ASA Sessions at the 2011 Annual AAA Meetings in Montreal

The November 16-20 encounter in Canada was the largest in AAA history as we were joined by the Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA) in the giant conference center in downtown Montreal (See the ASA Column for March 2012 for Nancy Lurie’s adventure there).

The ASA highlights were the two very well-attended Invited Sessions at the Montreal meetings our largest program in our 21-year the history. Coincidentally by way of commemoration we had 21 presenters and discussants! The initial session, First Fieldwork, was organized by Susan Kenyon became “standing room only” as Sidney Greenfield, Lucy Cohen, Herb Lewis, Paula Rubel, Eileen Kane, Myrdene Anderson, Jim Weil, Margaret Blackman, Susan Kenyon and Judy Rosenthal’s papers were presented and then discussed by Alma Bottlieb and Edith turner.

The presenters in second session organized by ASA President-elect Paula Rubel and Leonard Plotnikov, Of Mentors and Mentoring, analyzed the influence, good and questionable, of many well-known anthropologists on their anthropological careers. These insightful papers and their topics were by Abraham Rosman (George Peter Murdock), Harumi Befu (Edward Norbeck), Riva Berleant (David Bidney), Stanley Brandes (George Foster), Wiliam Jankowiak (Paul Bohannan), Leonard Plotnikov (Walter Dyk), Moshe Shokied (Max Gluckman), Glenn Davis Stone (Bob Netting) and discussed by Phyllis Passariello. Following this session there was a presentation by Phillip Singer about his interview and video project on “Cultural Anthropologists Confront Their Mortality. ” He showed a short preview of the video made with his associate, Peter Goodman and elicited comments from the audience, That turned out to be an interesting and challenging discussion about privacy issues and public use permissions for video shot at the meetings.

The ASA annual Board, Business and Member Luncheon was “sandwiched” between the aforementioned sessions and held at the Le Bourlingueur restaurant where we had an overflow crowd of members who enjoyed good Quebecois cuisine and anthropological conversation. A reminder to ASA members: your annual $10 dollar dues in ASA entitles you can to take advantage of this unique member benefit, so we hope to see you in San Francisco and meetings and luncheon. ASA believes that Seniors deserve a “free lunch” at meetings to accompany the annual business discussions.

ASA invites you to participate in our session(s) on November 14-18 2012. Deadlines for submission in March 1.

Alice Kehoe, our program chair, calls your attention to the proposed sessions:



Longitudinal research unites memory with experience, archival review with present observations, old identities with shifts in authenticity, status, influence, and authority. Alliances shift; networks expand and contract. Changes in an investigator’s life and domestic cycles and career shift identity, opening up new opportunities for inquiry. Entering once, perhaps as a foreign visitor, then returning as family with children, likely re-identifies and relocates us socially, influencing how we regain access and rapport in the community. We may become privy to observations not possible on previous visits, on topics not previously imagined. Deepening levels of trust, divulgence, and intimacy, as well as gains in mutual understanding, suggest a range of genre from the literary to the scientific, as one seeks to convey the intangible. How does one manage the dilemma of confidentiality versus recognition, articulate explication verses evocative representation, shifting time periods and perspectives, and the unfolding drama of successive revelations, discoveries, misconceptions and corrections? Genre for representation may range from memoir, fictive or non-fictive narrative, local history, drama, memoir, or even film, short story, novel, saga, or epic. Writing across decades spans shifts in intellectual styles and concerns. Criteria for professional writing have shifted from claims of “objectivity” to increased reflexivity, with calls for a richer inclusion of investigators in the presentations of their findings. This session wants collegial discussions of writing experience meshed with our anthropological expertise. If interested in presenting a paper, contact Tom directly via email ([email protected])

In Response to a request from Carol Greenhouse for Executive Sessions dealing with the meeting theme’ “Borders and Crossings” a proposal was sent forward for consideration by Paul Doughty ([email protected])

Borderline Cultures: The Challenge of Living Between Societies

Organizer: Paul Doughty ([email protected])

Abstract: Millions of people inevitably live in societal contexts riven by national boundaries and or involving competing or contrasting cultures and their institutions. The US Mexican and Canadian borders offer examples of these issues and the many borders of the Middle East, Europe and elsewhere around the world do likewise. People who regularly live at the arbitrary edge between ongoing cultural and political systems face multiple challenges and conflicts in daily life. These range from coping with two or more languages, well-being, religion, power, cultural values, differing laws and civic demands or prohibitions. Adaptations to these circumstances may favor one side of the boundary or another, produce a socio-cultural amalgam or an embittered insular rejection of relations between groups among other adjustments. What can be learned from the examination of these situations that today as in the past trigger profound cultural conflicts, unsought social change, antagonisms and war? How does the arbitrariness of national boundaries produce or resolve such problems? What mechanisms can ameliorate the problems created by such divisions? What constructive cultural features evolve in these contexts and how can they be encouraged?

(Contact Paul directly if interested)

Proposals for other sessions are welcomed

Send your proposal session title and abstract to


Before the March 1 DEADLINE

Photos from the ASA 2011 Montreal Meeting – People and Events