Changing Climates: Struggle, Collaboration, and Justice | Changer d’air: Lutte, collaboration et justice
2019 Executive Program Chairs Nicole Peterson, Martha Radice, and Pamela Downe
This past November in Vancouver, BC, Canada, 5,707 attendees gathered for the 118th annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, jointly held with the Canadian Anthropological Association (CASCA). These conference goers (from 69 countries) participated in 1,118 events, including 742 sessions, panels and roundtables, all across the city and focused around the theme of “Changing Climates: Struggle, Collaboration, and Justice / Changer d’air: Lutte, collaboration et justice.”
Attendees came together to discuss a range of anthropological issues including the ways in which anthropologists can better tackle global challenges presented by climate change, as well as increasing inequalities and injustices. In particular, sessions brought together anthropologists and their collaborators to address issues of marginalization, migration, decolonization, and resistance and how our discipline can provide insight into addressing these kinds of complex issues. The keynote speaker, Douglas Cardinal, a renowned Métis/Blackfoot architect, provided a vision for indigenous collaboration, justice, and futures that spoke to many of these ideas.
In Vancouver we also came together in solidarity to examine how we can increase access to our discipline and the annual meetings through more effective access policies for disabled people, non-anthropologist collaborators, and the public. Nell Koneczny, AAA’s accessibility and meetings coordinator, provided guidelines for accessible presentations, transportation, hotels, and health services as important ways to create more accessible meetings. We hope that the 2020 meetings continue to improve efforts around meeting accessibility.
The AAA/CASCA executive program committee also worked with AAA and CASCA leadership to increase the visibility of waivers for non-anthropologists and encouraged submissions with non-anthropologist collaborators. In addition, the AAA extended invitations to each of the host First Nations, offering complimentary registration to the conference (that could be transferred among individuals). Many sessions brought collaboration to the meetings, including the Executive Sessions “Intercultural Collaborations to Advance Climate Actions,” “Drug War Correspondents,” and “The Time of Justice.” We also put together a public-facing day of sessions on Saturday, and hope that these efforts also continue in 2020, building on discussions in 2018 around “public anthropology” and 2017’s theme “Anthropology Matters.” In addition, the meetings also experimented with “virtual” online conferencing; something we expect to improve in future years in recognition of the environmental, economic, and health costs of physical attendance.
We also had the opportunity to think about our own practices, and how they tied to issues of inequalities and injustice, such as in sessions like “Cite Black Women,” “Anthropologists against Imperialism,” “Decolonial Methods,” and “Indigenous People, Reconciliation, and Anthropology.” We hope to see these difficult discussions continue in future meetings, projects, and publications.
Each annual meeting is an attempt to encourage anthropology to explore new topics and opportunities, and we were excited to see this happen in a variety of areas. We were pleased to bring attention to climate change, collaboration, and justice as important issues for anthropological engagement. We were excited for how meeting attendees responded to this with creativity, passion, and thoughtfulness, and we look forward to the 2020 AAA meetings which will continue to focus on “Truth and Responsibility” as an opportunity to bear witness, take action, and be held accountable to the truths we write and circulate. See you in St. Louis!