The National Association of Student Anthropologists (NASA) is the official student section of the AAA and the largest organization of student anthropologists in the world. It got its start when Roland Foulkes—then a graduate student at UC Berkeley—wrote a “Call for a National Association of Student Anthropologists” in the April 1985 issue of the Anthropology Newsletter. NASA was founded by students in 1985 to serve the interests of graduate and undergraduate anthropology students by providing a communication network through which to exchange information and to sponsor scholarly activities on a national and international level.
In order to advocate for anthropologists-in-training, NASA runs various programs that promote student attendance and participation at the AAA Annual Meeting, encourage student-faculty mentorship, and publish student scholarly material. We are one of the largest AAA sections, and as such we do our best to provide networking tools for students and disseminate pertinent information via our social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter), website, and listserv. As NASA is student-led, all members are able to run for one of the NASA officer positions. Serving as an officer gives students insights into the workings of the AAA and also provides opportunities to strengthen leadership and organizing skills.
Much of NASA’s direct involvement with students happens at the AAA Annual Meeting. We host or co-host several student workshops and panels each year, as well as an open forum business meeting where we hear student concerns and field questions. In the past, we have sponsored events such as a student publishing workshop and a peer mentoring workshop. NASA also serves as a reviewing section for panels, individually-submitted papers, and posters, which gives students the opportunity to attend and present their work at a national conference.
Because conferences can be expensive and students do not often have the means to pay for travel and accommodations, NASA also offers two modest scholarships that help to offset the cost of attending the Annual Meeting. The first is our Carrie Hunter-Tate Award, named to honor the memory of the former NASA officer who passed away suddenly in 1995. Carrie energetically devoted her time and talents to NASA while in office, and this award is granted to students who demonstrate a similar enthusiasm for service to the profession. The second award is part of the Emerging Leaders in Anthropology Program (ELAP), in which selected students receive a travel grant and are paired with a mentor from a co-sponsoring AAA section. With their mentors, program participants receive training in contemporary issues in anthropology and work toward producing a professional research training paper with the option to have it published in our e-journal.
NASA publishes a column on the Anthropology News website to showcase section activities, student work, and writing. Student Anthropologist, NASA’s peer-review journal, offers an excellent opportunity for students to publish original research and book reviews. Recently our Student Anthropologist editor Dick Powis was able to obtain an ISSN for the journal—a very exciting opportunity to bolster the publication’s reach and legitimacy. Finally, NASA has published a Guide to Anthropology Clubs that lends helpful and practical advice to students wanting to get anthropology clubs off the ground at their home institutions or to those seeking to strengthen already-existing clubs.
Through these and other exciting opportunities, NASA strives to make the liminal space of being an anthropologist-in-training a more guided and positive experience. We help guide future anthropologists by facilitating mentorship, creating safe spaces for inquiries, providing networking tools, and reaching out to students navigating the unique world that is anthropology.
Belinda C. Ramírez is a PhD student at the University of California, San Diego and has served as one of NASA’s undergraduate student representatives-at-large since 2013.
Cite as: Ramírez, Belinda C. 2017. “Advocating for Anthropologists-In-Training Since 1985.” Anthropology News website, August 4, 2017. doi: 10.1111/AN.558