NEW DEADLINE for the Society for the Anthropology of North America Spring 2007 Conference in New Orleans.
You may now submit your paper and session proposals by February 14, 2007!
Visit www.sananet.org for instructions. Contact David Beriss, SANA 2007 Conference Chair, with questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
See below for a reminder of the conference theme. Keep in mind that we welcome submissions for any research on North America.
In the call for papers, we noted that this conference will provide many opportunities outside of the actual meetings. Here are a few of the events we expect to be able to offer:
1) Neighborhood history/environment/rebuilding tours. We will take you to the 9th Ward, to New Orleans East, to St. Bernard Parish, etc. to see the impact of Katrina and to speak with residents and activists about the challenges they still face.
2) A guided tour (by an anthropologist) of the areas of St. Bernard Parish impacted by the Murphy Oil spill. These neighborhoods were devastated not only be 10-20 feet of water, but by millions of barrels of oil at the same time.
3) Visits to the Vietnamese community in New Orleans East. In one of the most devastated parts of the city, this community was among the first to return and revive. They have faced challenges from both the floods and from political leaders determined to place a landfill in the area. The organizing and revival of this community is one of the bright spots of the recovery.
4) Meetings with education activists and school leaders. The New Orleans public school system, already in poor condition before Katrina, were essentially wiped out by the disaster. A variety of charter schools, state-run schools and a very small city run system have replace the public system in the wake of the disaster. We will arrange visits to schools and meetings with activists to see what this may suggest both for New Orleans and for urban schools nationwide.
5) New Orleans Charity Hospital system – along with much of the health care system – was destroyed. A number of interesting initiatives, including those of the Common Ground collective, have been developed to meet the needs of the population. We will meet with them to explore the challenges of creating a health care system in a disaster zone.
6) We hope to organize a visit to the Backstreet Cultural Museum, where we can learn about efforts to preserve and develop New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian and Second Line traditions.
7) The Crescent City Farmer’s Market will organize a few special events for us at their Saturday market, only a few blocks from the conference site.
8) We will organize additional events around the recovery of the New Orleans food industry, from visiting shrimpers and fishers, whose fleets were devastated by the storm, to organizing meetings with neighborhood restaurant owners, who are struggling to survive and to rebuild the city’s culinary traditions.
9) Neighborhood organizing has been one of the bright spots in the recovery. We will organize meetings with some of the neighborhood groups to hear about their struggles. We will also organize events with other activist groups that have developed or grown since the storm, including the Buy Local NOLA campaign, the Urban Conservancy, etc.
10) Similarly, a number of national organizing groups, from ACORN to Habitat for Humanity, have been involved in large projects here. We can meet with them and perhaps even participate in their projects, including house gutting or building new homes in devastated areas.
This is only a small sample of the activities we are organizing. We are also organizing a series of plenary panels around innovative themes involving both anthropologists and local activists. This will be a conference unlike most of the others you have attended.
If you have not already submitted an abstract and made plans to come on down, you should do so now. New Orleans is still a wonderful place to visit – there are plenty of hotels, restaurants, clubs, etc. open in the areas around the conference site and you can still have a great time here. The city needs your solidarity now and you will enjoy supporting us!
Come on down!
SANA 2007 Conference Chair and Chair, Department of Anthropology, University of New Orleans
The call for papers:
April 19-21, 2007, New Orleans, Louisiana
University of New Orleans Downtown Conference Center
The Society for the Anthropology of North America invites participants to join a discussion about the unnatural disasters unfolding around us, in North America and beyond. This conference, located in a city and region that has recently experienced one of the most dramatic unnatural disasters to occur in North America in decades, will provide an unusual blend of scholarly discussion and opportunities to directly observe the impact of that ongoing disaster.
We at SANA feel it particularly important to host our annual conference in New Orleans this year. The floods that followed hurricane Katrina killed over 1500 people, destroyed thousands of homes, and shattered the city’s social fabric. The disaster made explicit many of the contradictions and conflicts that simmer beneath the surface much of the time. Recognizing widespread interest in what is happening in post-Katrina New Orleans, this conference will go beyond those typical academic conferences that are housed in conference centers and hotels in stark isolation from the locales where they take place. In addition to research presentations, we will organize a series of events and activities where conference participants will be able to visit different neighborhoods, learn about grassroots efforts to rebuild the city, and engage in dialogue with activists and others who are fighting against the displacement, poverty, and racism that have sadly become the hallmarks of New Orleans's post-Katrina economic recovery.
For this conference, we seek papers that analyze the genesis, meaning and consequences of unnatural disasters. We juxtapose these terms precisely to encourage participants to raise questions about the processes of naturalization—and normalization—through which human agency is rendered visible and invisible first in naming some events as disasters, in deeming disasters as worthy of both prevention and remediation, and in defining other events as not disastrous or even viewing them as serendipitous. From this stance disasters can include large scale environmental events, such as floods, hurricanes, oil spills and earthquakes; the everyday struggles of ordinary people in marginalized communities; ongoing disasters such as AIDS and illiteracy. What, exactly, constitutes a disaster has become one of the central questions raised by recent events in the Gulf South, the Middle East, and elsewhere. Indeed, Katrina, like many other ‘natural’ catastrophes, put poverty, racism, and the lengths many women must go to care for their families into the public eye. It highlighted the terrible consequences of inadequate investments in public infrastructure and services in one US city. And it is already clear that the response to Katrina—a mixture of failed efforts to help evacuees and successful creation of crony capitalist opportunities for business—has remade the political, social, economic and cultural landscape of an iconic city.
Large scale disasters often lead to calls for fundamental social and cultural change, but even more often they seem to result in the reaffirmation of the previous social order. This conference will occur at a moment when the calls for change at the site of recent disasters have not (yet) ceded to the return of “order” and thus provides a useful context to examine what disasters reveal about our understandings of the personal and the political, the public and the private, the distant or remote and the intimate, the natural and the cultural, the innocent and the guilty, the inevitable and the avoidable. In the wake of recent disasters, it seems that a great deal more than simply rebuilding homes and businesses is at stake. Papers at this conference might raise questions about the relationship between disasters of all sorts and the privatization of government services, disinvestment in infrastructure, increasing inequality, environmental degradation, the undermining of democratic institutions, racism and heightened ethnic tensions. Research that focuses on the role of academe, the social sciences and anthropology in the context of disasters will also be welcome. By confronting our own research with the reality of a city in the midst of recovery, we will be able to consider whether or not the unnatural disaster in New Orleans represents the future of North America.
Please visit the SANA web site, www.sananet.org, for further information about the conference, instructions for submitting paper and panel proposals, registration and travel information or send an email to: SANA2007NOLA@gmail.com
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