Reviewed by: Association of Senior Anthropologists
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Teaching
Secondary Theme: Policy
This round table brings together senior and junior anthropologists to discuss current topics in the discipline and the role of anthropology in recent public debates. Drawing on participants’ varied personal and professional experiences, we will reflect on fieldwork as a defining aspect of the discipline as well as anthropology’s place in universities and American culture more broadly.
While fieldwork has been a rite of passage that unites different generations of anthropologists, practices of fieldwork, the experience of doing it, and its enabling assumptions and conditions have also transformed over the decades. What intellectual and economic developments have contributed to these transformations? How do they affect the definition and practice of our discipline? To what extent is fieldwork a form of political engagement and/or personal discovery? We will also consider anthropology’s changing public engagements both within universities and beyond. While there is a generally held belief that our discipline contributed to the conceptualization of an anti-racist agenda in the first half of the twentieth century, and developed hand in hand the civil rights movement, how does anthropology carry on this legacy and speak to contemporary debates about race, ethnicity and gender that are prevalent on college campuses and in society at large? What is or could be the role of anthropology in the public sphere today?
The round table will invite participants to speak to these topics through questions about, among other topics, their discovery of anthropology, graduate training, emotional engagement with interlocutors, discoveries while conducting research, interactions with field sites and consultants over time, relationships with mentors and students, and their engagement with publics beyond academic settings.