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Anthropology matters! is a call across the field to unite in our diversity, to embrace difficulty, be vibrant messmates, and promote the relevance of what anthropology is and does. Anthropology is best at describing the past, exploring the present, predicting the future, and navigating the processes of being and becoming human.
Emphasizing the relationship between anthropology and recent social movements, Leith Mullings used the phrase “anthropology matters” in her 2013 AAA Presidential Address to highlight the important spaces that have emerged for theoretical and methodological innovation as anthropologists help solve human problems through education and advocacy. The world of the Anthropocene, packed with meaning and crisis, needs anthropologists with critical skills in empowering subaltern voices and practices. Biomedicine and racialized neo-eugenics are substantive obstacles to social justice, health and well-being. Crises over nationalism, (im)migration, biology/politics, and inequality are constantly erupting in the 21st century. Biodiversity, and the manipulation of biotic materials in the marketplace, generate multispecies ecologies that shape the daily experiences of humans globally. Mainstream media pundits, disingenuous politicians, legal scholars, psychologists and economists tend to dominate the public discourse on life, law, economics, sports, and entertainment--the panoply of human experience. We are in the midst of substantial (re)writing of histories, presents and futures. The Anthropocene pleas for anthropological investigation, translation, influence, and action. Let anthropology respond. Loudly.
We need to continue to move beyond divisive debates about ownership, terminology, and classification and into fruitful dialogues across, between, within, outside and throughout our practices. It is not about agreeing on what “anthropology” is, nor is it about labeling and classifying any particular set of anthropologies as valid and others as not. Rather, we will gather in opposition to strict boundaries, spill across academic divides, and blur the synthetic lines that isolate good questions from generously intellectual and fearlessly anthropological investigation. Questions, methods, outcomes and actions are the substance of anthropology. The 2017 meetings are an opportunity to think and act together, to adventure and experiment, to agree and disagree openly and emphatically, and to demonstrate why anthropology matters.
Anthropology matters in the academy, in the larger world, and across time. But we don’t always show it. At the 2017 meeting it is time to “put up or shut up.”
This is a call for panels/workshops/events that involve investigation, translation, influence, and action:
To each other
To other fields
To the public
To governments and policy-makers
As activists and intellectual insurgents
As authors/media content creators/story tellers
As an association (AAA and all the sections)
In collaboration with vital agents and vibrant matter
We hope you will submit a proposal for a session, a workshop, a poster symposium, for something risky and exciting. We ask you to be innovative, fearless, generous and challenging. Anthropology should never “shut up.” We should be vociferous, committed, adventurous and expansive. Washington, D.C. in November 2017 is the place to be.