This year marks the 25th anniversary of the AFA being instated as a formal section of the American Anthropological Association. To celebrate this important milestone at the AAA meeting in Chicago, the AFA presents a diverse and powerful array of sessions that mark the importance of feminism as a political and theoretical force within anthropology.
For feminist anthropologists this anniversary is a time to remember the contributions of foremothers, take note of the contemporary efforts in research and activism, and assess the hope and direction of feminist anthropological research in times to come. The panels reflect this spirit, which dovetails with this year’s AAA theme “Future Publics, Current Engagements.” Check the online program for details on final times and locations.
AFA President-Elect Ellen Lewin and Leni Silverstein have organized a sweeping pair of panels entitled “Anthropologies And Feminisms: Our History, Our Present, Our Past.” Session I is part of the AAA Executive program and Session II is an invited AFA panel. Jessica A Johnson, Omotayo T Jolaosho, and Debarati Sen have organized “The Awkward Relationship Revisited,” a re-examination of Marilyn Strathern’s assessment of the “awkward relationship” between anthropology and feminism and its effects on feminist research across continents. Finally, “Twenty-Five Years Of Women’s Grassroots Activism: Are We Any Closer To Empowerment?”, co-sponsored by AFA and SANA and organized by Ann Bookman and Sandra L Morgen, takes stock of advances in and research about empowerment.
As AFA program chairs this year, we felt the need to highlight workshops and sessions that address how feminist anthropologists could showcase the significance of feminist anthropology for the new generation—in the classroom and in virtual space. In that spirit, our program offers events on media, teaching, and activism. Two AFA sessions will offer advice and expertise concerning how electronic resources and social media can be marshaled to bolster feminist anthropological goals. Isabelle LeBlanc and Jose L Santos are offering the “Workshop on Teaching Gender and Sexuality III: Social Media and Teaching Feminist Activism,” with a fee of $25. Bryce Peake will lead an instructive session on “Writing Women and Feminist Anthropology into Wikipedia,” in which attendees will be given practical information about effective feminist anthropological interventions on this popular website.
Four panels this year focus explicitly on the dilemmas of feminist ethnography and the complications of knowledge production in contemporary times: Chelsea Blackmore’s organized roundtable, “Decolonizing Feminist Anthropology—Where We Are and Where Do We Need to Go?”; Mahri Irvine’s panel “Feminisms In The Field”; Amanda J Reinke’s panel “On The Border: Critical Perspectives On Feminist Ethnography & Interdiscipliarity”; and Susan C Dewey and Tiantian Zheng’s panel “Activism, Collaboration, and Engagement with Social Issues With an Anthropological Perspective.”
Sarah J Mahler and Nina Glick Schiller’s organized roundtable “Bringing Gender from the Periphery to the Core of Migration Studies: Honoring Patricia R Pessar” highlights the significance of feminist ethnographic work on migration studies. Jennifer Joy Fiers’s panel “Playing with Gender in Sport and Dance Cultures” reflects on feminist ethnographic work in contemporary performance arenas like dance and sports. Christa C Craven and Dana-Ain Davis have organized a session on “Feminist Activist Ethnography” in a new author-meets-critics format.
Other panels focus on the nuances of social reproduction from a feminist ethnographic perspective with some panels highlighting health issues in such discussions in the US and beyond: Melanie Angel Medeiros’ panel “Towards an Anthropology of Divorce”; Angela N Castañeda’s panel “Contested Birthings: Institutional and Community Politics of Reproduction in the United States”; Coleen Carrigan’s panel “Reorienting Survival: Cross-cultural Perspectives on Women’s Wellbeing; Andrea Wright’s panel “Contested Modernities and Social Reproduction in Contemporary South and South East Asia”; and Vanessa L Fong’s panel, “Son Preference, Daughter Preference, and Changing Gender Roles.”
Panels this year also highlight feminist ethnographic work on state violence, gendered citizenship and the politics of care: Cecilia Sardenberg’s panel “Protective States: Ethnographies of Violence and Outreach in North and South America”; Patricia Tovar’s panel “Gender Citizenships and Agencies: Politicizing Memory, Contesting Tradition and Reinventing Identity”; Dawn Pankonien’s panel “Defining Labor, Value and Morality Across Borders: Human Trafficking, Migrant Labor, Care Work and Sex Work”; Sarah Luna and Emily Wentzel’s panel “Sex, Drugs and Social Theory.”
All anniversaries are marked with planning for the future and most importantly celebrations. Please join us for birthday cake at the AFA Business Meeting and celebrate at the joint AFA-ABA-ALLA-AQA-SANA-SAW-SLACA-SUNTA reception, which includes a light buffet and cash bar. Please come to celebrate AFA’s 25th and mingle with AAA colleagues beyond AFA.
Jennifer Patico (AFA Program Chair, 2012-2013) is associate professor of anthropology, Georgia State University and Debarati Sen (Program Chair 2013-2014) is assistant professor of international conflict management and anthropology, Kennesaw State University.