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AfAA Updates from Washington, D.C.

By Bennetta Jules-Rosette (Univeristy of California, San Diego), AfAA President

2008 Copyright © American Anthropology Association

We had a wonderful gathering in remembrance of Elliott P. Skinner in Washington, D.C. at the AAA Annual Meetings. Thank you to all who joined us. Gwendolyn Mikell presented a retrospective of Elliott P. Skinner’s life and career accompanied by a stunning slideshow prepared by J.R. Osborn. Following the formal presentation, commemorative comments were made by AfAA Board members and Elliot Skinner’s colleagues and former students. The comments emphasized Professor Skinner’s scholarly prowess and intellectual generosity over the years. Nancy Schwartz also presented a moving memorial statement on Eugenia Shanklin. The reception and presentations received kudos from the audience and many AAA members both within and outside our association. The reception was extremely well attended with a capacity audience. AfAA members sporting our new wristbands contributed to the enthusiasm of this event.

The AfAA Distinguished Lectures of Bogumil Jewsiewicki in 2006 and Gwendolyn Mikell in 2007 will be considered for publication by the AfAA. The Publications Committee consists of Gwendolyn Mikell, Betty Harris, Jennifer Coffman, and Bennetta Jules-Rosette.

In the AfAA Business Meeting, we discussed planning of our new awards and the scheduling of future events. Board committees were also discussed and finalized. To continue honoring Professor Skinner’s legacy, please consider nominating and/or applying for any of the following awards. Inaugural book and student paper awards will be presented at the 2008 AAA meetings in San Francisco (19-23 November, 2008)

Elliott P. Skinner Book Award: This prize will be awarded annually to the book that best furthers both the global community of Africanist scholars and the wider interests of the African continent as exemplified in the work of Elliott P. Skinner. Special consideration will be given to works drawing upon extensive research in the field or those advancing new methodologies for fieldwork in Africa. Submissions should be sent to Betty Harris (bharris[@] or to Bennetta Jules-Rosette (bjulesro[@]

AfAA Graduate Student Paper Award: This prize will be awarded to the best graduate student paper in Africanist anthropology. Special consideration will be given to works highlighting emerging perspectives or demonstrating promise to develop a major contribution in the fields of Africanist anthropology, African studies, or African diaspora studies. Submissions should be sent to David Turkon (dturkon[@]

AfAA Undergraduate Paper Award: This prize will be awarded to the best undergraduate paper in Africanist anthropology. Submissions should be sent to Nancy Schwartz (nancy.schwartz[@]

Contributions from all subfields of anthropology are welcome for each award. ALL AWARD NOMINATIONS ARE DUE BY 15 MAY 2008.


Recap of AfAA Panels

The AfAA sponsored Presidential Session on “Africa Unbound: Trajectories of Equality, Inequality and Social Justice in Post-Colonial Africa” was very successful. The papers covered issues of inequality of social justice in Africa, including case studies from Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, and Tanzania.

Invited AfAA Panels also included a panel on “Signifiers of Social Inequality and Narratives of Inclusion in Comparative Perspective” organized by Bennetta Jules-Rosette and J.R. Osborn. Panelists addressed the ways in which expressive and visual culture represent social inequalities. This was a lively panel highlighted in particular by discussions of Hollywood’s Africa and popular culture in South Africa, bookended by presentations on social inequality in Black France and Arabic practices of writing.

Hudita Mustafa and Ben Soares organized a panel entitled “Value and Historical Imagination: Making Markets and Publics in Contemporary Africa,” in which they discussed lifestyles and markets for African cultural products. The panelists showed that in contemporary Africa, deepening socioeconomic instability and polarization generate more, not less, ways of creating, distributing, and interpreting wealth, and therefore present a fertile and important moment for evaluating patterns of equality and exchange.

David Turkon participated in a panel on “Contesting Inequalities and Changing Models of Citizenship: Ethnographic and Theoretical Encounters with HIV/AIDS.”

(Photo courtesy of Bennetta Jules-Rosette)

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