The 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association will soon convene in San José, California. Addressing the conference theme, “Resistance, Resilience,and Adaptation,” the Association for the Anthropology of Policy (ASAP) is sponsoring 14 panels that reflect both human responses to, and the broader social, political, and economic implications of, policy processes in the neoliberal era.
Earlier this year, Kristina Hook examined the emergent relationship between “big data” and policy process, highlighting the ways that predictive analytics are being applied to issues ranging from warfare to genocide prevention. Here, I complement Hook’s examination of an area for future anthropological focus in order to look back on the ways that the anthropological analysis of policy presaged current areas of research in the discipline.
Future prognostications tend to baffle each successive generation, as familiar technologies and approaches branch off in surprising directions. Predicting the future of anthropological policy studies, including its makings, workings, contexts, agents, and effects, is thus akin to tracing an individual wave during a tsunami.