Thursday, November 15, 2012

AAA in San Francisco

I am in San Francisco to attend the 111th annual meeting of the American anthropological Association. I have been attending these meetings regularly now since 2003 and I am kind of getting meeting fatigue. When I started attending I was all excited about listening to paper presentations and learn what new trends there are in our discipline. Today that excitement has dwindled and when I arrived yesterday and picked up my registration material I went through the program and there was nothing that struck me as exciting except the meetings I am involved in as president of our association (Association for Africanist Anthropology). As I was lying in my bed in my room I remembered an invitation to attend the inaugural AAA panel organized by the program chair Dr Carolyn Rouse of Princeton. I am glad I was able to attend because the panelists talked about the language of race in the just concluded electioneering process in the US. Thereafter I joined fellow members of the executive program committee for this year's meetings at a small reception in Carolyn's suite and met new folks and learned a little more about humans including the intriguing projections of what would happen if New York was flooded and the Japanese nuclear reactors failed. These scenarios were margined and presented publicly but when the actual disasters hit nothing had been done to prepare for them. I also learned about the complex lives of hunter gatherer societies that were involved in agriculture and trade in earlier centuries before reverting to hunting and gathering. This approach of course challenges what had been assumed in the pad about hunter gathering as the relics of our Stone Age economic practices. It is exciting to be at the AAA after all but I am finding that excitement outside of the regular paper presentations. I will try to go to a few presentations especially the ones where the presenters talk about issues relating to children and youth in Africa. So more next time.

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