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AfAA Association Update (Winter 2007)

Edited by Jennifer E. Coffman (James Madison Univeristy)

2007 Copyright © American Anthropology Association

AfAA Invited Session:
“African Art and Anthropology: Representing the Social Self”
By Bennetta Jules-Rosette (University of California at San Diego)

On Thursday, 16th November 2006, the AfAA invited session “African Art and Anthropology: Representing the Social Self,” co-organized by Bennetta Jules-Rosette and J.R. Osborn, was presented at the AAA Annual Meetings in San José. Papers by Bennetta Jules-Rosette, J.R. Osborn, and Hudita Mustafa examined Bogumil Jewsiewicki’s concept of collaboratively constructed “transactional identities.” Panelists analyzed how artists and researchers use self-positioning to create an imagined world that recalibrates the past and the present. Applying this approach, Jules-Rosette addressed popular African painting. Osborn analyzed contemporary Sudanese calligraphic art. And, Mustafa looked at fashion in Dakar as a social and artistic construction. Imageries of popular painting, calligraphy, and fashion deploy the self as a vehicle for interrogating larger social issues that transcend the frame of the art. Discussant comments by Bogumil Jewsiewicki (the AfAA Distinguished Lecturer for 2006) and David Coplan noted that the panelists were going beyond the reflexive turn to propose a new genre challenging the limits of shared anthropology and the strategies of negotiation used in the ethnography of art. This session was a prelude to the Distinguished Lecture by Bogumil Jewsiewicki later that evening, in which several of the popular paintings discussed in the panel were reviewed and reinterpreted. All participants agreed that these topics should be further explored in another session next year.

AfAA and PAAA: Building Bridges…
By David Coplan (University of the Witwatersrand)

As AfAA 'continental liason', I attended the joint conference between our local South African anthropological association (called 'Anthropology Southern Africa') and the Pan Africanist Anthropologists Association (PAAA) in Cape Town, South African, 4th – 7th December 2006. I spoke up at the PAAA business meeting suggesting that we in the AfAA are ready to extend ourselves in order to forge mutually beneficial links with the PAAA, as well as ASA. I also had a lengthy sit down with their President, Professor Paul Nkwi of Cameroon. They did mention that there had been previous contact between AfAA and PAAA. In brief, not surprisingly, they wish to inquire about the extent to which AfAA, or AAA itself, might be willing to assist with PAAA projects. Professor Nkwi described some problems with the PAAA’s operating budget (a situation not unknown to the AAA), but suggested that these are surmountable and that the PAAA had significant plans for the upcoming year. Those plans include a workshop for heads of departments of anthropology in African Universities. The workshop would ideally occur in Cameroon around mid-August 2007. This is one activity in which the PAAA would gratefully welcome collaboration with the AfAA, especially in the mobilization of funds. It is expected the workshop will bring together at least 25 heads of anthropology departments and will cost around $30,000. Further, the 2007 PAAA annual conference will be held in Khartoum, Sudan, to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the existence of that department at the university. PAAA invites and would be thrilled to host members of the AfAA. For more information, the new President of the PAAA is Mustafa Babiker: mababiker[@]hotmail.com

Khartoum, anyone?

Next month…

Stay tuned for more information on the Elliott Skinner Book Award for outstanding recent book in Africanist Anthropology (includes a cash prize), as well as other new initiatives underway at AfAA.

 

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