What does it mean to be an educational anthropologist in these times? That was one of the questions posed by the Council on Anthropology and Education’s (CAE) Mission Committee at its Town Hall meeting at the 2017 American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. The Town Hall was one of many venues at the Meeting where educational anthropologists had the opportunity to come together to reflect on the CAE mission, our work as educational anthropologists, and some of the challenges we face—particularly in today’s political climate. These special CAE events also opened up spaces for dialogue regarding how we can use our unique skills to advance racial and social justice in what Norma González, in her acceptance speech for the George and Louise Spindler Award, rightly calls a “fragile moment.”
One of the many highlights of the CAE Program at the 2017 AAA Annual Meeting was Marta Baltodano’s Presidential Address. In it, she reflected on the history of the CAE as well as the impetus of its mission statement. She recounted talks of former CAE presidents and the accomplishments of many CAE members. In focusing on the CAE mission, and in reference to last year’s CAE Presidential Address, she stated that we are anthropologists, educationists, and activists and that “We cannot separate any of these components from our identity as CAE members.” We are engaged scholars who, in times like these “find comfort in our advocacy identity” and “warmth and camaraderie [from] our fellow colleagues embedded in our undisputed quest for a more just world.” Moreover, Marta Baltodano reminded us to be mindful of our commitment to each other. In that regard she mentioned the numerous mentoring events that were taking place at the 2017 AAA Meeting, including the Presidential Fellows reception where this year’s CAE Presidential Fellows met as a group with their mentors. We are one of the strongest sections in AAA in regard to mentoring, collaboration, and community engagement.
The 2017 Annual Meeting was also a time for celebration. Past president Norma González received the 2017 George and Louise Spindler Award, given in recognition of her outstanding and ongoing contributions to the field of educational anthropology. In her acceptance speech, she spoke about the CAE mission statement, which she believes “was crafted for such a time as this.” She also spoke about the role she sees educational anthropologists being able to play in not only “uncover[ing] oppressions, but … heal[ing] them,” as well. She reminded us that at times like these, listening and “person to person dialogue in a true ethnographic encounter” are powerful parts of the healing process. In the conclusion to her talk, Norma González made moving reference to the counsel of two of our elders who have passed on, which she believes can help sustain us in this moment. One elder is Rosalie Little Thunder, a Sicangu Lakota of the Little Thunder Tiospaye; the other is Richard Ruiz, whose scholarship continues to inform new generations of scholars. Without a doubt, Norma Gonzalez’s own scholarship inspires and will continue to inspire anthropologists of education for decades to come.
To further celebrate the work of CAE members, the CAE Board of Directors approved two new awards at its board meeting held during the AAA Meeting. One is the new CAE Outstanding Book Award. This award is for books that have made a significant contribution to the anthropology of education within the two years prior to the award. The other is an annual $300 travel award that is a result of a collaboration between the CAE and the Studies in Educational Ethnography (SEE) Emerald Publishing book series. The award will be given to a scholar whose paper has been accepted for presentation at the Annual Meeting. If the awardee is a junior scholar she or he will be paired with a senior scholar or a member of the SEE Editorial Advisory Board for feedback and publication guidance.
There were many other CAE events at the 2017 Annual Meeting in addition to those already mentioned. Looking ahead to the coming year, CAE contributing editors to Anthropology News Cathy Amanti and Patricia D. López, hope to keep the dialogue around our mission and our identity moving forward through our section news column. We invite articles, photo essays, videos, cartoons, and other forms of creative writing that address the CAE’s 2018 theme “Living the CAE mission.” Articles can be up to 1,400 words in length. Please send us your ideas (see contact information below). Let us know if your submission will be in a digital format so that we can ensure it is compatible with the Anthropology News website.
In closing, we would like to take this opportunity to thank our 2017 columnists Kari Chew, Vanessa Anthony-Stevens, Ted Hamann, the Kharij Collective, Nelson Flores, Jonathan Rosa, and KiMi Wilson. The article by Nelson Flores and Jonathan Rosa, “Political Correctness Is Not the Problem, Systemic Racism Is,” was one of the most-read Anthropology News section news articles in 2017. Going forward we hope to continue using this platform to connect with others, share the work of the CAE, and advance our mission of promoting “racial and social justice in all settings where learning takes place.”
Cathy Amanti is clinical assistant professor in the Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education at Georgia State University and is a CAE board member.
Patricia D. López is an assistant professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at San José State University and CAE board member. @xicanasoul
Cite as: Amanti, Cathy, and Patricia D. López. 2018. “Living the Council on Anthropology and Education Mission.” Anthropology News website, February 16, 2018. DOI: 10.1111/AN.763