Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pulse of the Planet #3

Melissa Checker's "Carbon Offsets: More Harm Than Good?" is the next installment of CounterPunch's "Pulse of the Planet" series. The series is derived from conference papers delivered at the "Pulse of the Planet" panel during AAA's 2008 annual meeting. In her op-ed, Checker describes the flaws of the carbon offset industry, ranging from its funding to implementation. She also suggests a number of alternatives: changing consumptive behavior, improving government regulation and policing of industrial emissions, preparing vulnerable populations for climate change, and using renewable energy and "green" goods and services.

Prior Pulse of the Planet Articles:
"The Human Right to Eat" ~ Joan P. Mencher
"Dam Legacies, Damned Futures" ~ Barbara Rose Johnston

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Six Research Positions Open in Portugal

The Center for Social Studies at the University of Coimbra, Portugal is offering six research positions for those holding a PhD in the social and human sciences for over three years. The positions aim to develop the following research areas:

1) Architecture and urbanism
2) Cities and urban cultures
3) Citizenship and social policies
4) Migration studies
5) Labor relations, social inequalities and trade unionism
6) Peace studies
7) Cultural and religious diversity in Southern Europe

The application deadline is Sept. 30, 2008. For more information, please click here [pdf].

Race & Medicine

Alan Goodman, former AAA President and professor of biological anthropology at Hampshire College, was featured in Newsweek's Lab Notes blog last week. The blog post emphasizes the ways that race influences medical practice and treatment, and the implications this can have for a patient's health.

Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness

Savage Minds linked to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer featuring UPenn anthropologist John L. Jackson Jr. He describes his first non-academic book, Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness, and how racial fears underlie many of our everyday (inter)actions.

It is refreshing to see Jackson and several other anthropologists stepping into the public sphere. For more of Jackson, visit his AnthroMan blog and the Chronicle's Brainstorm blog.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Annual Meeting Registration

Registration is now open for AAA's 2008 Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California. The meetings will be held from Wednesday, November 19 until Sunday, November 23 at the San Francisco Hilton and Towers. Click here for additional information and to register. A preliminary program(pdf) is also available for download.

Call for Abstracts: Suburban Diversity

The National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University is hosting a conference on the phenomenon of suburban diversity. They have issued a call for abstracts, which should be submitted prior to Jan. 31, 2009.

Topics might include, but are not limited to:
* Racial and ethnic suburban enclaves, past and present
* International migration to the suburbs
* White supremacy, structural/institutional racism, and white privilege in the suburbs
* Changing patterns of suburban class segregation
* Environmental justice movements in the suburbs
* Women's leadership in suburban social movements
* New forms of suburban social and political organization
* Affordable housing and suburban gentrification
* Inequality and suburban schools
* Control of public space and a 'right to the suburb'
* Age and inclusion in the suburbs
* Sexuality, queer identity, and suburban politics
* Representations of diverse suburbs in the visual and performing arts
* International/comparative analyses of suburban diversity
* New suburban populations and suburban religious life

Click here for additional details.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ethics Casebook - Call for Abstracts

The Ad Hoc Commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with the US Security and Intelligence Communities (CEAUSSIC) has issued a call for abstracts. Please go here for a sample abstract or here for a sample narrative. An online submission portal is forthcoming.

CEAUSSIC is asking our colleagues in anthropology and related disciplines for summaries of illustrative cases that explore intersections among the ethical, methodological, and theoretical aspects of work in, around, and for the national security state, including public and private institutions, in and outside academia. We seek narrative cases from all of anthropology’s fields, including archaeology, biological/physical anthropology, ethnology, and linguistic anthropology; from emerging and established areas of practice and research within these fields.

Process. The casebook submission process will occur in two phases: submission of a short summary abstract for CEAUSSIC review, due by December 31, 2008; followed by submission of a longer case narrative for selected cases, due by May 15, 2009. A more detailed timetable is included below.

In the first round of submissions, CEAUSSIC will review abstracts and select a subset that meets the following criteria:

1. The potential for exploring complex and emerging intersections among methodology, practice, ethics, and theory in anthropology, across all fields and forms of practice;

2. The case’s relevance to present-day issues in anthropology’s intersection with national security problems, across all four fields of the discipline and all forms of practice;

3. The potential for provoking educational and productive debate and discussion among anthropologists;

4. The potential for provoking debate about social science research ethics in a wider community beyond anthropology, including other disciplines and institutions;

5. The quality of the narrative, as demonstrated in a well-written abstract

Content. Case abstracts should briefly describe the context, the individuals and institutions involved, type of activity, the time period during which the situation is occurring or took place, and the ethical problems, themes, and issues that the case raises. Rather than offering opinions, solutions, or analysis, we would like a descriptive narrative that richly evokes the context and complexities of a moment of engagement in which moral, political, methodological, and/or ethical issues become salient.

We strongly encourage our colleagues to submit cases referring to real-life situations encountered in the course of work, but we are willing to consider realistic hypothetical cases that raise provocative questions about ethics, politics, morality, theory and methods, and that have practical implications for anthropologists engaged in all forms of practice, across all fields of the discipline. Cases do not have to originate in national security problems, but should have some relevance to current debates about anthropological ethics and practice vis-à-vis public and private institutions of power, including national security institutions. Cases that bring an international perspective to these problems are encouraged, particularly from anthropologists outside the United States. Cases that originate outside anthropology are welcome as well, as long as they provoke issues that are relevant to current anthropological discussions and debates.

Please note that CEAUSSIC is primarily a review and research panel and does not engage in ethics investigations. Therefore, this is not a place to raise specific allegations of misconduct or to accuse other researchers of illegal or unethical behavior. Allegations of significant ethics violations should be raised with your home institution, funding agencies, and/or AAA leadership, as you feel appropriate.

Format. Each preliminary submission should include the case title, the author’s name and contact information, and a 200-250 word abstract that summarizes the key points of the case, and explicitly states how the case pertains to questions of anthropological ethics. An example of a preliminary submission is included at the end of this call.

CEAUSSIC will contact authors whose case abstracts meet the initial criteria, and ask them to provide a longer submission for panel discussion and eventual publication in the casebook. If your abstract is chosen for further consideration, we will ask you to submit a more elaborated case narrative of between 1500 and 3000 words in length. A sample second-round narrative is attached at the end of this call.

Submission process. You may submit your case abstract electronically by emailing it to . Alternatively, you may mail a paper copy of your abstract to the following address:

ATTN: Dr. Robert Albro
School of International Service
American University
4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016

Privacy and Confidentiality. CEAUSSIC is extremely concerned about maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of all individuals involved in the cases. As they are being reviewed, all cases will be held in strictest confidence for consideration and discussion of CEAUSSIC and its guests only. However, we ask that you indicate if the story is hypothetical or fictional (or some combination thereof), and indicate where you have used real names, events and places in your story, so that we can take appropriate safeguards to maintain confidentiality and anonymity. We also ask that you also respect the confidentiality and anonymity of your colleagues and informants: for example, please not disclose sensitive information unless such information is germane to your case. If your case is selected for publication, CEAUSSIC will contact you to anonymize any identifying elements in the story, to protect privacy and confidentiality of the individuals and institutions involved in the event.

Review. CEAUSSIC will select a subset of the case submissions for discussion and review. Cases will be chosen for quality of their narrative, the case’s relevance to present-day issues in anthropological research and practice, and the complexity and nuance of the ethical issues that the case raises. CEAUSSIC will recruit appropriate subfield representatives and a professional research ethicist to assist in the review of the cases. The selected cases will be annotated with a set of discussion questions and a summary of the review committee’s comments; these annotated cases will provide the basis for a final casebook manuscript.

Important Dates.

  • Case abstracts final submission due to CEAUSSIC by 31 December 2008.
  • We will review all submissions, select the discussion cases, and notify authors of the status of their case submission by 15 February 2009.
  • The full case review will take place during May 2009.
  • Once the review is complete, we will select and post a subset of these cases on the CEAUSSSIC website. In addition, CEAUSSIC will maintain updates on its AAA webpage as the project progresses.
  • We expect to have a final manuscript for publication submission by December 2009.
Contact. Question and concerns may be directed to the Ad Hoc Commission's Chair, Dr. Rob Albro, at or (202)885-1546.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Minerva - NSF/DoD Joint Solicitation

NSF recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the DoD, allowing collaboration between the two agencies, and has just announced a joint solicitation for proposals in the tune of $8 million. The stated goals of the program are “1) to develop the DoD’s social and human science intellectual capital in order to enhance its ability to address future challenges; 2) to enhance the DoD’s engagement with the social science community; and 3) to deepen the understanding of the social and behavioral dimensions of national security issues.”

Although we are pleased with NSF's involvement in Minerva, additional clarification is needed about the extent of DoD's role in the selection and review process. AAA is also concerned that only a portion of Minerva funding is being routed through NSF.

Share your thoughts on Minerva in our comment section below.


AAA letter regarding Minerva [pdf]

"Military's Social Science Grants Raise Alarm" ~ Washington Post

"When Professors Go to War" ~ Hugh Gusterson

"Pentagon Shift on 'Minerva'" ~ Inside Higher Ed

"Anthropology Association Urges Government to Tread Cautiously With 'Minerva' Project" ~ The Chronicle of Higher Education

"Academics Target Pentagon's Social Science Project" ~ Wired's Danger Room,

"AAA Issues Statement on Minerva" ~ Savage Minds

DoD Defense Bloggers Roundtable Regarding Minerva [pdf]