AAA Presidential Session: Breaking Down Silos in Anthropology

Breaking Down Silos in Anthropology: New Collaboration Models to Improve Integration between Academia and Practice
Thursday, November 21, 2019, 10:15-12:00 noon, Vancouver CC West, Room 213, West Level 2
Organizer: Elizabeth K. Briody Chair: Mary Odell Butler

Anthropology, like many other disciplines, is experiencing growing pains as practicing/professional anthropologists become an ever-larger part of the discipline. In this session, we discuss professional struggles tied to a changing discipline as well as models for creating more room for anthropological diversity, unity, and equity.

The issue is multi-faceted. Anthropological employment patterns reinforce the silos between academia and practice, resulting in uncertainty about the complementarity of the two. Many practicing/ professional anthropologists and those facing employment uncertainty or insecurity feel disconnected from academic anthropologists and from the AAA, leading to AAA membership loss and de-identification of professional anthropologists from the discipline. Consequently, anthropology does not benefit routinely and sufficiently from a collective vision to collaborate across silos and anthropology’s impact on people, communities, and organizations is far less than it could be.

This session explores the potential to bridge the academy-practice silos by integrating both in joint collaborations. The presentations begin with an overview of employment within the AAA membership, followed by a discussion of the relationship between theory and practice in science and the potential role of strong collaborative projects in raising the profile of anthropology in the world. Next, three demonstration projects serve as replicable models for collaboration in our complex, dynamic field.

This session represents a call to action. How will we adopt, adapt, and create new models to develop as a collaborative discipline, using both theory and practice and reaching out to “the other”? We encourage your participation. “We are AAA” and this is our problem to solve.


  • Daniel Ginsberg: The Past, Present and Future of Practitioners in the AAA
  • Suzanne Heurtin-Roberts: Theory, Practice and Knowledge, oh my!
  • Mary Odell Butler: De-Siloing Anthropology: Towards a More Visible Anthropology
  • Elizabeth K. Briody and Robert J. Morais: Business Anthropology on the Road! Driving Practice onto Campus
  • Terry Redding: Early Connections: Creating Space within Service to Engage Students and New Anthropologists
  • Sherri Briller and Zoe Nyssa: A Space for Practice: Building Collaborative Networks of Learners and Practitioners


  • Gillian Tett

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