About the Society
As scholars today face all sorts of possibilities—as well as the impositions of a great many restraints—the Society for Cultural Anthropology (SCA) is ever aware of the challenge of providing innovative, provocative, but also substantive benefits for its membership, for the academy, and for the many publics with whom we seek to engage. This has been an enduring concern since 1983 when this section was founded by figures like David Schneider, Clifford Geertz, and many others. Then as now, the SCA endeavors to put anthropology in conversation with the related humanities and social sciences—and emerging perspectives in the sciences—and in so doing to think critically about the received categories, as well as the established ethnographic genres, that shape so much of anthropological knowledge. The ethos of our journal, website, conferences, and wider programming is still in keeping with that spirit, bringing scholars together, reaching across borders, and fostering shared human understanding.
The principle project of the SCA is our widely respected journal, Cultural Anthropology. Inaugurated under the editorial guidance of George Marcus in 1986, the journal has made an evermore significant impact within and beyond our discipline under the stewardship of its successive editors: Fred Myers, Dan Segal, Ann Anagnost, Kim and Mike Fortun, and Anne Allison and Charles Piot. The journal continues to expand the form and content of anthropological thinking and writing in a great may ways.
The SCA is also expanding the possibilities of anthropology publishing. In 2014, Cultural Anthropology becomes an open access journal, freely available to anyone with a connection to the Internet, delivered though the SCA's website. The website, which began as a means of providing supplemental materials for journal articles, has grown to become an important publishing venue in its own right. It provides the platform for the journal's experiment in visual anthropology, the photo essay section, and for curated collections of past articles, with added introductions and commentaries. The site now hosts edited series of short essays: Hot Spots explores significant global events through a diversity of perspectives, while Theorizing the Contemporary enters into current topics of intellectual debate. And we are becoming a vital outlet for visual and aural media with our popular AnthoPod podcasts and documentary video screenings in the Visual and New Media Review.
The "Culture@Large" panel at each year's AAA meeting is the SCA's signal contribution, in addition to our invited sessions. This panel features an author-meets-critics format, where anthropology interacts with interlocutors from outside the discipline. Among the scholars we have hosted includes Dorion Sagan, Isabelle Stengers, Michael Hardt, Gerald Torres, John Guillory, Susan Buck-Morss, George Lipsitz, and Lauren Berlant. The 2013 Culture@Large session featured a discussion about the work of W.T.J. Mitchell on iconology.
The SCA has long had the largest contingent of graduate student members of any AAA section. We are especially pleased with the success of the faculty–student workshops we sponsor at each year's AAA meeting, where small groups of faculty and graduate students gather to discuss their shared research interests. The SCA created the Cultural Horizons Prize, which goes to the best essay appearing in Cultural Anthropology in the previous year as judged by a jury of doctoral students, to acknowledge the place that graduate students have in shaping our futures. The prize recognizes work that members consider emblematic of where the discipline should be headed. Catherine Fennell won this year's prize for her article "The Museum of Resilience: Raising a Sympathetic Public in Post-Welfare Chicago." In 2009, the SCA inaugurated the Bateson Book Prize, which is decided by an interdisciplinary jury. The 2013 prize went to Elizabeth Anne Davis for her book Bad Souls: Madness and Responsibility in Modern Greece.
Last, and by no means least, the SCA holds its biennial meeting the in spring of even-numbered years, which features workshops, films, and plenary speakers organized around a theme, along with a larger number of volunteered panels. The SCA extends travel stipends to students to create a broad mix of participants. The conferences are intentionally small, housed in older, comfortable hotels, and unfold over two days at a relaxed pace. The 2014 spring meeting on "The Ends of Work" is being organized by Cori Hayden and John Hartigan, and will be held May 9–10 in Detroit, Michigan. The David Schneider Lecture will be jointly delivered by Kathi Weeks and Sylvia Yanagisako, and plenary speakers include Dimitris Papadopolous and Gilberto Rosas. The meeting will also feature the Detroit Roundtable, where local academics and activists will reflect on the conference theme in relation to both their respective projects and the conditions in the city at large.
The SCA benefits immeasurably from the hard work of our outstanding board, including Anne Allison and Charles Piot (journal editors), Jessica Cattelino (treasurer), John Hartigan, Cori Hayden, Brian Larkin, Hirokazu Miyazaki, Nancy Ries, Jonah Rubin (student member), Deb Thomas (secretary), and Kath Weston. Speaking on behalf of the board, let me say that we welcome the opportunity to meet you, so please say hello, and let us know about your work. Our goal is for all who belong to SCA to see themselves as members as well as subscribers.
Marisol de la Cadena, SCA President, January 2014