By Brian J. Burke
Outgoing Chair, Student Committee
To celebrate the New Year, the Student Committee would like to welcome our new committee members, reflect on last year’s successes and chart a path for the future. Elisha Oliver, a graduate student at the University of Oklahoma, will be the new Vice-Chair. Elisha, who studies medical anthropology and is currently focusing on issues of homelessness, brings to the committee a great deal of energy, a passion for service, and experience in the non-profit sector. Emilie Springer, a graduate student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, will be our new Newsletter Editor. Emilie is a member of the NSF Resilience and Adaptation Program and studies human-environment systems and transitions in Alaska’s diverse commercial fisheries and coastal communities. Hanna Garth, a PhD candidate at UCLA, will be our new Secretary. She studies food systems, how the urban poor access food in Santiago de Cuba, and the Food Movement in Los Angeles. In addition, we’re looking forward to the participation of a new (soon to be announced) student representative to the Executive Committee. These new committee members will join current Treasurer Paul Boshears, current Communications Coordinator Rey Villanueva, and our new Chair Andrew Tarter to keep up the good work of the Student Committee. Andrew is a doctoral student at the University of Florida whose research in Haiti examines a wide range of issues including Vodou (voodoo), Kreyòl (Haitian Creole), farmers and agriculture, applied anthropology, GIS, and social network analysis.
Over the last two years, the Student Committee has continued to increase the involvement of students in the Society for Applied Anthropology through a range of exciting new programs. For starters, we began developing a more participatory and democratic process by holding our first all-student-member elections in early 2011 (previously committee members were selected by the committee). Although the small slate of candidates in 2012 eliminated the need for elections, we look forward to continuing in this vein. In order to communicate more effectively with student members, we also launched a new Facebook page where we can disseminate information and receive feedback from members – we’re still building momentum around the page, so please join and contribute. And of course we’ve continued to administer the student travel grants made possible by generous contributions to the SfAA Student Endowment.
Two achievements of the 2011 Student Committee really stand out. First, led by outgoing Newsletter Editor Elizabeth Marino, we’ve transitioned this student corner into a venue for student written micro-essays that offer sharp and provocative commentary on the theory and practice of applied social science. Recent issues have built towards the Student Committee sponsored track at the 2012 Annual Meetings (see below) by focusing on the political ecology of migration, health, race and class, and gender and disasters. This is a great opportunity for students to explore new ideas, share insights, and publish, and we’ve really enjoyed the chance to read so many high quality submissions. And second, we have helped organize a special track for the 2012 SfAA Annual Meetings focused on alternative and non-capitalist political ecologies. The track will consist of an opening plenary session featuring theoretical and political reflections by anthropologists and geographers, more than 17 conference sessions, two tours of Baltimore-based alternative economy and alternative political ecology projects, and a number of opportunities for conference goers to participate in alternative economies during the meetings. This special track answers the call by former SfAA President Allan Burns for students to inject the meetings with exciting new ideas and a critical edge. Learn more by visiting http://alt-political-ecologies.weebly.com.
This coming year the Student Committee is interested in continuing the momentum established by the Alternative Political Ecologies track and associated sessions at the Baltimore 2012 meetings. Having a student-generated, student-sponsored track is one way of ensuring that student perspectives and ideas are represented at the meetings. One idea for the 2013 meetings includes a “Revolution” themed track to reflect the recent protests, movements, and reorganizations of governance seen throughout the world. Please come to the Student Committee’s business meeting in Baltimore and/or get in touch via our Facebook page to share your thoughts on this idea or suggestions for alternative themes.
Another major goal for the next year is the continued advancement of a new student paper prize, overseen and administered by the Student Committee. It is our hope that the prize will eventually provide funding to permit the winner to travel and present their paper at the annual meeting. Furthermore, in the same way that the winner of the Peter K. New student prize works with the editors of Human Organization on potential publication, we are taking steps to allow the winner of the new prize to work with the editors of Practicing Anthropology for potential publication. At this point we would like to welcome ideas for an appropriate name for the prize, reflective of a paper that will cover the wide-range of anthropological inquiry.
Please join us at our Baltimore activities – the welcome reception, mentoring session, business meeting – and online so you can get involved and we can better serve your interests. To close, we’d like to thank Brian Burke, Elizabeth Marino, and Jeannette Smith for their work on the committee, and we look forward to another great year.