Samuel Martínez, EPC chair
Our 115th Annual Meeting, held from November 16–20, 2016, enjoyed excellent attendance with over 5,300 members registering for five days of lively discussion and debate.
The Executive Program Committee was headed by Samuel Martínez as program chair and comprised of out-going and in-coming program chairs, Ann Stahl and Agustín Fuentes, with 11 individuals representing diverse subfields and geographic areas of interest.
Minneapolis saw our first opening keynote address, delivered by political scientist and public affairs commentator, Melissa Harris-Perry at the evening plenary of November 16. Against the background of the November elections, Harris-Perry’s scintillating intersectional analysis of “What Just Happened?” provoked an animated discussion, which continued for more than an hour after her talk.
University of Minnesota Dakota linguist Neil McKay (Çante Máza) provided warm and moving words of Native welcome, reminding the opening plenary’s thousand or so attendees of the priority of Indigenous nations on the land. The leadership of Ann Stahl and the AAA Executive Board is to be commended for adding it to the program chair’s duties to seek out this formal Indigenous participation in every Annual Meeting opening reception.
New also this year was the EPC’s late summer call for panels on late-breaking events. Six of these sessions that spoke to events “in the news” were picked for inclusion in the program.
More than one attendee remarked with approval that the Minneapolis meeting was the most politically charged and policy relevant in recent memory. Even as the post-election conjuncture surely inclined many to address matters of political context, the meeting theme of Evidence, Accident, Discovery, also served as a ground for reflection on the politics and ethics of our engagement with interlocutors inside and outside anthropology and academia. Harris-Perry’s opening keynote, the Executive, Invited and Late-Breaking Sessions and hundreds more panels, presentations, posters, and installations pondered how evidence from anthropological findings on race, gender, and class can provide a basis for contesting denials of scientific evidence and seeking effective and innovative responses to the pressing challenges of our time.
Many hands helped lighten the program chair’s tasks. Thanks to Bill Beeman for his guidance as the Minneapolis site committee chair, and to the members of the EPC and site committee for their thoughtful and diligent engagement with our mandate. Ed Liebow deserves special mention for his support for adding a keynote presentation to the opening reception and taking the lead in inviting Melissa Harris-Perry. Above all, the talent, energy, and imagination of the AAA meeting staff, Ushma Suvarnakar, Carla Fernandez, and Alana Mallory, publishing and communications staff, Natalie Konopinski, Jeff Martin, and Anne Kelsey, along with the timely assistance of the rest of the AAA staff during the week of the meeting itself, must all be recognized for making our Annual Meeting possible.
The 2017 Annual Meeting will focus on why Anthropology Matters! and will take place in Washington DC, November 29 – December 3.
See the AAA website for details and deadlines.