The Twitter feed on #AAA2011 is the place to get that “in the moment” sense of what happened at the annual American Anthropological Association meeting. But here is a round up of the different stuff that I could find this morning, two days after the AAA meeting in Montreal ended
Update: As Jason Antrosio points out in the comments, the top vs. all categorization by Twitter can lead to different looking feeds. The one above is the “top tweet” feed. Here is the “all” feed on #AAA2011.
The Science Controversy
There was an entire session on Science in Anthropology, a line-up of distinguished panelists to discuss last year’s controversy over the dropping of the word “science” from the AAA’s long range plan. Find the Twitter stream on the #aaasci session here, a recap put together by Caroline VanSickle.
Update: Find the unedited version of #aaasci, with all the tweets, here.
Dan Berrett, Chronicle of Higher Education, Anthropologists Seek a More Nuanced Place for Science
-This piece gets right to the point, and uses a love/hate example to highlight some of the debate over science in anthropology
Scott Jaschik, Not Feeling the Kinship
-This article gives more of a blow-by-blow coverage of what was said at the panel
Adam Van Arsdale, Van Arsdale Biological Anthropology Lab, Science and the Ring Species of Anthropology
The response I got from people who were at the event was one of frustration… From those who were at the event, it seems the frustration was the result of little progress in the arguments, with the various speakers largely talking to different points on the issue and at times, seemingly undermining the significance of the event altogether.
Jason Antrosio, Living Anthropologically, Science in Anthropology: Humanistic science and scientific humanism
H. Russell Bernard advocated a return of a “big-tent” anthropology: “We should be the humanistic science and the scientific humanism that Eric Wolf described nearly 50 years ago.”
From my perspective, as Greg Downey tweeted in from Australia, there did seem to be a bit of victimology, with both those who claim scientific approaches and those who claim more interpretive approaches feeling marginalized.
However, at least from audience comments, it would seem those claiming scientific approaches point to marginalization, but then say their marginalization is greater–that while no one would shut down humanistic approaches in anthropology, people more actively shut down quantitative approaches.
I was there, and the session was a bit of a let-down for me. Not much substantive was done (plenty said!), and the AAA couldn’t even begin to say the word “#aaafail” and barely acknowledged mistakes made. And as perhaps the only person in the room who has been a member of the Society for Humanistic Anthropology, I did feel the urge at one point to stand up and defend humanistic approaches on their own terms.
Still, I took it as a moment of high
comment comedy when the hardened cultural anthropologist on the panel accused the scientists in the room of being overly-defensive (just get over it… yes, what a way to start a marriage counseling session) and demanded that they show actual evidence of this discrimination and exclusion they claim. Evidence! Data!
And then the touchy-feely scientists replied, But it really felt that way to us. I wish they had come back with the line, Can’t you just get my emic perspective? But that would have been hoping for too much.
Dan Berrett, Chronicle of Higher Education, Anthropologists Consider a New Code of Ethics
One of the most notable changes in the proposed new code was to remove what many anthropologists call the “prime directive.”
The previous code, which dates to 1998 (though incremental changes have been made since then), told anthropologists that they “have primary ethical obligations to the people, species, and materials they study and to the people with whom they work.”
By many accounts, that directive has meant that an anthropologist’s obligation to his or her research subject can eclipse the goal of acquiring new knowledge. In other words, if research goes against the interests of subjects, then that research ought to be stopped.
The newer version, which the association’s executive board accepted for review at this year’s meeting but did not formally adopt, is more nuanced. It explains that the primary ethical obligation is “to avoid doing harm to the lives, communities, or environments” that anthropologists study.
Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, Ethics Without ‘Thou Shall Not’
Even a principle like, “Do no harm,” which would remain an undercurrent of the proposed new code, is not always easy to apply, committee members said. Rather, they said, it begs the question of, “Harm to whom?” and ignores the possibility that research may involve multiple groups with very different interests and fears.
Dan Berrett, Chronicle of Higher Education, Psst: Don’t Tell Anyone, but Some Professors Like Teaching
Jason Baird Jackson, On Green OA and the Future of AAA Publishing at #AAA2011
Jason Antrosio, Living Anthropologically, The Tangled Bank: Old metaphors for new evolutionary understandings
Ryan Anderson, Savage Minds, AAA in Montreal: Open Thread
Alison Deplonty, Memories Bookshelf, AAA Summary
AAA Blog Coverage
Émilie Sarrazin, AAA Blog, Arab Spring Can Help Rethink Anthropology
Marianne Butler, AAA Blog, Discussing New Reproductive Technologies at Annual Meeting
D Archie Frink, AAA Blog, Meeting Perspective – Day Two
Guiseppe de Cesare, AAA Blog, Anthropologists From All Over The World Get Together In Montreal
Alice Walker, AAA Blog, Meeting Perspective – Day One