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The AAA and Anthropology: Today’s View

Dr Edward Liebow, American Anthropological Association

Monday 15 June at 5.30 pm

Abstract: This talk will offer a jazz riff weaving together three themes.

First, what is distinctively “American” about the American Anthropological Association today? Has the “four-field” approach, which encompasses archaeology, linguistic, biological, and cultural anthropology, framed some special opportunities for advancing a richly textured understanding of the human condition, or sown the seeds of its own destruction? Second, what is our view from across the pond of the current state of anthropological scholarship? Clearly, a productive tension is found between advancing human understanding and applying that understanding to tackling the world’s most pressing problems. But is our work all that relevant? A recent AAA survey found that 81% of our members strongly believe “anthropologists should play a stronger role in public debates over social issues.” At the same time only 52% believe their “work as anthropologists has clear public policy implications,” and only 44% think that their work is “relevant to the day to day lives of the average citizen.” And the final theme has to do with what case can be made for a membership association today, especially one organized according to national boundaries? AAA is an odd amalgam of an association of individual scholars and professionals (more than 20% of whom are from outside the US), on the one hand, and a confederacy of organizations defined by content or area specialty, on the other. Why for that matter should anyone wish to join an association if the journal is on the web?

Edward Liebow is Executive Director of the American Anthropological Association in Washington, DC. He was appointed to this position in 2012, after more than 25 years as a research scientist and then director of public health research for the Battelle Memorial Institute, a worldwide non-profit R&D think tank.

This event is free, but tickets must be booked. To book tickets please go to http://edwardliebow.eventbrite.co.uk