AES/SUNTA Conference April 2011


 A conference sponsored by The American Ethnological Society And

The Society for Urban, National and Transnational Anthropology

  Caribe Hilton, San Juan, Puerto Rico

April 14-April 17 2011


It is our pleasure to welcome you to “New Forms of Difference/New Forms of Connection”, a conference jointly sponsored and organized by the American Ethnological Society and the Society for Urban, National and Transnational Anthropology.  When we first began to plan this conference in the spring of 2010, very few of us could have foreseen the events that unfolded in the succeeding months – from Tunisia and Egypt to Wisconsin, the halls of the U.S. Congress, and the campuses of the University of Puerto Rico  — that make the conferences themes even more urgent and relevant.  You will find that several panels and roundtables include front-line and first-hand reports and analyses.

 We are honored to have Frances Fox Piven as our keynote speaker.  As most of you know, Frances is an exemplary engaged scholar who played a pioneering role in studying the root causes of poverty, and poor people’s movements. Her work serves as a guidepost to all of us at time when public, engaged scholarship is much needed.

 We are especially pleased to hold this conference in Puerto Rico. The island’s “special” relationship with the United States – first as conquered and annexed territory, and now as “free associated state” – has also meant a special relationship between Puerto Rico (and Puerto Rican migrants in the U.S.) and U.S social sciences, from the early educational policies of the occupation government at the turn of the 20th century, through the Moynihan report and the “culture of poverty” debate. On Saturday, starting at 8 a.m., we are offering a three-part roundtable examining the legacy of the “Puerto Rico Project”, a study of “modernization” in the island, carried out in the late 1940s by Julian Steward and his students.  In addition, the Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR) has been targeted by the island’s government for budget cuts, tuition hikes, layoffs and privatization. In April of 2010, UPR students called a strike, and student protests (and often violent police response) have continued over the past year. Friday afternoon there is a double panel, “Lucidity and Engagement”, on the UPR strikes, including both faculty and student participants.

 We want to thank AES President Jane Collins and SUNTA President Don Nonini, as well as our respective boards, for their support and input.  Special thanks to Jorge Duany of the Universidad de Puerto Rico for his input and help throughout. Thanks also to Jocelyn Degollado and Lorena [last name] of the Universidad del Valle Guatemala for their help.

 Sharryn Kasmir                                            Lisa Maya Knauer

AES co-chair                                                            SUNTA co-chair


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