Notes from the Section Leadership

ASAP in review and prospect

The Association for the Anthropology of Policy (ASAP) was formed in 2014. At the last count, we have over 350 members and are classed as a medium-sized section by the AAA. Our finances remain strong, and we have a healthy surplus that we will put to good use in widening ASAP’s activities and, in particular, supporting graduate students, early career scholars, and attracting those outside academia and those working in disciplines in dialogue with the anthropology of policy to come to the AAA Annual Meeting.

In the 2018 Annual Meeting in San José, despite attendance affected by the pollution as a result of the terrible forest fires raging across the region, we continued to have a strong presence in terms of ASAP-sponsored panels. We held a total of 12 sessions, including a double session, States of Exception, organized by Cansu Civelek and Cris Shore. Two of the panels (Hope and Resilience and on Knowledge, Power and Governance) were put together from individual paper proposals submitted to ASAP by conference attendees. In addition to the double panel mentioned above, four panels were submitted to ASAP on a wide range of topics including: Unrecognized States; Maps and Mapmaking; The Affective and Moral Worlds of Policy Actors; and Authoritarian Neoliberalism. Again, this year, we were able to maximize the number of panels by partnering with other AAA sections including: Society for the Anthropology of Europe (co-hosting panels  Legacies of Conflict in Crisis and on the Intersection of Gender, Sexuality and Race in Anti-Immigrant and Anti-Gender movements in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union); Central States Anthropological Society (Digital Infrastructures); and the Association for Africanist Anthropology (Imagining Africa).    

In the future, we will continue to expand the activities of ASAP and use every opportunity to reflect on the state of the art of the anthropology of policy, some twenty years after it emerged as a branch of the discipline through the pioneering edited collection by Chris Shore and Susan Wright.
Mentoring was another important part of our activities in 2018. We continued with our annual mentoring workshop, which allowed for a lively discussion between younger anthropologists, those new to the anthropology of policy, and long-standing ASAP members. We also held a mentoring and discussion session on academic precarity in co-operation with the Council on Anthropology and Education that was well attended and included excellent presentations on options outside academia for anthropologists by Shirley Fiske and Karen Kelsky. The session, chaired by Cris Shore, was designed to provide a hands-on approach to anthropologists who find themselves in positions of academic precarity and to graduate students who face a restricted job market marked by the growth of contingent labor. For these sessions, we are especially indebted to Cansu Civelek and Jennifer Hubbert.

In 2016, an ASAP graduate student paper prize was initiated, and the first award presented at the Minneapolis Annual Meeting. In addition to recognizing the high quality of current student work, this is a good mechanism for introducing graduate students to the peer review process. In 2018, the winner was Rachel Silver for her paper “Nothing but Time: Readmission Policy and State/NGO Funder Relations in Malawi.” A shortened version of the winning paper will be published shortly as as ASAP Anthropology News column. This year we also awarded an honorable mention paper to Janepicha Cheva-Isarakul (PhD candidate, University of Wellington – Victoria) for her paper: “Diagnosing’ Statelessness and Everyday State (il)Legibility.”

As always, we are indebted to Ted Powers for managing our column contributions to Anthropology News, and we thank Judi Pajo for her work on this in the past. Georgia Hartman, as communications director, is now responsible for our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter profiles. Our website remains the collecting point for information from and about ASAP, including the “ASAP Forum” which is a repository for all Anthropology News columns.

We would also like to note the Stanford University Press Anthropology of Policy book series, the editors and board for which are mostly active ASAP members. The newest volume in the series, Gregory Feldman’s The Grey Zone, was published in December 2018.

In the future, we will continue to expand the activities of ASAP and use every opportunity to reflect on the state of the art of the anthropology of policy, some twenty years after it emerged as a branch of the discipline through the pioneering edited collection by Chris Shore and Susan Wright. The Education Committee continues to be active and is working hard at updating a bibliography and model curricula on the topic. We want to continue to work outside North America, not least through having a presence in global anthropological conferences including the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, meeting in Poland in 2019. 

William Beeman, co-president elect, will be managing our program for the AAA meeting in Vancouver, BC. The list of potential sessions discussed at the AAA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, BC, is long and interesting. We will be issuing calls for papers and information about the meeting through our regular media, but feel free to contact William if you have thoughts or questions: [email protected]

Carol A. MacLennan is professor of anthropology at Michigan Technological University and author of Sovereign Sugar: Industry and Environment in Hawai`i

Paul Stubbs is a senior research fellow in the Institute of Economics at University of Zagreb and co-author of Making Policy Move: Towards a Politics of Transnational Assemblage.

If you would like to contribute to this column, please contact the contributing editor Theodore Powers at [email protected]

Cite as: MacClennan, Carol, and Paul Stubbs. 2019. “Notes from the Section Leadership.” Anthropology News website, March 5, 2019. DOI: 10.1111/AN.1110

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