Anthropologists without borders: Canadian and American associations to meet in Vancouver

Anthropologists without borders: Canadian and American associations to meet in Vancouver

Mardi, août 13, 2019

Guest blog by Dr. Martha Radice, Associate Professor, Sociology and Social Anthropology, Dalhousie University,
Editor-in-Chief, Journal for Undergraduate Ethnography and Program Co-Chair, CASCA-AAA 2019.

AAC Logo that says "Changing Climates / Changer d'air"For the first time, the Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA) will hold its annual conference jointly with the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in Vancouver from November 20 to 24, 2019. The jointly developed conference theme is Changing Climates: Struggle, Collaboration, and Justice / Changer d’air: Lutte, collaboration et justice.

“We are very excited about this theme,” said Nicole Peterson, Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Executive Program Co-Chair for the AAA. “We are inviting anthropologists and their collaborators to think about how we engage with issues of change over time to envision and build a more equitable future. We’re thinking about climates in terms of the environment, of course, but also the other contexts in which we work: social and political climates as well as climates for research, for teaching, and for inclusion and equity.”

The land on which the organizations will gather is the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. “There’s a very important tradition in Canadian anthropology of conducting research with First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Because of this, we wanted to highlight how anthropology connects to Indigenous communities through active collaborations and reflect on how we deal with our implications in ongoing coloniality,” said Pam Downe, Associate Professor at the University of Saskatchewan and Executive Program Co-Chair for CASCA.

In this spirit, the keynote speaker will be Douglas Cardinal, renowned Canadian architect of Métis, Blackfoot/Kainai, German and Algonquin heritage, who envisions his buildings in intimate relation with their environment as well as their users. He will be in conversation with Monica Heller, a Canadian linguistic anthropologist and Professor at the University of Toronto, who is also a former President of the AAA. A special presidential panel has also been convened in recognition that 2019 is the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages.

The joint conference marks a monumental first for both organizations. Planning started in 2013, with a memorandum of understanding signed the following year. “It is an exciting opportunity for CASCA to partner with the AAA, but also a major challenge to mesh our two organizations, especially since CASCA is significantly smaller than AAA!” said Martha Radice, Associate Professor at Dalhousie University and the other Executive Program Co-Chair for CASCA. “For instance, we usually meet in May, not November like the AAA, so we held an online Annual General Meeting in May 2019 to fulfil our obligations to our members.”

Both organizations strove to make the scientific program as “joint” as possible, which meant harmonizing the submissions and review systems. “The AAA staff have been incredibly generous and patient with us as we adapt to their system,” said Martha Radice. “As challenging as it is to organize, a spirit of cooperation and collegiality runs through all dimensions of this event.”

Sabrina Doyon, CASCA President and Professor at Université Laval agrees. “We are really looking forward to reflecting with our American sister organization on the struggles, collaborations, and justice-centered dimensions of our discipline’s work in changing climates.”

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