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Message from NAPA President Tim Wallace

Dear NAPA Friends:

This is just a short note to remind you that our Montreal AAA meetings are really not that far away both temporally and spatially and that we should all think about those sessions and papers we want to present. Carol Hafford is again our Program Chair and she has a reminder note about those invited sessions we want to encourage.

Included in this note is also a call for papers for the 2011 EPIC Conference. Included in this note is also a call for papers for the 2011 EPIC Conference. EPIC has become a wildly successful international phenomenon and I strongly urge you to find out what they are up to (italicized text updated 3/9/11).

There is also in this note a request for more input to the AAA Ethics Task Force and we NAPA members certainly have some strong interest in their outcomes.

Many of you will be going to the SfAA meetings in Seattle the end of this month. Please make it a point to greet each other, and also track me down for a cup of coffee or something stronger to chat and share ideas with each other so we can continue to make our own organization stronger and stronger. One late-breaking piece of news I have for you is that our greatly revamped website should be going live in about a month. Our Communications Committee Chair, Jen Cardew Kersey, has been going and going doing her energizer bunny thing and has really come up with a great, functional design. But, it will always be a work in progress because the content will need to be added with ideas and content from all of you.  The NAPA Chairs, in general, have all been busily at work and the Governing Council is meeting in Seattle to hear about and discuss all the work they have been doing. If you have a moment, drop in on us on Saturday afternoon, April 2, between 1 and 5 to say hello and find out what we are doing.

Finally, later this Spring, the AAA elections ballot will be coming out and several of our members have been nominated for AAA roles and committees, including former NAPA President Shirley Fiske who has been nominated for AAA President!!!!!!  Details on all “our” candidates will be emailed to you as soon as the AAA ballot is ready.

See you soon.

Tim Wallace

President, NAPA 2010-2012

2011 AAA Montreal Meetings Call for Papers

Greetings NAPA community! The AAA has issued the call for Invited Sessions for the 2011 annual meeting. The deadline for submissions is March 15th.  To submit a proposal for an invited session, go to www.aaanet.org and follow the links to the Call for Papers. A session abstract of up to 500 words is required. The theme for this year’s meeting in Montreal is “Traces, Tidemarks, and Legacies.”  NAPA has four credits for Invited Sessions, which means we can feature two single sessions, one double session, or create up to four sessions with co-sponsors! More information about the meeting, and types of sessions and events, is provided in the accompanying brochure.  The NAPA review committee is looking forward to hearing from you. If you have any questions, please contact me at cah18@columbia.edu.   Thank you!

Carol Hafford

NAPA Program Chair

EPiC Conference 2011 (September 18-21) Call for Papers

EPIC is a non-profit group organized to build an international community of anthropologists, planners, architects, and designers of media, technologies, public spaces, services and business organizations to exchange ideas about the value, new practices and advancements in ethnography. EPIC holds an annual conference and publishes the proceedings through NAPA and its partner, Wiley-Blackwell. Each year, about 300 people come from all over for three days of panels, papers, workshops, pecha kucha, and multi-media displays. Our diverse attendees come from large technology companies and small design studios, universities and NGOs, advertising, finance, and healthcare.

For the 2011 Meeting in Boulder (Sept 18-21), we are seeking original, high quality and engaging papers, workshops, artifacts and presentations around the theme of “Evolution/Revolution: change and ethnographic work.”  We are focused this year on the harmonies and disjunctions between the continuous evolution of practice and the pressures of radical disruptions that come from technology, history, economics, and other areas where change is the rule.  We invite theoretical discussions, technical and methodological advances, case studies, standards and practice discussions, and new applications of ethnography that substantially address this year’s conference theme. The contrast between the slow processes of evolution and the sharp, intentionally discontinuous change of revolution offers us an interesting way to approach the substantive concerns of the practice of ethnography and the applications of ethnography worldwide. From social media to social innovation, from product development to change management, from exploratory research to policy implementation, ethnographic praxis is adapting to a new environment, competing for resources, spinning off variations of and transmitting its skills to other fields. We are constantly engaged in a process of imagining change as well as effecting it.  We’d like this year’s material and discussions to focus on the implications of those processes and practices.

For the full Call for Papers, please go to: www.epiconference.com/2011

NAPA members can gain online to all past proceedings, 2005-2010, via Anthrosource, as a benefit of NAPA membership. NAPA members also get a registration discount for the EPIC conference.

AAA Ethics Task Force Call for Comments (Please send me your comments, if you have any,  and I will forward them on to our Ethics Committee Chair, Inga Treitler and to Mary Butler who is working with CoPAPIA on responses to what the AAA Ethics Task Force is doing. You can also send your comments directly to Inga or Mary.)  Note that the Ethics TF is using the idea of “principles” to organize their thinking on it and these will not be the only 4 principles. They are releasing them gradually to solicit wider comments.

*Do no harm*

Anthropologists share a primary ethical obligation to avoid doing harm to the lives, communities or environments they study or that may be impacted by their work.  This includes not only the avoidance of direct and immediate harm but implies an obligation to weigh carefully the future consequences and impacts of an anthropologist’s work on others.  This primary obligation can supersede the goal of seeking new knowledge and can lead to decisions not to undertake or to discontinue a project. Avoidance of harm is a primary ethical obligation, but determining harms and their avoidance in any given situation may be complex.

While anthropologists welcome work benefiting others or increasing the well-being of individuals or communities, determinations regarding what is in the best interests of others or what kinds of efforts are appropriate to increase well-being are complex and value-laden and should reflect sustained discussion with those concerned.  Such work should reflect deliberate and thoughtful consideration of both potential unintended consequences and long-term impacts on individuals, communities, identities, tangible and intangible heritage and environments.


*Balance competing ethical obligations due collaborators and affected


* *Anthropology is an inherently social enterprise, whether in terms of teaching, inquiry, or professional practice.

Anthropologists develop collaborative and often interdependent relationships with, among others, research participants, students, professional colleagues, employers and funders.

These varying relationships may create conflicting, competing or crosscutting ethical obligations, reflecting both the relative vulnerabilities of different individuals, communities or populations, asymmetries of power implicit in a range of relationships, and the differing ethical frameworks of collaborators representing other disciplines or areas of practice.

Anthropologists have an obligation to distinguish the different kinds of interdependencies and collaborations their work involves, and to consider the real and potential ethical dimensions of these diverse and sometimes contradictory relationships, which may be different in character or change over time.  When conflicts between ethical standards or expectations arise, anthropologists should make explicit their ethical obligations, and negotiate an ethical approach. Recognizing that anthropologists work in diverse settings and that research projects are shaped by anthropologists and their collaborators, nevertheless anthropologists remain individually responsible for making ethical decisions.

Collaborations may be defined and understood quite differently by the various participants. The scope of collaboration, rights of the various parties, and issues of credit, acknowledgment and data access should be openly and fairly established at the outset.  Collaborations normally involve compromise, and anthropologists must be sensitive to relationships of power and whether such compromise is freely given.


*Be open and honest regarding your work. Make your results accessible.

*Anthropologists should be clear and open regarding the purpose, methods, outcomes, and sponsors of their work. Anthropologists must also be prepared to acknowledge and disclose to participants and collaborators all tangible and intangible interests that have, or may reasonably be perceived to have, an impact on their work.

Transparency, like informed consent, is a process that involves both making principled decisions prior to beginning the research and encouraging participation, engagement, and open debate throughout its course. Achieving transparency should not conflict with the primary obligation to avoid harm to the individuals, communities, environments, or resources being studied.

In general the results of anthropological research should be made freely available, except in cases where restricted dissemination serves to protect the confidentiality, privacy, safety, and/or dignity of participants, and/or protect cultural heritage or tangible or intangible cultural or intellectual property.  Dissemination of the results of anthropological research to the participants is expected; however, when sharing results with participants is deemed to be inappropriate the reasons must be clearly explained as part of the consent process so that all involved are aware of any reasonable limitations prior to consent.

Research that by design does not allow the anthropologist to know the full scope or purpose of a project (i.e. compartmentalized research ) is ethically problematic, since by definition the anthropologist cannot communicate transparently with participants, nor ensure fully informed consent.  Researchers who mislead participants about the nature of the research and/or its sponsors; who omit significant information that might bear on a participant’s decision to engage in the research; or who otherwise engage in clandestine or secretive research that manipulates or deceives research participants about the sponsorship, purpose, goals or implications of the research, are not fulfilling basic requirements for openness, honesty, transparency and fully informed consent.

* *


*Balance the responsibility to disseminate with its potential consequences*

The results of anthropological research are complex, subject to multiple interpretations and susceptible to differing and unintended uses.

Anthropologists conduct research in order to expand our understanding of lives, histories, cultures, and communities. Thus a general goal is communication of new knowledge in a timely fashion. However, anthropologists have an ethical obligation to consider the potential impact of both their research and the communication or dissemination of the results of their research. Anthropologists should consider this issue prior to beginning research and throughout the research process. Explicit negotiation about dissemination and data access with sponsors/clients may be necessary before deciding whether to begin research.

Anthropologists should not normally withhold research results from research participants when those results are shared with others. There are circumstances, however, where restrictions on disclosure may be appropriate and ethical, such as where participants have been fully informed and have freely agreed to limited dissemination.  In some situations  other kinds of limited dissemination may be appropriate where such restrictions will protect the safety, dignity, or privacy of participants; or protect cultural heritage and/or tangible or intangible cultural or intellectual property.

Proprietary, classified or other research with limited distribution raises complex ethical questions which must be resolved using these ethical principles. Anthropologists must weigh the intended uses of their research and work to evaluate potential uses of their research and the impact of its dissemination now and in the future.

Limited dissemination poses significant risks.  There may be equally great risks associated with dissemination itself.  Once information is disseminated, even in a limited sphere, there is great likelihood that it will become widely available. Thus, anthropologists should consider situations where preventing dissemination may be the most ethical step.

Tim Wallace

Dept. of Sociology & Anthropology

Box 8107, 220 1911 Building

NC State University

Raleigh, NC 27695



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