Tag Archives: AAA2015

What Happened at #AAA2015: The Good, The Bad, and the Bibs

Last week, Denver welcomed about five thousand anthropologists to its Gilded Age (and Gilded Age revival) downtown for the massive anthropological blowout that was the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association. So what were the main trends of the meetings? Well, in no particular order they were:

The Bibs: This year’s membership badges were, well, slightly larger and redder than they were in the past. I think that the goal was to reduce plastic waste, since the badges were made of cloth. That was a great goal and I think it was well-achieved, and if bibs are the future then that’s fine with me. But… yeah…

#AAA2015 member badges were larger than in previous years
Member badges were larger than in previous years

Another feature of the badges  was a QR code, which could be used to scan your fellow anthropologists. No one I know actually tried to scan anyone else — most people I talked to feared what they would learn. However, according to AAA material, in the future being labeled with a QR code will enable us to participate in ‘scavenger hunts’. That’s right: scavenger hunts. The mind boggles. Continue reading

Savage Minds at #AAA2015

Welcome to Denver! If you are like me, you will be disappointed by the failure of the AAA to foreground the Mile High City  as the location of timeless classic Mork and Mindy. But you don’t be disappointed by the ridonculous amount of panels on offer. Savage Minds has a lot going on this AAA, so I hope you’ll join us at some of our events.

The two most important things to come to are:

The Savage Minds/HAU/University of Chicago Press Party.
Saturday, November 21st, 9:00 p.m.
Stout Street Social
1400 Stout Street, Denver, Colorado

We are going to rock and roll all night and party every day, so come join us. Secondly, to celebrate our blog’s 10th anniversary, we will be having throwing the panel

The Internet and Anthropology: Ten Years of Savage Minds
Saturday, November 21, 2015: 8:00 AM-9:45 AM
Centennial F (Hyatt Regency)

So grab a cup of coffee and come participate in the session where we’ll talk about where we think the blog and anthropology have been, and where it will go in the future. We’ll need some help with that last bit, so if you have any ideas please come share them!

Finally, many of our minds have their own sessions and papers underway. Here is some of what we are doing:

Ryan Anderson is giving the paper “The Life and Death of Cabo Cortes: Social Movements and the Politics of Tourism Development on the East Cape of Baja California Sur, Mexico” as part of the panel “Negotiating Collective Action: Dynamics of Social Movements as Shifting Spaces of Political Action”.  Thursday, November 19, 2015: 4:00 PM-5:45 PM 709 (Colorado Convention Center)

Kerim Friedman has organized the session “Teaching Language and Culture: Approaches from World Anthropologies”. Thursday, November 19, 2015: 10:15 AM-12:00 PM Centennial B (Hyatt Regency)

Maia Green has organized a session “The Productivity of Regulation: Ethnographies of Alignment and Citizenships” Thursday, November 19, 2015: 10:15 AM-12:00 PM. 707 (Colorado Convention Center)

Alex Golub is giving the paper “Answerability, Acknowledgement, and the Unknowable: Anthropological Entanglements with the Mining Industry and the Work of Dan Jorgensen” at the session “Cults, Christians, and Copper on the Global Frontier: Engaging the Anthropology of Dan Jorgensen”.  Thursday, November 19, 2015: 8:00 AM-9:45 AM 704 (Colorado Convention Center)

Carole McGranahan is organizing the panel “Theory in (Himalayan) Anthropology Since the Eighties”. Saturday, November 21, 2015: 10:15 AM-12:00 PM 405 (Colorado Convention Center)

Rebecca Nelson is organizing the panel “Unexpected Spaces of Feminist Practice?: Producing Latin American and Carribean Feminisms from the Margin”  Thursday, November 19, 2015: 4:00 PM-5:45 PM 604 (Colorado Convention Center). She’s also giving the paper “Tensions Between Cosmopolitanism and Cultural Management in a Guatemalan Volunteer Tourism Program” for the panel “Rethinking Cosmopolitanism: Tourism and Tourists in a Post-Hegelian Age”  Thursday, November 19, 2015: 10:15 AM-12:00 PM 604 (Colorado Convention Center).

Dick Powis is giving the paper “Men as Men: Toward a New Couvade” in the panel “Proper Births, Proper Parent”  Wednesday, November 18, 2015: 4:00 PM-5:45 PM
608 (Colorado Convention Center).

AAA is a busy time, but why not stop by some of our events and meet our bloggers in the flesh? It should be fun!

It’s Not the End of the World, It’s a Necessary Challenge to Our Cosmology: reflections of an Israeli anthropologist

Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions was thrilled to receive this essay from an Israeli anthropologist working in an Israeli state institution. The post is anonymous in order to protect the person from the attacks such supporters of the boycott from within increasingly face from their colleagues, administrations, and government. For more on Israeli anthropologists’ criticisms of their colleagues’ anti-boycott stances, see here and here.

Come to the boycott vote on Friday November 20 at 6:15 pm! See Voting at #AAA2015 — What You Need to Know. VOTE YES on Resolution 2, Vote Yes for Justice.

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It’s not the end of the world, it’s a necessary challenge to our cosmology

By: Anonymous

When I was in first grade my teacher Ms. B. tried to teach us children a lesson on gravity. She drew a large round circle to signify the earth, surrounded by small stick figures placed all around it. ‘You see,’ she explained, ‘gravity works the same way all around the world, that’s why none of the people fall off.’ As citizens of the northern hemisphere we six- and seven-year-olds found this picture very perplexing. ‘We already understand gravity,” we insisted again and again, “we know we don’t float off the floor. We just don’t understand how people don’t fall off the bottom.’

When I hear progressive Jews and Israelis these days voice their heartfelt and terrified opposition to the proposed academic boycott of Israeli institutions, I am reminded of this picture. I am a Jewish Israeli academic and my milieu includes, mostly, other left-leaning Jewish Israelis like myself. When my colleagues insist they genuinely care about and reject the horrors of the occupation, I know they mean it. We already know – not just intellectually, but, so we think, in our basic physical experience of the world – about inequality, about human rights, about injustice. But when it comes to shifting the cosmology so as to include true equality with our Palestinian students and colleagues, we are confused and panicked. The world is being upended by the boycott movement in a way we cannot stomach. Continue reading

The Anti-Boycott Resolution: Entrenching the Status Quo, Denying Justice

Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions rejects the anti-boycott resolution put forward for a vote at the AAA meetings. While claiming to support peace and justice for Palestinians, it reproduces the very structural inequality that drives the conflict.

Vote No on the Status Quo, Vote No on Resolution 1

Vote Yes for Real Change and Justice, Vote YES on Resolution 2

For more information on the upcoming boycott vote on Friday November 20 at 6:15 pm, see Voting at #AAA2015 — What You Need to Know. VOTE YES on Resolution 2, for the boycott.

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The Anti-Boycott Resolution: Entrenching the Status Quo, Denying Justice

At this year’s American Anthropological Association (AAA) annual meeting, anthropologists will vote on two resolutions concerning Israel’s systematic violations of human rights.

Resolution 2 endorses the Palestinian call for boycott as an effective and nonviolent means to pursue their fundamental rights. By contrast, Resolution 1, submitted by the group, “Anthropologists for Dialogue on Israel/Palestine” (ADIP), rejects the boycott in favor of “dialogue.”

Anti-boycott Resolution 1 must be seen for what it is: a thinly disguised vindication of an unjust status quo. Last year in Washington, D.C., the AAA’s membership voted overwhelmingly against a remarkably similar anti-boycott resolution. This year, boycott opponents are attempting to achieve the same goals – only this time they have added a mild reprimand of the occupation, boilerplate diplomatic talking points, and a vague charity program. Despite its perfunctory references to Palestinian human rights, Resolution 1 does not propose any concrete actions for pressuring Israel or its academic institutions into ending their discriminatory practices. Instead, it proposes “focusing research, debate, and teaching in and about the region,” as if the many anthropologists of Israel/Palestine who support an academic boycott have not been doing precisely this for decades. In restricting its criticism of Israeli policy to empty words, Resolution 1 disregards the unanimous conclusion of the AAA’s Task Force on Engagement with Israel/Palestine that censure alone would “be an insufficient course of action.” Continue reading

Stand in the Place Where You Live

Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions presents this compelling statement of support from the perspective of Latin Americanist anthropologist Diane Nelson.  She connects the struggles in Guatemala to those in Palestine via US empire and colonial processes of enclosure and dispossession. Just as the AAA has acted in the past to affirm that Guatemalan lives matter, it is time to assert that, in Nelson’s words, Palestinian lives matter too.

For more information on the upcoming boycott vote at the AAA, Friday November 20 at 6:15 pm, see Voting at #AAA2015 — What You Need to Know. VOTE YES on Resolution 2.

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Stand in the Place Where You Live

Diane M. Nelson

I support the AAA boycott resolution because I have spent 30 years as a gringa (North American) working in Guatemala amid the detritus of US support for genocidal military governments.  Working with Guatemalans struggling for equitable conditions of life, justice, and redress I have learned that a large part of my role is to bring that struggle back to the US because “we” are such a potent player in blocking, materially and ideologically, the efforts to make other worlds possible.  Guatemalan lives matter. Mayan lives matter.  Once I acknowledge this basic claim, I have to ask, Who gets away with murder?  Who gets away with theft?  Who gets away with destroying the ability to live and continue to generate life?  In Guatemala it is national oppressors with transnational banks and geopolitics and respectability (and some folks with crazy visions of apocalypse) backing them up.  Academics tend to have rather weak weapons against such foes.  Yet the intensity of the negative reactions to the BDS movement suggest we’ve found a finger in the wound, a way to catch the beast’s attention.  A way to bring struggles back to one of the many sources of injustice.  Claude Levi-Strauss suggests there is a mutilation inherent in the vocation of anthropology, that we tend to be critics at home and conformists abroad.  The BDS movement is precisely about criticizing at home, attempting to level the playing field so Israelis and Palestinians can work out possibilities without the enormous weight of an imperial power backing only one side. Continue reading

Making Black Lives Matter: Reflections on the Declaration and the Movement (Introduction Part II)

[Savage Minds is pleased to run the second part to the introduction for the “Making Black Lives Matter: Reflections on the Declaration and the Movement” series. Here, Bianca Williams continues with her keynote address from the #WeResist community summit, which took place in Denver in March 2015.]

I paused and looked around the room to see if people were still engaged. I saw my partner-in-resistance Amy E. Brown, a local community organizer nod her head as if to tell me to keep going, and so I pressed forward.

“I read a phenomenal expression of collective resistance and community-building in a statement from the People of Color Caucus at my alma mater, Duke University. This past week a Black woman on Duke’s campus was taunted by a group of white men who sang the racist SAE fraternity chant that has gone viral because of the video from the Oklahoma. Students of color got together and released the following statement, which I believe is a powerful and clear demonstration of how intersectionality and community-building work:

They write,

‘We know that racism does not exist as a lone system of oppression. We know that what happened to the young black woman on March 22 is connected to the institution’s decision to include a LGTBQ box for high school students to check on admission applications without addressing the gay bashing, absence of gender neutral accommodations, and general psychological violence that LGBTQ people confront as students upon arrival. We know that the racism entrenched in the institution is connected to the institution’s failure to make accommodations of accessibility actually accessible as the institution often makes deliberate decisions to invisibilize people with disabilities, such as making ramps difficult to find by placing them in the back of buildings. We know that the institutionalized racism that we face is connected to the victim-blaming and other mechanisms of silence that further traumatize survivors of sexual assault. We know that the institution’s racism is connected to the university’s failure to financially support the Office of Access and Outreach that was supposedly formed out of a commitment to support first generation and low-income college students.

Thus, we understand that struggle against racism is connected to and reinforced by other systems of oppression such as sexism, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, and classism. We cannot stand against racial injustice without acknowledging that all systems intersect to perpetrate violence against marginalized bodies. The same racial oppression that affects Black bodies is connected to the cis-heteropatriarchy that variably oppresses any and everyone whose masculinity is not fully accepted. The same racial oppression that affects Black bodies is connected to the systematic exclusion and invisibilization of non-able bodied or non-neurotypical peoples. The same racial oppression that affects Black bodies affects other minority bodies, including racial and religious minorities.  The same racial oppression that affects Black bodies is connected to the displacement and erasure of queer and non-normative bodied people.’

Continue reading

Dialogue as Diversion

Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions presents this incisive critique of the dialogue approach to ending the Israeli state’s occupation. Fida Adely and Amahl Bishara reveal how calls for dialogue mask a grossly asymmetric power relationship between Israel and the Palestinians.

For more information on the upcoming boycott vote at the AAA, Friday November 20 at 6:15 pm, see Voting at #AAA2015 — What You Need to Know. VOTE YES on Resolution 2.

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Dialogue as Diversion

Fida Adely & Amahl Bishara

What types of engagement are needed to end decades of occupation and repression of Palestinian human rights? Some call for more dialogue and argue that if only those interested in peace on “both sides” talked to each other more, this conflict would end. However, dialogue by itself will never end occupation. Across academic, cultural, and political fields, calls for dialogue obscure the tremendous asymmetries between Israel and Palestinians. In this way many dialogue initiatives disguise the real issues of settler-colonialism, oppression, and occupation, and act as a kind of marketing tool rebranding the reality of separation and apartheid as a fantasy of “coexistence.” Continue reading

Making Black Lives Matter: Reflections on the Declaration and the Movement (Introduction Part I)

[Savage Minds welcomes guest blogger Bianca Williams. She provides the first contribution to the series “Making Black Lives Matter: Reflections on the Declaration and the Movement.” Bianca is the author of The Pursuit of Happiness: Black Women and the Politics of Emotional Transnationalism, under contract with Duke University Press. Dana-Ain Davis, her co-editor for this series, is an Associate Professor at Queen’s College and the CUNY Graduate Center and co-author of Feminist Activist Ethnography (2013) with Christa Craven.]

As many prepare to attend AAA 2015 in a couple of weeks, some of us are remembering the variety of emotions and sentiments we brought to the meetings last year. Anger. Frustration. Sadness. A longing for justice and peace. A desire for change. A willingness to fight. An inability to proceed with business as usual. We watched Ferguson, Missouri erupt in rebellion on our televisions and computer screens the week before showing up in Washington, D.C. And then we gathered together during the meetings, simultaneously astonished and unsurprised by the news that those responsible for the death of Eric Garner would not be brought to justice. Numerous anthropologists made their voices heard at the AAA 2014 business meeting, demanding that the AAA Executive Board actively search for ways the discipline could intervene and push against the anti-Black practices and racist ideologies disproportionately affecting Black communities. Subsequently, the Working Group on Racialized Brutality and Extrajudicial Violence was created.

The Working Group has been charged with making efforts to track racialized police brutality and develop resources that will assist in reducing this form of state-sanctioned violence. As members of the Working Group, me and Dana-Ain Davis edited this series of essays centered on stories from the #BlackLivesMatter Movement. These short essays offer an ethnographic and/or self-reflexive lens on activities connected to the organizing and activism taking place in multiple communities and cities. While all the contributors do not identify as anthropologists, all use the tools of participant observation, auto-ethnography, and/or narrative to provide a snapshot of the #BLM Movement during the past year. Through their stories, we begin to understand the complexities and emotional toll of organizing and resistance, while also getting a sense of how new forms of connection and community can reinvigorate and feed the soul, even in the midst of crisis. We offer these essays as a way for anthropologists and all to reflect on where we were a year ago, and as a call to keep pressing forward. The struggle continues.

As the first contribution to this series of essays, I offer remarks I gave in a keynote address at the #WeResist community summit in Denver, Colorado in March 2015. After weeks of planning the summit with community members (who would eventually become members of Black Lives Matter 5280, a chartered chapter of the national BLM organization), I was asked to give  attendees a brief introduction to the strategies we were using to resist anti-Black racism. On this Sunday, I stood nervously at the altar of the First Unitarian Society of Denver, wondering if the multi-racial crowd would pleasantly receive my attempt to blend our group’s ever-evolving organizing tactics with the fierce analytics of Black feminist activist-scholars. I quickly glanced at the “Black Lives Matter” sign hanging behind me, took a deep breath, and began to speak: Continue reading

Zionism, Anti-Blackness, and the Struggle for Palestine

Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions presents Jemima Pierre’s powerful critique of anti-Black violence in Israel and its connections to the oppression of Palestinians. This essay is a very important anthropological contribution to the renewed U.S. Black-Palestinian solidarity sweeping the academy and beyond.

For more information on the upcoming boycott vote at the AAA, Friday November 20 at 6:15 pm, see: Voting at #AAA2015 — What You Need to KnowVOTE YES on Resolution #2.

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Zionism, Anti-Blackness, and the Struggle for Palestine

Jemima Pierre12

The video begins mid-action. A Black man sprawls on the ground. He seems injured. He tries to move but his efforts are slow, labored, slight. There is blood beneath him, fresh and bright against the polished white floor. On the edge of the frame, people move frantically. The Black man is encircled. Someone holding a gun – he looks like a soldier – steps forward and kicks the Black man in the head. From the bottom right of the screen, an orange bench is thrown, smashing into the head of the Black man. Someone – another soldier? – waves the others back and lifts the bench from the Black man’s head. Another man carrying a book bag quickly walks towards the Black man and swiftly kicks him in the head. His body spins across the floor, leaving a large smear of red blood. The man with the book bag walks away, unhurried. The Black man tries to lift his arm. A large White man places the legs of a tall stool over him. The man appears to be shielding the man on the floor from further attack; he yells at the crowd, flailing his arms, waving people away as they try to advance on the Black man. He is actually trying to keep the Black man from escaping. A person from the growing mob gets in another kick at the almost lifeless Black man on the ground, and the stool is briefly knocked away. The large man quickly replaces the stool over the victim while frantically screaming at and waving away the enraged mob.

I can no longer watch. Continue reading

Official #AAA2015 #tweetup planning thread

Ok trying to plan the tweetup for the AAAs on twitter is getting ridiculous because by the time you mention everyone who is involved in planning it there is no room for an actual message. So here is a thread where we can plan the time and date of the tweet up.

I am happy to coordinate this and provide enough structure that the discussion doesn’t flop around like a fish out of water and never reach a conclusion.

The only thing I’d like to emphasize is that the best day to have the tweetup is friday and usually we have had good results having it in the late afternoon/early evening so people can grab a bit and then head out to other events.

Usually what happens is we set a time and then when I arrive at AAAs I scout a location and then let people know where to meet on twitter. I’ll be arriving on Wednesday so I’ll have plenty of time to have a look around.

Things You Might Be Inclined To Say That People Say Every Year We Try To Organize This:

  1. “Why have it on Friday? Why not Saturday? (Or Thursday or Sunday)?”

Answer: Because Friday is the middle of the conference. It is actually less busy that Saturday, which is when most of the main parties are. Thursday not enough people have arrived. Sunday no one is around. And Wednesday? It’s like Thursday, but with even less people.

  1. “We can’t have it at that time because it overlaps with [something]!”

Answer: The tweetup will overlap with something. That is because the AAA schedule is ridounculous. Inevitably it is going to overlap with something. The goal is to have it overlap with the least number of things, not nothing. When planning the tweetup, if you don’t like a time, please demonstrate that it’s a bad time slot because it overlaps with many things, not one thing.

  1. “Why don’t we just have the tweetup at [some other event someone else is already organizing]?”

Answer: 1) Because no one will be able to hear a damn thing at that event anyway (Wenner-Gren I’m looking at you) 2) The purpose is to meet other anthropology tweeters and get to know them, not wander around a room full of people asking “do you tweet or are you just here to watch Marisol de la Cadena hand out drink tickets?” 3) It will be more intimate and allow real conversation with people  and 4) I sort of believe anthrotwitter flourishes when it isn’t coopted by some other organization.

So

I am thinking Friday evening/late afternoon. Theoretically it could be at lunch. What do you think?

My plan is to let this thread run for about a week and then see if we can reach agreement. If not, I’ll try to figure out what the closest thing is to agreement and then I’ll start broadcasting that as the date of the tweetup.

Myths and Facts About the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

Anthropologists for the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions is pleased to extend its original series on this blog in light of a boycott vote at the November 2015 American Anthropological Association meetings. Endorsed by Jewish Voice for Peace and over 1000 anthropologists, a pro-boycott resolution will be up for vote at the AAA Business Meeting at 6:15 pm on Friday, November 20. It is Resolution #2 on the docket. This post debunks common myths about the boycott, and urges all attending anthropologists to VOTE YES on #2 at the meeting.

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Myths and Facts about the Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions

 

Myth #1: The boycott prevents Israeli and U.S. scholars from working together.

Fact: The boycott is not directed at individuals; it is directed at the institutions in which they work. It does not deny Israeli scholars the right to attend conferences (including the AAA meetings), speak at or visit U.S. universities, or publish their work in AAA publications. Nor will boycott prevent U.S. scholars from traveling to Israel. Individual AAA members will remain free to decide whether and how to implement the boycott on their own.

 

Myth #2: Dialogue is a better way to support Palestinian rights than a boycott.

Fact: Boycott and dialogue are not incompatible; individuals will continue to dialogue even after this institutional boycott is implemented. But dialogue is not enough. Despite decades of dialogue and diplomacy, Israel has continued to act with impunity and the occupation has grown only more entrenched and dangerous. The anti-boycott resolution, “Engaging Israel Palestine: End the Occupation, Oppose Academic Boycott, Support Dialogue” (Resolution #1) simply repackages the status quo of dialogue without justice, and flies in the face of the unanimous conclusion of the AAA Task Force on Israel-Palestine that it is time for the Association to take significant action. Continue reading