Association for the Anthropology of North America SANA Association for the Anthropology of North America

A Section of the American Anthropological Association

SANA 2015 Conference

Call for Track Proposals: Inequality, Equality, and Difference

Deadline Extended until December 20

The 2015 conference of the Society for the Anthropology of North America (SANA) will take place April 16-18 at John Jay College of the City University of New York with the theme “Inequality, Equality, Difference” (see below). The conference will be organized around several tracks, each comprising two days of sustained discussion and analysis around issues of key importance to North American society. We are now seeking proposals from individuals and groups to lead and develop tracks, which should relate to the overall conference theme.

Track Editors will each design two days of programming that creates opportunities for 15-45 conference participants. They will work closely with SANA leadership, as they recruit some submissions based in their own networks and reserve slots for submissions solicited through a forthcoming Call for Papers. We encourage themes that are broad enough to speak to an array of thinkers but specific enough to foster deep and coherent inquiry. In addition to standard paper panels, track organizers are invited to explore alternative formats for sessions such as: roundtables; response panels to previously-circulated papers; interlocutor sessions with informants or activists; keynote talks; keyword sessions; and field trips. Track editors may want to encourage pre-conference interactions (e.g., circulated papers, thoughts, shared documents, postings, etc.) so as to make conference interactions as substantive and productive as possible. The conference, perhaps best conceived as a kind of mini-school, is cumulative. It works best when participants make connections between sessions and thematic discussions build over the course of the two-day engagement. Each track should conclude with a meeting to identify emerging themes, keywords and observations that can be shared with all conference participants at the closing session.

Proposals are accepted from everyone from graduate students to senior faculty and should include:

Proposals should be submitted as an attachment and in-line text in an email to Michael Polson, Conference Chair, at by December 20. Questions may also be directed to this email. Decisions will be made shortly after the deadline in December after which a Call for Papers will be circulated. Please contact Michael Polson if you are considering organizing a panel and have any questions or are looking to partner with others to edit a track.

Conference theme: Inequality, Equality and Difference

Inequality has recently found its way back into popular discourse. Buffeted by economic and ecological crises and haunted by a welfare-turned-surveillance state, many have come to doubt the ability of the present social system to produce an equitable, sustainable society. This doubt undergirded social movements from the Right and Left, with widely ranging demands, and has in turn been taken up particularly by a liberal economic, political, and intellectual “establishment.” Some see a genuine opportunity to reduce and eliminate inequality while others see a cynical rearguard defense of an unequal system in crisis.

North American anthropologists have historically had a great deal to say about inequality. From bodies to body politics, inequalities can be made highly visible for radical or conservative aims or effaced under other logics of difference and power (e.g. “national security,” “public safety,” “economic growth”). Inequality can be many things: lived experience, social metrics, an administered and organized system of difference, a deviation from an ideal state of equality, a legal criteria, a problem in need of activist or institutional intervention. Inequality, in these definitions, doggedly and systemically persists—as does the belief in an often under-theorized equality. In this vein, we ask:

In this conference, we aim to ferret out how anthropologists frame inequality, equality and difference, how these frames inhere in society, and what realities they reflect and refract.


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