Meetings

San Francisco Salons 2012 Annual Meeting

Salons have historically been events that bring together fun, education, and hospitality.  It is in this spirit that we welcome association members to our AAA salons led by a team of extraordinary scholars.  Each salon focuses on an older anthropological text.  We hope that the discussions will not only renew our sense of our discipline's history, we hope that people will break bread with new colleagues and old friends." 

Salon participation is limited to 8 registrants per salon. Salons are a no fee event but require pre-registration. All participants will be listed in the final online program. The salons will take place in a café located within walking distance to the meeting hotels; final location as well as works that will be discussed will be emailed to registered participants. Meeting registrants can add a salon to their existing meeting registration, or can register for the meeting and a salon online.

French Orientalism and Vietnamese Religion:  Leopold Cadiere

Date: Thursday November 15 
Time: 2:00 pm - 3:20pm
Chairs: Janet Hoskins (USC) and Thien-Huong Ninh (Williams College)

Leopold Cadiere (1869-1955) was a French Catholic missionary who played a foundational role in the French School of Orientalist Studies and who wrote the first relatively comprehensive study of religion in Vietnam.  From 1892 onwards he lived and worked in Vietnam, mainly in a rural area in central Vietnam near the imperial capital of Hue, and he published a very large number of articles about culture, linguistics, history and religion.  He was an "Orientalist" in the French scholarly tradition, and today we can appreciate both the value of the documentation he presented of rural life and beliefs, and the ways in which he was still very much a man of his time.  This salon examines the problematic position of Orientalist studies in post-Saidian present, and seeks to start a conversation about how to use these early studies in relation to ethnographic research done in the 21st century.

Wajima Salon at the 2012 AAA meetings

Date: Thursday November 15 
Time: 5:00pm-6:20pm
Chairs: Junko Habu (UC Berkeley) and Mio Katayama (UC Berkley)

Seiichi Wajima (1909-1971) was a Japanese archaeologist who advocated the importance of outreach and community-based archaeology as early as the 1950s.  In pre-war Japan, ultra-nationalistic ideology that focused on emperor worship prevailed.  Under these circumstances, any archaeological scholarship that questioned the official interpretations of the sanctity of the imperial lineage was strictly banned.  After Japan's defeat in 1945, its nationalist focus shifted abruptly way from the emperor and archaeology became an effective method to create a new Japanese national identity.  In this political climate, Wajima conducted the excavation of the Tsukinowa Mound Tomb (AD 5th Cent.) in Okayama Prefecture, Japan.  This was an explicit attempt 1) to use "archaeology as science" as a tool to fight against emperor-centered view of Japanese history, 2) to criticize the authenticity of two ancient Japanese textual sources, Kojiki and Nihon-shoki, 3) to conduct an archaeological excavation with peoples of diverse socio-cultural and economic background, and 4) to propose communal ownership of archaeological heritage.  This salon examines the historical contexts in which this early work of community-based archaeology emerged and compares characteristics of Wajima's approaches with those of outreach efforts in Anglo-American archaeology.  Topics to be discussed include the concept of "archaeology as science," the importance and problems of early texts, legends and oral history as a line of evidence, collaboration with various stake-holders, and the ownership of archaeological heritage.  Participants of the salon are expected to read a translated version of Wajima's 1954 article and watch a short film of the excavation of the Tsukinowa Tomb before the meeting.

Edward Sapir on the Crucible and Conduit of Culture

Date: Thursday November 15 
Time: 7:30pm-8:50pm
Chairs: Michael and Keith

Edward Sapir (1884-1939) was one of the great founders of the modern discipline of linguistics, a discipline centered on the fact that language is the most complete and adaptable cognitive structure for representing universes of experience and imagination. The greatest of anthropological linguists, in this mode he described numerous indigenous American languages and pioneered the comparative-historical linguistics of their prehistories. In his synthetic encyclopedia essays written late in his life, however, Sapir turns to the totality of not only language structure in the first sense, but also its patterns of communicative implementation at several levels of abstraction and many scales of inclusiveness — the data of the field we now term linguistic anthropology — as central to the constitution of human sociality. This salon aims to explore the linguistic infrastructure of culture as well as the cultural constitution of language as suggested by Sapir's rich account.

New Frontiers for the Body

Date: Friday November 16 
Time: 10:30am-11:50am
Chairs: Setha Low and Christopher Baum (GC CUNY) and John Jackson (UPENN)

French sociologist Marcel Mauss (1872-1950) is perhaps best recognized for his theorization of reciprocity in the 1923 text Essai sur le don (The Gift) in which he seeks meaning beyond the economic dimensions of gifts to explore how they function within a system of "total prestation" (i.e. bound up in exchanges of actions, ritual, magic, dances, etc).  Mauss is less recognized for his early contributions to theorizations of "bodies" and the introduction of the notion of "habitus" with his 1934 essay "Les Techniques du corps" ("Techniques of the Body"). In outlining these "techniques," Mauss takes the body as a starting-point, and outlines how we inhabit our bodies across cultural, gender, and generational lines, bringing biological, psychological and social processes together through material and magical bodily practices.Today, after much work has been done on the body and investigations of embodiment, this salon offers an opportunity to think about what are the "new frontiers of the body?"  What pressing "techniques"of the body are relevant today, or is this framing still appropriate? What forms of protest and space do these techniques enable or reframe in contemporary society?Please join us for an intriguing discussion and commentary.

Transpecies Satire:  The Mikhail Bulgakov Salon


Date: Friday November 16 
Time: 4:00pm - 5:20 pm
Chairs: Lesley A. Sharp (Barnard College) and Janelle S. Taylor (University of Washington)

This salon considers the unsettling possibilities of medical enhancement, eugenics, and embodied interspeciality, as encountered in Mikhail Bulgakov's Heart of a Dog, a Russian novella from the early twentieth century. Bulgakov (1891-1940) was born in Kiev, trained as a physician, and served several stints as a military doctor during WWI and the Russian Civil War (suffering grievous injury, morphine addiction, and a nearly fatal bout of typhus along the way). Abandoning his career as a doctor after the Russian Revolution, Bulgakov moved to Moscow and became a writer. His 1925 novel, Heart of a Dog (first published in 1968) blends acerbic wit with science fiction and political parody in the story of a stray dog taken in by a famous surgeon, who transplants into him the organs of a drunken proletarian man, with disastrous and hilarious consequences.  Bulgakov's "biting" satire offers an intriguing contrast to such familiar classics as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) and H.G. Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896). This salon asks how anthropologists might engage with imaginative, satirical literature and the fears, fantasies, and critical insights expressed there -- regarding, for instance, the transfer of body parts, the blurring between self and other, and the blending of disparate species?

Karl Mannheim Salon

Date: Friday November 16 
Time: 6:30pm- 7:50 pm
Chairs: Carola Lentz (Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz) and Andrea Behrends (Martin Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg)

Karl Mannheim (1893-1947), a Hungarian-born philosopher and sociologist who taught in Germany during the inter-war period and, after 1933, in Britain, is generally regarded as the founder of the sociology of knowledge. For anthropologists (and historians) his concept of ‘generations', formulated in 1928, has become influential because it allows to connect individual biographies and life stories to the wider context of society and history. Mannheim's innovation lies in departing from a biological as well as genealogical understanding of naturally succeeding generations, and suggesting instead that generations crystallize around the distinctive historical experiences of a particular age cohort. They are neither classes nor communities, but rather social ‘locations' characterized by their members' ‘participation in the common destiny' of a particular ‘historical and social unit'(1952: 303). This salon offers an opportunity to examine the continued usefulness of Mannheim's concept, beyond its obvious focus on modern male elites in national politics, and explore its theoretical potential in the study of biographies and collective experiences in a transnationally interconnected world.

Ruth Benedict Salon

Date: Saturday November 17 
Time: 9am-10:20am
Chairs: Carol Greenhouse (Princeton University) and Judy Rosenthal (University of Michigan - Flint)

Ruth Benedict's "Patterns of Culture" is perhaps best known for its three "ethnological" chapters in the middle of the book, on Zuni, Dobu and Kwakiutl.  The envelope around these chapters may be less remarked upon nowadays, but it contains many riches – Benedict's formulation of a "science of custom," her articulation of a principle of relativity predicated on the notion of culture as creative process and aesthetic form, and the outlines of a critical reflexive ethnography of the United States.  This salon draws on the first and last chapters of Patterns so as to explore these (and other) strands of her work, and to reflect on the alternative history of anthropology that might result from a fresh reading of "Patterns of Culture".  

Epigenetics: the Prequel


Date: Saturday November 17 
Time: 9:00am - 10:20 am
Chairs: Rayna Rapp and Augustin Fuentes

In a post-genomics era (at least in parts of the developed world), there's an exciting swing-of-the-pendulum back toward consideration of environmental structures and process as shapers of genetic/ genomic phenotypes within the life sciences.  This return toward a recognition of a mutual mutability between organisms and their environments bridges the concerns of biological and cultural anthropologists, especially in the realm of medical anthropology/ environmental disease.  Our salon looks back to the future, placing current concern with epigenetics into historical perspective through a discussion of the work of CH Waddington, an eminent British geneticist, who identified the problematic , and dynamic, relation between genotype and phenotype as an important site of developmental theory/ practice as early as 1942.  Reconsidering ancestral roots/routes may strengthen our collective understandings of how humans exist in an inseparable environment of natureculture.--

Emma Goldman Salon

Date: Saturday November 17 
Time: 9:00am-10:20 am
Chairs: Ida Susser, Christine Gailey, Kate Griffiths, Estefania Ponti,  Lauren Suchman

The anarchist Emma Goldman, in her political speeches, as well as in her personal efforts to live "free love",  formulated and embodied the concept of "the personal is political" taken up by feminists in the 1970s although less discussed today.  The claim is that relations in the family or in sexual partnerships are defined by the politics of gender and inequality and have to be understood and possibly resisted beyond the intimate negotiations that they involve.    In Red Emma Speaks, we find discussions of the constraints of morality and the contestations among women in their understanding of freedom. Goldman criticizes the simple battle for economic equality and raises questions of  the moral constraints that the US feminists have placed upon themselves.  Extremely cognizant of issues of class and working class women still relevant today,  Goldman discusses what she sees as the false issue of "the traffic in women" which drives a barrier between sex workers and more "respectable" married women and raises fascinating and contemporary issues about the fundamentalist moralities  unique to US politics. In U.S. anthropology, as women have, in fact, achieved enormous changes in the public sphere, the ideas of feminism and the personal is political have given way to cultural interpretations of gender, orientation and performance. Sexuality in terms of freedom of orientation and the "right to marry", in distinction from the 19th century ideas of "free love" outside marriage, have become  central tenets of organization.  Nevertheless, just as women have won many victories in this area, the reproductive choices and health of women in the US, and specifically poor and minority women, have been increasingly under assault from a threatening fundamentalist movement.  Is there still salience in the concept of feminism, or feminisms, which recognize multiple and differing forms of oppression among poor women and in the Global South, as a voice for personal liberation parallel to political freedom? Or, has the notion of feminism as a universal political project, possibly co-opted by imperialism, passed its historical moment in the global North? To bring the subject close to home, even today in the U.S., women anthropologists, both adjuncts and full time faculty, are still fighting for rights for maternity leave as well as other forms of recognition.  As we see in the contestations of the fundamentalist Right, as well as in the international and national battles over women's place and sexuality which have brought down political leaders in the U.S.  and elsewhere, certainly, the issues of love and power are still explosive and perhaps still central to democratic freedoms.

Llewellyn Salon

Date: Saturday November 17 
Time: 2:00pm-3:20pm
Chairs: Bill Maurer (UC Irvine) and Susan Coutin (UC Irvine)

Karl Llewellyn (1893-1962) was a law professor whose collaboration with anthropologist E. Adamson Hoebel led to the publication of The Cheyenne Way, an ethnography that helped to establish the centrality of the "trouble case" method within the anthropology of law and of disputing.  Considered one of the founders of the jurisprudential school of legal realism and a harsh critic of the formalist approach to legal analysis that Harvard law school dean Christopher Columbus Langdell established as the hallmark of legal education in the United States, Llewellyn argued that understanding "real" law required examining what courts do rather than studying abstract legal doctrine.  Llewellyn's attention to the "craft" of law infused the Uniform Commercial Code, which Llewellyn helped to draft.  This salon examines the connections between pragmatism and realism in order to consider legacies of the realist moment for ethnographic practice.

Franz Boas vs. The Establishment: Museum Methods at the Dawn of American Anthropology

Date: Saturday November 17 
Time: 4:30 pm-5:50 pm
Chairs:  Fred Myers (New York University) and Aaron Glass (Bard Graduate Center)

Only a year after his initial visit to the Northwest Coast in 1886, upstart ethnographer Franz Boas took on America's anthropology and museum establishment in a series of exchanges with the Smithsonian's Otis Mason in the pages of Science. He proposed a radical new way of organizing ethnology collections and displays, and thereby of approaching cultural description and analysis. In 1896, just as Boas took up a curatorial position at the American Museum of Natural History, he returned to Science with a seminal article, "The Limitations of the Comparative Method," which summarized the theoretical lessons of his first decade of fieldwork. These two publications encapsulate Boas's nascent—and lasting—approach to anthropology in terms of his promotion of the inductive method, his interest in histories of diffusion, his critique of Victorian evolutionary theory, and his articulation of cultural relativism. This salon examines how Boas's early work in the context of museums influenced his vision for the larger field and its distinctive methods, even as it foreshadowed his (and the young field's) disillusionment with the museum as the proper locus for academic anthropology.


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