APLA at AAA 2016 Preview

Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 4.25.05 PMBy Erica Bornstein and Jessica Greenberg

APLA has an exciting roster of events planned for the AAA meetings this year including 43 sessions, graduate student workshops, early career mentoring events and a presentation of the annual APLA Graduate Student Paper Prize and APLA Book Prize. This year, the business meeting will feature a moderated conversation with Bianca Williams and Awa Abdi on their anti-racism advocacy work with Black Lives Matter and immigrant groups. Bianca Williams is Associate Professor at University of Colorado, moderator of the Association of Black Anthropologists, member of the AAA Working Group on Racialized Brutality and Extrajudicial Violence, and a BLM organizer in Denver. Awa (Cawo) Abdi is Associate Professor of Sociology at University of Minnesota who teaches and writes about Islamophobia, xenophobia, terrorism panics, and Somali immigrant experience in the US and elsewhere. 

This year’s program demonstrates the growing relevance of political and legal anthropology for some of the discipline’s most pressing challenges from security and borders to environmental planning and political protest. Several sessions continue to define the exciting and important field of the anthropology of police and policing. A group of panels cluster around new practices of political resistance, from indignation to the effects of popular uprisings over time. APLA’s approach to the question of evidence also weaves political and legal analysis with science and technology studies, environmental anthropology and human rights. Panelists will examine how natural resources can be made to function as evidence by linking analysis of environmental processes, materiality and epistemology. Other participates will address how evidence is generated through processes of secrecy rather than revelation. In addition, our panels continue a long-standing commitment to questions of social justice, highlighting questions of indigeneity, inequality and rights. Overall, our panels continue to blend cutting edge theoretical trends with ethnographic attention to the state, citizenship, migration, political violence, political economy and law.

Invited Sessions

This year’s theme of Evidence was particularly fruitful for collaboration and co-sponsorship. APLA will co-sponsor four invited sessions:

  • Evidence of Malfeasance” (co-sponsored with American Ethnological Society) focuses on the changing ways people assess wrongdoing.
  • Life Matters: Accountability, Complicity, Politics” (co-sponsored with the Society for Cultural Anthropology) explores violent contexts where people assert that life matters.
  • Human Rights Vernacularizations: Celebrating Sally Engle Merry” (also co-sponsored with American Ethnological Society), honors the work of one of APLA’s most illustrious members.
  • Post-Genomic Constitutions: Law, Science and the Politics of Inclusion” (co-sponsored with the Society for Medical Anthropology) explores relationships between molecular technologies and legal, bio-ethical and bureaucratic forums.

These are just a few of the terrific panels slated for APLA’s AAA program. Visit the up-to-date APLA website as the conference date draws near for more information on featured panels.

Mentoring Events and Workshops

The APLA Graduate Student Committee will host its annual mentoring workshops during the 2016 AAA annual meeting in Minneapolis. As in previous years, these workshops aim to provide an intimate space for students to receive feedback from two to three faculty mentors. Each workshop focuses on theoretical or methodological concerns which graduate students encounter while conducting fieldwork or writing their dissertations. This year’s themes include a two-part workshop on anthropology and activism:

  • “Political Engagement through Writing” and “Politics and Ethics of Studying Social Movements”
  • “Nationalism and Charismatic Leaders”
  • “Conceptualizing Decay in Political and Legal Anthropological Frameworks”
  • “The Military, The Law”
  • “Temporalities of Law”

Each workshop is limited to six graduate students. Registration is based on a brief application process and preference is given to advanced graduate students (although graduate students of all levels are welcome to apply). These workshops are held off conference grounds and will not appear in the AAA meeting schedule; please visit the APLA website in September for more information on workshop themes and applications.

APLA will host a special evening panel entitled, “Navigating the Job Market” on Friday, November 18, 7:45 pm to 9:00 pm. The panel is open to everyone and will address topics including publication, job applications, interview strategies, tenure and work-life balance. No registration is required. Contact Zahirah Suhaimi and Suraiya Jetha with any further questions.

APLA’s mentoring of early career scholars continues with two Early Career mentoring events that are free and open to all conference attendees:

  • “Writing for the Media” asks how we, as anthropologists, can contribute to public discussions on current events by using the media to reach broader audiences. Anthropologists Tanya Luhrmann (Stanford U), Gabriella Coleman (McGill U), and Alex Fattal (Penn State U) will share tips with junior scholars who are interested in writing feature articles, op-eds and commentaries. The workshop will take place on Friday, November 18, from 12:15 pm to 1:30 pm.  For more information on this event, please contact Ieva Jusionyte.
  • “Crafting a Scholarly Profile and Building Your Professional Network.”  Participants are invited to bring a 300-word scholarly profile for peer feedback on how to best represent one’s interests and research. This discussion will be the basis for coordinating small post-conference writing groups among participants who share topical or geographical interests, and who would like to continue to share work and feedback in the future. The event will take place on Thursday, November 17, from 12:15 pm to 1:30 pm. Please RSVP to Christine Hegel-Cantarella by November 15 if you would like to attend.

Graduate Student Paper & Book Prize and Business Meeting

The business meeting which will be held on Saturday, November 19, from 12:15 pm to 1:30 pm. In addition to our usual business, APLA will also host a special moderated discussion Bianca Williams and Awa Abdi on their anti-racism advocacy work with Black Lives Matter and immigrant groups.

As is tradition, we will announce the winners of the prestigious APLA Graduate Student Paper Prize and APLA Book Prize. This year’s graduate student paper competition boasted 46 submissions from a diverse set of disciplines including, Anthropology, Policy and Legal Studies programs and from both domestic and international programs. The prize winner will receive a cash prize of $350.00, plus travel expenses of up to $650.00 to attend the AAA annual meeting and receive the prize in person. The winner will be featured in Anthropology News, and the winning paper will be considered for publication in the peer-reviewed journal of the Association for Political and Legal Anthropology, PoLAR: The Political and Legal Anthropology Review. The winner of the annual APLA Book Prize will be featured in Anthropology News, receive a cash prize of $1000.00 and their book will be reviewed in our journal, PoLAR: The Political and Legal Anthropology Review.

Make sure to mark your calendars for these exciting events. We look forward to seeing you there.

About Jennifer Curtis

Jennifer Curtis is an Honorary Fellow in Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh: http://www.sps.ed.ac.uk/staff/social_anthropology/curtis_jennifer.

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