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SAE Roundtables at AAA Meetings

You can now register for the SAE Roundtable Luncheon on the AAA Meetings website. Tickets are $45, or just $15 for students. It’s a great opportunity to discuss topics of central importance in the discipline with other scholars, to contribute observations, and to ask questions, all while eating a catered meal together. The SAE Roundtable Luncheon will be held at the AAA meetings in Montreal on Saturday, November 19 from 12:15-2 PM. Linguistic Anthropologist Susan Gal will be leading one roundtable, and all highlight important issues.

If you are already registered for the meeting you should use this guide:

To register for the meeting and the roundtables

Once you sign in, go to the ”workshops” link, and look for ”5-0535 RT”. Each roundtable is listed separately (keep going down the list because they are not all grouped together). Make sure you sign up right away because there are only 8 seats at each table.

Table abstracts are posted below:

Society for the Anthropology of Europe Roundtables

Immigrants, Citizenship and Belonging

Moderator: Caroline B. Brettell (Southern Methodist University)

The theme of the 2011 meeting, “Traces, Tidemarks, and Legacies” draws attention to how distinctions are maintained or challenged. Ideas about citizenship and belonging, particularly as these are applied to immigrant newcomers, are fundamental to constructions of distinction and difference and are hotly debated and negotiated in any number of immigrant receiving societies. This round table discussion will explore the multiple meanings of citizenship and belonging. It will address the ways in which “immigrant others” are “framed” as well as how immigrants themselves construct their own sense of belonging and their own ideas of social and cultural citizenship. Participants will be encouraged to share their own research and thinking on these critical issues.

Harvesting the Nation: The Place of Gardens in Contemporary Europe

Moderator: Melissa L. Caldwell (UC Santa Cruz)

Gardens have a long history across Europe, from aesthetically planned pleasure parks to unruly professions of wilderness, from wartime allotments to spaces of luxury food provision and recreation, and from plots rewarded by the state to productive citizens to informal patches appropriated from public spaces by immigrants in their new homes. In this roundtable we will explore the variety of gardens and garden practices that exist across Europe and consider their place in cultivating and nurturing vibrant forms of civic engagement and ethics of personal and national health. We will consider how gardens maintain and disrupt distinctions between urban and rural, leisure and work, pleasure and pain. What kinds of issues become manifest through practices that engage the earth, soil, and plants? What kinds of people and citizens are cultivated through gardening practices? How have gardens shaped the cultural and political landscape of Europe? How might we think of gardens beyond their immediate connections to food and rethink of them as spaces of political engagement in the New Europe?

Talking back: Discourses of Opposition to “Europe” in East and West

Moderator: Susan Gal (University of Chicago)

On issues of minority languages, regional autonomy, policies on environment, gender, sexuality, and on the rights of organized workers, Europeans — in different ways — have increasingly turned from supporting the futures offered by the European Union to rejecting those and even fighting against them, often from rightist perspectives. Particularly interesting are the responses of eastern and southern regions of the continent in the current economic crisis, as well as the defensive moves of the core states. This roundtable aims to compare the forms of opposition (how are they framed discursively, how ritualized or mobilized), the politics and alliances of opposition (left, right, or newly imagined positions), and the ”traces” or links they construct with each other (e.g. across east/west divides, gender/family values, or religious/linguistic) and with historical movements in other times and places.

The Future of Post-Communist Nostalgia

Moderator: Maya Nadkarni (Swarthmore College)

Over the past two decades, nostalgia for the socialist past has become widespread as not only a cultural phenomenon, but also a conceptual category through which many scholars seek to understand disparate responses to postsocialist transformations in history, memory, and collective identification more generally. Such studies have illuminated Kathleen Stewart’s well-known argument that nostalgia is a “cultural practice and not a given content” by demonstrating how across the former Soviet bloc, the apparent similarity of nostalgic forms (the fond recollection of socialist-era icons, styles, material goods, and cultural production) has only highlighted the diversity of memories, socialities, and political concerns that nostalgia animates in different contexts: from longing for Russia’s imperial past to East German pride in local products against Western regimes of consumption, and from explicitly political visions that seek to restore the material security of socialism to the dehistoricization of nostalgia itself in the commodification of “retro” style.

Inspired by this year’s theme on traces, tidemarks, and legacies, this roundtable will ask what has changed and what has remained the same for nostalgia as both an object and a category of analysis more than twenty years after the end of state socialism in Europe. With attention to the similarities and discontinuities across and within specific national and cultural contexts, we invite participants to discuss their research in light of the following questions: What are the objects, forms, and practices of post-communist nostalgia today? Who are the subjects and communities that participate in nostalgia, and what kinds of cultural work does their nostalgia enable? How do nostalgic yearnings intersect with national historical politics and the transnational production of cosmopolitan cultures of memory — as well as shifting social, political, and economic conditions that have recently ranged from the experience of the global financial crisis to the ambivalences of EU membership? Finally, given the passing of generations and the increasingly divergent trajectories of the former Soviet bloc states, is post-communist nostalgia losing its relevance as both a cultural phenomenon and an analytical frame? Indeed, would the waning of nostalgia offer proof that the communist past has been put to rest, or simply suggest that the memory of past era no longer facilitates the critical or utopic imaginings that nostalgia once mobilized?

The SAE and the Future of European Studies

Moderator: Deborah Reed-Danahay (SUNY at Buffalo)

This roundtable, moderated by the current President of SAE, is intended to renew dialogue about anthropological approaches to Europe. As we begin to take stock of Europeanist anthropology at the 25th anniversary of SAE, this conversation will begin to generate some lasting and fruitful new exchanges among members of SAE. Examples of broad questions we might discuss include:

  • How do current trends in Europe affect ethnographic methods and assumptions about research?
  • What are the unique contributions of anthropology today to understandings of Europe, and how can we best communicate with our colleagues in the humanities and social sciences, as well as policy makers?
  • What role can and should SAE play in facilitating research related to Europe?

It is hoped that both senior and more junior colleagues will participate in this discussion.

Doing the Ethnography of Europe in a Cyber Age

Moderator: Sharon R. Roseman (Memorial University of Newfoundland)

The technological, social and cultural changes associated with new media such as electronic mail, social networking sites, gaming and other forms of computer-mediated communication pose new challenges and opportunities for ethnographers. This roundtable will explore the methodological, epistemological, and ethical issues that arise from the engagement with such media as part of fieldwork. These issues must be considered in light of the traces, tidemarks, and legacies of longstanding fieldwork practices. For example, we will consider new media methods in light of the important cautions and possibilities raised by recent works such as John Borneman and Abedellah Hammoudi’s 2009 collection Being There: The Fieldwork Encounter and the Making of Truth. If we are doing research with individuals for whom the Internet is a key technology for social interaction and self-representation, how do we develop a sense of their multi-faceted subjectivities and the broader political economic contexts in which such mediation is situated? How do new media methods work with collaborative ethnographies of topics such as political activism, media production, or science and technology studies? New media may also be a key tool when undertaking the kind of multi-sited projects which involve tracing movements and relationships through space and time, as when studying migration or tourism, or simply studies of everyday communication among friends, kin, and coworkers who may live in proximity to each other. Finally, we will discuss the potential value of creating virtual archives and weblogs as part of ongoing fieldwork or a post-fieldwork analytical or dissemination phase of research projects.