how to apply their diverse theoretical interests through object-based research. Continue reading
Rio de Janeiro, Hotel Novo Mundo, 5–7 April 2016
In early April 2016, during what will surely turn out to be a notable moment in Brazil’s political history, scholars representing a variety of disciplines from across the globe met in Rio de Janeiro to participate in the workshop, “Racial Conceptions in the Twentieth-Century: Comparisons, Connections and Circulations in the Portuguese-speaking Global South.” The two-day workshop was characterized not only by the collegiality and enthusiasm of its participants, but also its commitment to illuminating the diversity of racial thought emerging from the Lusophone Global South.
On April 30th, 2016, a conference was held in London at SOAS to celebrate Jane Guyer’s new translation and introduction to Marcel Mauss’ classic Essay on the Gift, published by HAU Books. Commenters included Marilyn Strathern, Marshall Sahlins, Keith Hart, David Graeber, and Maurice Bloch.
Dan Hicks reports and reflects on the conference in this one-page essay for Anthropology Today.
Video of the conference can be viewed on YouTube.
In December 2015, an international and interdisciplinary group of scholars gathered at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City to attend the workshop “Populations of Cognition: Interconnected histories of human variation in Latin America.” We enjoyed a lively three-day meeting replete with bilingual interventions, and afternoon enjoyment of Oaxacan food and mezcal.