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VIDEO DOI: https://doi.org/10.48448/p1hg-5677


AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

Organizing as Anthropological Method: Toward a Critical Disciplinary Praxis For Our Time



social justice


The first two decades of the 21st century have seen a global resurgence of social movements and popular uprisings, including Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring, #BlackLivesMatter, #NoDAPL, #MeToo, and other struggles against empire, capitalism, state violence, white supremacy, settler colonialism, and gender violence. These movements have brought back into focus the vital role of organizing in diagnosing and ultimately transforming our contemporary social conditions, relations, and collective futures. The effects of organizing have also fundamentally shifted the terrain in which we think about and do anthropology. The proposed Executive Roundtable invites much needed reflection on the contemporary stakes of doing anthropology in a historical moment that is defined by the impact of global organizing work, and considers the ways organizing in its various forms both shapes and complicates a critical disciplinary praxis. This roundtable convenes an intergenerational group of practicing anthropologists including current graduate students, junior, and senior scholars, whose scholarly work and political commitments span geographic regions (North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa) and whose community organizing and advocacy experience addresses anti-racism, decolonization, anti-imperialism, anti-capitalism, queer liberation, prison abolition, gender violence, and reproductive justice. We take up this year’s theme of “Truth and Responsibility” by interrogating the ways contemporary organizing models and demands different practices of accountability, action, and commitment for anthropology and anthropologists. We consider anthropology’s historic engagement (or lack thereof) with organizing and activism as a methodological and ethical practice. We ask how the disciplinary legacies of “activist,” “decolonial,” “public,” or “engaged” anthropologies illuminate the possibilities and limits of anthropological thought and practice, and reveal sites of transformation? Participants offer firsthand experiences related to their organizing work within and beyond anthropology and the ways this has shaped their methodological praxes of “fugitive,” “feminist,” “decolonial,” and “abolitionist” anthropologies, and “home/work”. Grounded in these reflections on organizing as anthropological method, we reckon with what contemporary activism can offer ethnography and the anthropological imagination; ways ethnography can productively contribute to organizing efforts and the communities anthropologists develop solidarities among; and institutional and professional barriers to integrating organizing into the theory and practice of anthropology. Our overarching aim is to inspire disciplinary experimentation and imagination of how to evolve anthropology in response to and in solidarity with the changing needs of our field and our broader current social and political conditions.


Transcript English (automatic)

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