The 112th Annual Meeting in Chicago offers ample opportunity to showcase the anthropology of work. Over the course of eleven sessions, anthropologists and their colleagues will pull together news fresh from the field, and reflect deeply on how work organizes and is organized by social realities. The annual meeting is an opportunity for anthropologists of work to meet, exchange ideas and help maintain work as a critical analytical construct within the discipline. The SAW Board will meet on Saturday at 12:15, under the leadership of President Samuel Collins. Please come to the open Business meeting, Saturday evening from 6:15 to 7:30 to discuss future directions. The Eric Wolf Prize and the Diana Forsythe Prize winners will be acknowledged at this meeting. Student anthropologists are particularly welcome.
We have three invited sessions. On Wednesday, November 20, a session on “Entrepreneurial Futures: Practice, Imagination, and Personhood,” organized by Serena Stein and Leslie Broudo-Mitts, explores social and technological entrepreneurship as a distinctive form of work. On Thursday, November 21, David Griffith’s session (cosponsored by Culture and Agriculture) “Republics of Labor: Contemporary Guestworkers as Future Publics” focuses on a rural survey of the agricultural guestworker experience in Canada and the United States. The changing global political economy of food links immigration and labor within the larger North American sphere. The third invited session is cosponsored with the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology, and blends the work of anthropology and the anthropology of work. This session, on Friday morning, November 22, “Interdisciplinary Engagement: Advancing Anthropology in Industrial and Organizational Contexts,” looks closely at work and ethnographic usability studies in settings including health and global business.
In addition to invited sessions, we are sponsoring eight other sessions. On Wednesday, November 20, new forms of work are discussed in “Work in the 21st century: The Duality of Labor Organization and Workplace Flexibility,” organized by Jacob Lesniewski and Lauren S Bae. On Thursday, November 21, Norwegian researchers from Telemark Research Institute and the University of Oslo join together to discuss Nordic labor policy in the session, “Reconceptualizing the Labor Market.” While the importance of networking in work has long been a central anthropological focus, friendship is an underexplored area of research. On Friday, November 22, SAW will sponsor the session “Work and Friendship: Practices of Labor, Sites of Intimacy, and the Anthropology of Friendship in Contemporary Workspaces.” Musicians, professionals and care workers rely on friends to do their work and build their lives. On the same day, Nellie Chu and Elizabeth L Krause have organized a session that examines kinship and labor (especially within the global garment industry) in “Along the Crossroads of Flexible Kin and Flexible Labor: Globalizing Women Workers’ Emergent Collectives.”
On Saturday, our AAA host city is highlighted in the session, “The Legacy of the Chicago School: Doing Fieldwork in Occupational Settings,” organized by Isabelle Valerie Zinn and Marc Perrenoud. The Chicago School legacy of urban anthropology is put into the foreground as ethnographers illuminate the social life of gyms, mobile workplaces, musical venues, and scientific laboratories. Carrie Lane is the discussant. The world of gaming and digital work is the focus of Mary Gray’s session, “Producing Digital Publics from Gaming to Crowdsourcing.” Volunteer work, work-as-play, and digitally monitored work are the focus of this Saturday, November 23, session. A Sunday morning session tackles work skills as diverse as motorcycle tinkering, producing a luau and herding reindeer. These tasks sustain cultural heritage and are part of an emerging and reinvented craft work. The session, “Recreating Heritage Work, the Future of Craft,” consider how the chores of daily life have been transformed into cultural statements. The articulation of identity and work-seeking is considered in the last Sunday morning session, “Finding Work, Reshaping Identities,” which includes discussion of Pentecostals, Veterans, Bhutanese-Nepali refugees, Latinos, and members of other identity groups. Together, these ten sessions help redefine the way communities engage with each other, and redefine that most public, yet cloistered space, the workplace.
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