It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times, it was the age of ostentatiously displayed Ethnic Bags, and it was an age of frumpy, rumpled corduroy, it was a time of middle-aged women wearing chunky jewelry, and it was a time of emo-haired job-marketing grad students crammed into ill-fitting suits — in short, it was an AAA conference so like every other AAA conference that it is high time for yet another AAA roundup.
The biggest issue at the AAA was the continued saga of the HTS program. At this point with one of its members “allegedly murdering one of the men who allegedly lit another HTS member on fire”:http://openanthropology.wordpress.com/2008/11/20/human-terrain-team-member-who-murdered-afghan-now-in-custody-stantons-sixth-article-on-the-human-terrain-system/ and another who is creepy enough to “infiltrate anti-gun activist groups she describes as ‘targets”:http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2008/07/mary-mcfate-sapone-gun-lobby-nra-spy-3.html but unable to make a AAA panel to address her professional association publicly, the HTS program remains hugely relevant as a major issue in social science ethics but also increasingly obviously an ethical no-brainer. More interesting in terms of actual professional ethics were some other panels at the AAA which engaged other issues such as teaching at military-run universities and academies. Inside Higher Ed has a “wrap up on the panels on engagement withe military which pretty much sums it all up”:http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/11/24/anthro. There was also a panel on collaboration and opposition to the military 35 years ago which nicely framed and historicized many of these issues — anyone who was at any of these panels please leave your thoughts/comments/descriptions of these panels in the comments section.
We also had other special events, including a distinguished lecture by Johnetta Cole on race in the 2008 election. My overall winner for the “They scheduled me for 8 am Sunday and gave THESE people prime ime” panel award goes to “Hair, Pubic and Beyond” which may have been a perfectly legitimate panel but whose title ranks up there with the orgasm-themed panel of a few years ago. This panel was also my personal runner-up for the “this was either a really cool or an incredibly silly panel” panel award, which I give to “storage: critical ethnographies of containment and transmission” which went on Saturday morning.
What else to say about the AAA? The luxurious environs of O’Farrell Street allowed all participants to have the San Francisco experience — at one point I over head one man standing with a group of people hanging around on the corner who said “no man, I’ll tell you why I STOPPED TAKING it. I was being followed by GODZILLA!” Ah, ‘Frisco’.
What are the other highlights/low points of the AAAs that people remember?