Reclaiming Our Truths

Thursday, Nov. 15, 10:15 AM - 12:00 PM
San Jose Convention Center, Grand Ballroom A
Roundtable, Co-sponsored with the Association of Black Anthropologists

The AAA meetings are a space in which to reevaluate and redirect anthropology. Each year, we ask similarly critical questions about anthropology, yet we see little meaningful change in the discipline (Parikh 2018). How does race shape our ethnographic work and our work within our respective institutions? Why does anthropology as a discipline continue to systematically devalue and delegitimize ethnic studies, or view those anthropologists who work on race as ethnic studies scholars instead of anthropologists? How has anthropology been helpful and/or detrimental to the progress of scholars of color and scholars of race and inequality? Why does anthropology continually address class and gender more frequently than race (Ahearn 2013)? As Ruth Behar once said, “Anthropology has changed, but not enough yet” (2009). What is perhaps most pressing to ponder is whether or not anthropology can be transformed, whether or not we want to transform it, or if the path forward is to build something completely different. To truly decolonize the colonial discipline of anthropology might literally mean to end the discipline entirely (Rosa 2017).

This round table offers a deeply personal and interactive space in to which to address these pressing questions by reflecting on our respective research and embodied knowledge on race and racialization as relates to personhood, citizenship, the body, language, media, political economies, and public space. By extension, we will also discuss our institutional labor and building in efforts to transform anthropology and the academy more broadly. In response to this year’s theme, we will focus on our continued resistance to the colonial and white supremacist practices in anthropology, and how we have worked towards creating projects (whether they are accepted as anthropological projects or not) that serve our communities in dynamic and reciprocal ways, thus exploring if/how we can be individual agents of change in the discipline. Practicing resistance, resilience, and adaptation is precisely how those of us on this round table have survived as anthropologists. We will address how championing this spirit of resistance might be the only way for anthropology to have a redeeming future.

Presenters: Deborah Thomas, University of Pennsylvania; Aimee Cox, Yale University; John Jackson, Jr., University of Pennsylvania; Carolyn Rouse, Princeton University; Vanessa Diaz, Loyola Marymount University; Jemima Pierre, University of California, Los Angeles; Shannon Speed, UCLA; Setha Low, CUNY, Graduate Center