Almost by accident, I discovered before the meetings in New Orleans that the Federation of Small Anthropology Programs, affectionately known as FOSAP, turned ten years old in 2002. This discovery, of course, has prompted me to reflect on the history of the organization and what it has accomplished over the years. Let me report on the results of my historical sleuthing.
FOSAP was born out of discussions between Pat Rice of West Virginia University and Franklin Young of University of San Diego who agreed that there needed to be a forum to address the issues that concern anthropologists in small programs. They operationally defined a small program as one with five or fewer full-time anthropologists. Realizing that an organizational home had to be found within the AAA, Rice and Young succeeded in getting FOSAP approved as a committee within the General Anthropology Division, a status it continues to hold. In order for FOSAP to become a committee, at least one hundred members of the AAA had to indicate interest in becoming members. That, apparently, was no problem; an early edition of the Newsletter indicates that 215 people became members of FOSAP.
In the first year of operation, Rice and Young conducted a survey of 150 small programs culled from the Guide to Departments in an effort to discover what problems and issues were faced by the many anthropologists in small programs across the country. From this survey, they organized what was to be the first of many symposia for the national meetings in 1992. Appropriately enough, the session was entitled "Problems and Issues in Small Programs."
One of the most significant accomplishments of FOSAP has been the organization of symposia for the annual meetings. Over the last ten years, there have been twelve sessions which usually have been given "invited" status by GAD on topics that frequently concern teaching: four field coverage in introductory courses, teaching anthropological methods, using electronic media and courseware, the utility of the Internet, and teaching the anthropology of North America. In addition to the sessions on pedagogy, a number of symposia have tackled issues of particular concern to those in small programs, for example, working with collateral disciplines such as sociology, assessment, anthropology and the multicultural movement, and the marginalization of anthropology in higher education.
The topics of these symposia have usually been generated out of discussions at the annual business meetings with follow up in the months afterwards. These symposia invariably have attracted large crowds despite the sometimes inopportune scheduling. Here's a complete list of the sessions, along with the two scheduled for next fall (2003). Be sure to check out those two if you attend the meetings in Chicago.
Many anthropologists in small programs are not able to come to the national meetings on a regular basis because of limited support from their home institutions (a problem in itself). Fortunately, the papers from many of the FOSAP-sponsored sessions have been published in the Newsletter. Thirteen newsletters have been published since 1992. We are grateful to the succession of faithful editors: Angelo Orona (1992-1996), Ann Maxwell Hill (1997-1999), Jim Wanner and Sally McBeth (2000), and Paul Grebinger and John Rhoades (2001 to the present). Thanks is also due to Dan Moerman for putting FOSAP on the Web at [www.fosap.org] and to John Gatewood for revising the pages and moving them underneath the AAA's overarching umbrella.
The FOSAP leadership positions include the chair, secretary-treasurer, program chair, and newsletter editor. In recent years, the program chair position was replaced by the membership chair. Betsy Baird has dutifully maintained the unruly list. She has our gratitude for this task. The list of chairs include: Frank Young (1992), Dan Moerman (1993-1995) and co-chair with Ann Hill (1995-1997), co-chairs Ann Hill and Cate Cameron (1997-2000), co-chairs Cate Cameron and Paul Grebinger (2000-2001), and co-chairs Cate Cameron and Bob Myers (2002 to present). Among the duties of the chairs is attendance and reporting of activities at the annual GAD board meetings. We welcome Bob Myers to the fold.
Although most of us trained in large anthropology programs, many of us got jobs in colleges and universities where there are just a few, and, in some cases, only one anthropologist(s). It is sometimes daunting and often challenging to be the lone voice of the discipline we love in those institutions where we work. The mission of FOSAP has always been to advance anthropology in higher education and provide support and resources to those in small programs. The bulk of that support is in the form of education through the symposia that are organized and the newsletters that are published. This work will continue, we hope, in the years ahead. We do need to hear your ideas for the direction of FOSAP on such matters as topics for future symposia and issues you would like FOSAP to address. (Please email me your thoughts on such matters.)
So, happy birthday, FOSAP. May you always prosper!
Cate Cameron, co-chair
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(Revised: April 17, 2008)