ASA October 2009 AN Column

Anthropology News • October 2009 • Volume 50 • Issue 7
Paul L Doughty, Contributing Editor

Conspiracy in the Making? The ASA Connection
What does the anthropological community expect of retiring members? Philanthropy? Silence? Fade out? Disappearance? A former student of mine recently wrote to ask my advice about his upcoming retirement and professional options. In addition to requiring planning, this is something that produces great joy for many, but may cause confusion and consternation for others.

In the extreme, the end of one’s formal professional career may raise issues like those produced in the so-called health care debate, dominated by unfounded fear and hysteria: As senior anthropologists, are our careers doomed? If so, who serves on the AAA career “death panels”? And what about senior anthropologists’ university pensions and AAA insurance—will they cut ours off when names are dropped from university listings? Or is it our money they are after as “donations”—to be used for others who aren’t so generous? Why should we give support to a professional association when our professional careers seem “over”? Obviously all seniors should get their protest signs and bullhorns ready to demand answers at the AAA Annual Meeting—or, I suppose we could take a slightly more positive approach and attend to stay engaged with our disciplinary community, to see friends and colleagues, and to continue learning about current work in the field.

At this year’s meeting, ASA will be joined in its invited session, “Anthropologists Do the Strangest Things,” by the Society for the Anthropology of North America (SANA). This event, the first in history, takes place on December 3, 8:00– 10:00 am in room 413 at the Marriott. Barbara Joans will chair the session for six distinguished presenters and a discussant. We trust that there will be seating for all seeking to listen. You’ll get an inkling of the feelings of Edward González- Tennant, Barbara Joans, Stanley Newman, Jennifer Brown, J Bryan Page and Jim Peacock as reflected in their paper titles: “Pirate Philosophy, Counter- Mapping, and Post-Racial Protest”; “Becoming a Girl Again: Anthropology in Court”; “Human Behavior in Disasters”; “Beyond the Savage and the Primitive”; “Music and Marihuana”; and “Grounded Globalism.”

Following the invited session, the famous ASA “Invited” Members Board and Business Luncheon takes place on Thursday at noon “off site” at the well-known McCormick & Schmick restaurant, located at 1 South Broad St, three blocks from the Marriott. We look forward to having ASA members and “wannabes” join with colleagues in good conversation, some ASA business and a fine repast—an ASA member benefit!

There is more! Some of you may have noticed that at the Philadelphia meeting ASA will have a joint roundtable discussion with the National Association of Student Anthropologists (NASA). Scheduled for Friday at 4:00 pm in the Grand Ballroom Salon with the suggestive title “Alternate Generation Solidarity,” this collective endeavor is certain to raise fear among ruling elites. Think of it: young rebels and old “free” radicals together! And that is not all! We are also in league with the Association of Indigenous Anthropologists (AIA) in supporting their roundtable session on Friday at 10:15 am in room 413 (the same room as our joint session with SANA).

Although most of us are retired, one doesn’t have to be of any particular age to be part of ASA, just mature enough. Indeed, a number of our current members are still gathering regular paychecks. However, if even half of all retired AAA members (well over 500 persons) should make an appearance at the annual AAA Business Meeting asking about AAA group health care for example, it would be attention-getting. If these retirees joined ASA and came to our annual member luncheon we would need a ballroom. Why not?

Regardless of such speculation, we urge all those mature enough to join ASA for the paltry sum of $10 per annum dues. We welcome you to become an ASA member during the annual meeting at the AAA booth in the exhibit area, so you don’t forget to do it later on.

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