|In 2008, historian Howard Zinn came to Binghamton University to give a talk. At the dinner beforehand, Zinn suddenly disappeared. He had gone to the kitchen to thank the cook, dishwashers and serving people for their work. We would like to follow his example in a slightly more programmatic way.
Goals: AAA Meetings are complex events in terms of their program preparation. But they also have a hidden material dimension consisting of a circulation of things and services ranging from provisioning restaurants and hotel laundries to the work of hotel employees, taxi drivers and cleaners. Anthropologists who are otherwise interested in cultural, economic and ecological facets of the social remain strangely uninformed about these components of their own meetings. Our proposal is a roundtable event that focuses on these issues. We want to bring out into the open the materiality and labor of those who enable our anthropological discourses at the annual meetings. The goal is to listen to, learn from and reflect on the experiences of those who literally become our servants for a week.
Organization: 1. Anthropologists on the Panel We have invited three anthropologists who have an interest in such issues.
2. Non-Anthropologists on the Panel The panel will include an approximately equal number of local people involved in the economic and ecological aspects of the meeting. We will invite persons from the hotel desk, cleaning staff, food service, street vendors outside, and taxi drivers. Recruitment of potential participants will begin before the meetings by contacting the hotel officials. We will take care that participants do not suffer negative repercussions from their participation.
3. The Event A- Starzmann, Pollock and Bernbeck will facilitate the event and ensure that there is an open atmosphere, so that non-anthropologists feel comfortable expressing their views. We will start with a brief discussion amongst the anthropologists in order to set the stage for those who are not used to such a venue. B- We will then to shift to asking the non-anthropologists informational questions concerning: I. Labor - involved in caring for us as hotel guests and conference participants II. Material - How much waste do we produce? - When and how is it removed? III. Diachronic Dimensions - How does provisioning and removal of waste develop over the course of a meeting: are there particularly wasteful/difficult days ? - Which part of a conference is particularly stressful for employees? - How does the AAA meeting compare to others? C- The conversation will be opened to questions from the audience and from hotel and other employees who participate in the session.
4. Requests for Specific Support from AAA We request that this event be scheduled on Saturday so that we have time to make arrangements with those non-anthropologists who take part in the panel. We ask the AAA to provide outside participants (e.g., a taxi driver, a street vendor) with a "guest tag" to give them access to the conference.