APLA at that AAA Meetings, Washington D.C. 2014

Photo by Will Marlow

CC BY NC Photo by Will Marlow

Final preparations for the 2014 AAA Annual Meeting in Washington, DC have begun! As usual, APLA is sponsoring a wide range of scholarly sessions, events and workshops, including workshops for graduate students and a salon and reception in honor of our journal, the Political and Legal Anthropology Review (PoLAR). Please mark your calendars for this special event, “Producing Political And Legal Knowledge Through Cross-Disciplinary Engagements in the Political and Legal Anthropology Review,” to be held Wednesday, December 3 from 6-8 pm at the area bookshop Busboys & Poets (at their 14th and V location, 2021 14th St NW). Come to participate and mingle!

This year’s events continue our focus from 2013 on issues of publishing, scholarly communication, and broadening the reach of political and legal anthropology.  The Business Meeting (held on Saturday, December 6 from 1:00 pm to 2:15 pm) will feature news from the Future of Publishing Subcommittee; a report about the creation of a new Law and Society Association research network for “Ethnography, Law & Society”; and the awarding of the first ever APLA Book Prize.  In addition, the APLA Paper Prize will not only be announced at the business meeting, but there will be a special panel devoted to the finalists where they will present their papers and receive comments from mentor-discussants (Thursday, December 4, 1:00 pm-2:15 pm).

Read on for more details and updates on selection procedures from the program committees.

Graduate Student and Early-Career Events

By Josh Clark (APLA Graduate Program Committee)

The APLA Graduate Program Committee is organizing a slate of five mentoring workshops to be held during the AAA meetings, aiming to bring together graduate students with faculty who share thematic, theoretical, or methodological concerns. Visit aplaorg.org in mid-September to find more information and to apply.

APLA will also host a special evening panel for graduate students and recent PhDs entitled, “Launching a Career in Academia” (Thursday, December 4, 8:30–9:45 pm). This panel will address topics including publication, job applications, interview strategies, tenure and work-life balance; all graduate students and recent PhDs are welcome.

APLA’s Junior Faculty Committee and Graduate Program Committee have jointly organized a professional development roundtable and discussion entitled, “Digital Anthropology and Career Mobility: Do These Go Hand-In-Hand?” (Friday, December 5, 7:45–9:00 am); and the Junior Faculty Committee has organized a mentoring event for early-career scholars on the topic, “Building a Research Agenda” (Saturday, December 6, 7:30-9:00 am).

Panels: New Selection Process and Invited Sections

By Heath Cabot and Jeff Martin (APLA Program Committee)

This year, APLA is sponsoring 54 panels. The submissions were, across the board, remarkably strong: cohesive, thoughtfully articulated and showcasing a range of debates and discussions currently taking place in political and legal anthropology. Some cross-cutting themes include anthropology and its publics; new ethnographies of the state; the weird and the uncanny; citizenship, migration and belonging; and justice, knowledge and legal processes. A number of panels also interrogate methodological and ethical questions.

The selection process was particularly challenging this year, owing to changes in the process as well as the lower acceptance rate, thanks to the smaller venue in Washington DC. As section editors, we do not simply reject papers or panels; acceptance is based on a ranking system and the ultimate number of submissions across all sections. The AAA program committee makes final decisions, and the section process involves ranking submitted panels based on cohesiveness and quality, and forming new panels from individually-submitted papers (which we then also rank).

This year, we learned after the selection process that there was a much higher number of rejections across all sections due to limited space. There was extensive debate among all program coordinators during the scheduling process, and we believe the AAA program committee will be looking to refine a process that is more predictable for all involved. Another relevant change in the programming process was that double panels were no longer accepted.

The competition for invited status was also particularly high this year, since this process for submission and selection also changed: we the section editors were free to select invited sessions out of the entire pool of APLA submissions. Moreover, we also considered sessions that other sections brought to us to co-sponsor. APLA has six “credits” to bestow on invited sessions, and two credits are necessary to sponsor a session—single credits may be combined with other sections to form a co-sponsorship. We made our choices based on the panel’s engagement with emergent and highly relevant themes in political and legal anthropology, capacity to speak to audiences outside of APLA, and the quality and cohesiveness of the papers. We also took particular note of panels that sought to relate to the Meetings’ theme of “Producing Anthropology” and which invited participants to consider questions of method, knowledge, and truth. We sponsored five sessions, three of which we sponsored with the American Ethnological Society and one which we sponsored with the Society for Linguistic Anthropology.

Here is a short preview of the invited sessions, but please go to the online schedule and browse all the excellent panels in the APLA program:

  • The Invisible Specter: Linguistic Anthropology, Neoliberal Morality, and The Linguistic Incarnations of The Enterprising Self, organized by Aurora Donzelli. Wednesday, December 3: 12-1:45 pm.
  • The Pragmatics of Jurisdiction, the Limits of Sovereignty, organized by Jeffrey Kahn and Justin B Richland. Thursday, December 4: 9:00-10:45 am.
  • Anthropological Approaches to Law, Gender, and Human Rights: Papers in Honor of Sally Engle Merry, organized by Ram Natarajan and Amy L Field. Friday, December 5: 9:00-10:45 am.
  • Silence In/And Ethnography: Cartographies Of Power And Knowledge In Anthropology And Its Publics, organized by Natasha Zaretsky. Friday, December 5: 11:00 am-12:45 pm.
  • The “Coefficient of Weirdness”: Paranoia, Conspiracy, and the Unintelligible in Rational Institutions, organized by Leo Coleman and Noelle Mole. Sunday, December 7: 8:00-9:45 am.

Please send ideas for future columns to the contributing editors, Leo Coleman at Coleman.514@osu.edu and Allison Fish at aefish@ucdavis.edu. 

About Andrea Ballestero

Assistant Professor of Anthropology Rice University

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