Presidential Plenary Session in Honor of John van Willigen: The Art and Science of Applied Anthropology in the 21st Century

We’re beginning our 2008 round of podcasts! I’d like to thank Russell Willems for doing the audio editing!

Below is a list of the speakers in the order of their presentation as well as their paper abstracts as found in the 2008 SfAA Annual Meeting program. Note that as the session chair, Kedia introduces each speaker.

CHAIR: Satish Kedia (U Memphis)

Presidential Plenary Session in Honor of John van Willigen:
The Art and Science of Applied Anthropology in the 21st Century.

Anthropology has historically represented a bridge between the arts and sciences in explorations of human cultures. Anthropologists’ seamless blending of humanity and scientific rigor to address contemporary public issues to meet the needs of the larger community, both globally and locally, pushes us to the forefronts of engaged scholarship. As our discipline evolves and adapts to continual changes in the cultures and institutions around the world, the work of applied anthropologists becomes even more critical in transforming their knowledge into meaningful practices. This session will respond to some of these issues and provide frameworks for the future direction of applied anthropology and its practitioners in the 21st century. The plenary session will include an open forum and a reception in honor of John van Willigen.

Susan Andreatta (U NC-Greensboro)

Marietta L. Baba (Michigan State U)

Truth and Reconciliation: Acknowledging Mutual Theory-Practice Exchanges in an Era of Anthropological Engagement
The history of anthropology reveals the relevance of larger contexts to theory-practice relations. Practice has played a leading role in periods of economic and political turbulence in nations around the world. Periods of theoretical development often are related to, or follow on from, engagement in the larger world, whether this is acknowledged or not. The present era of uncertainty is one that challenges theoretical structures to respond to rapid changes in our contexts; engagement, not only criticism, is an ethical responsibility and a requirement for learning. This paper acknowledges the historical and current exchanges of theory and practice, and explores ways to reconcile these crucial forms of inquiry with new intellectual approaches that can encourage synergy between them.

Erve Chambers (U Maryland)

Applied Ethnography, Part Two
Nothing in anthropology brings us closer to bridging the artfulness of our profession and the scientific rigor of our discipline than does the melding of those processes that underlie the production of ethnography and the conceptualization of culture. How are ethnography and culture transformed as we learn to situate both as processes in which we participate rather than as properties that we declare? How are the practice of ethnography and the declaration of culture affected by our relationships with research clients, our obligations to the subjects of our inquiries, and our engagement with what we perceive to be a greater public good?

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Session took place in Memphis, TN at the 68th Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology in March 2008.

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