AAA/CASCA Executive Program Committee
Presidential - Oral Presentation Session
Abstract: Practicing/professional anthropologists still express unease at annual meetings and elsewhere about their status within anthropology. Academic anthropologists convey uncertainty about what practitioners do and ask how they can steer relevant students into meaningful practice. Students are unsure of their anthropological identity, as are those anthropologists seeking stable employment or a change in job type. In this session, we discuss professional struggles tied to a changing discipline as well as models for creating more room for anthropological diversity, unity, and equity. The issue is multi-faceted:
• Anthropological employment patterns reinforce the silos between academia and practice, resulting in high social distance and differentiated beliefs about social status
• Many practicing/professional anthropologists and those facing employment uncertainty or insecurity feel disconnected from academic anthropologists and from the AAA, leading to AAA membership loss
• Anthropology does not benefit routinely and sufficiently from a collective vision to collaborate across silos by integrating academia and practice and the work done in those spheres
• Anthropology’s impact on people, communities, and organizations is far less than it could be.
AAA is increasingly attentive to both current and aspiring practitioners and to anthropologists experiencing job insecurity by ensuring library services (i.e., AnthroSource), supporting NAPA (e.g., Careers Expo, professional skills workshops), sponsoring the EPIC conference, and encouraging representation in AAA governance (e.g., MPAAC, CoPAPIA), among other initiatives. These efforts help the discipline adapt to changing employment trends through training and networking. Yet, practice remains “siloed” and many feel detached from academic anthropology. Consequences include: AAA membership erosion, inadequate preparation of students for the job market, research that often disregards application, lack of appreciation of practitioner technical skills and contributions to anthropological knowledge, and limited understanding of anthropological work in society.
This session builds on these AAA efforts by proposing integration of practitioners and academic anthropologists in joint collaborations. The presentations begin with an overview of employment within the AAA membership, followed by a discussion of the relationship between theory and practice in science and the potential role of strong collaborative projects in raising the profile of anthropology in the larger world beyond AAA. Next, three demonstration projects serve as replicable models for collaboration in our complex, dynamic field. This session represents a call to action. What do we, as the AAA, desire for our collective future? What are our goals? How will we adopt, adapt, and create new models to develop as a collaborative discipline, using both theory and practice and reaching out to “the other”? How do we scale up collaboration within the discipline to be more engaged with each other and the world around us? We encourage your participation because “We are AAA” and this is our problem to solve.