April/May 2009 eNewsletter

  1. Welcome  (Elizabeth Nanas)
  2. On Mary’s Mind (Mary Odell Butler)
  3. NAPA Occupational Therapy Special Interest Group Update (Amy Paul-Ward, Gelya Frank)
  4. Designing an Anthropology Career (Sherylyn H. Briller, Amy Goldmacher)
  5. Volunteer Opportunities
  6. News from the Program Chair (Carol Hafford)
  7. Conference Announcements
  8. NAPA Student Achievement Award
  9. WAPA 2009 Praxis Award CFP

This issue marks the beginning of a newly designed Newsletter that includes regular features and also provides fresh opportunities for NAPA members to engage in conversations that contribute not only to professional development, but that also cross boundaries to challenge the borders of practicing anthropologies.

We understand that too much content can become an unwelcome chore, and we will strive to create a balance between expanding our Newsletter while maintaining a reasonable product that does not overwhelm. Your ideas and feedback will be essential in negotiating this balance.

Over the next year, we will experiment with new columns and we seek your contributions in shaping this mediated production.

The NAPA e-Newsletter will continue to be published bi-monthly and sent to you through a link that may be downloaded through http://www.practicinganthropology.org/. Regular columns will include Mary Odell-Butler’s “On Mary’s Mind,” AAA-related news and announcements, a Local Practitioner Organization highlight, a product or book review, and announcement of events and conferences. If you represent an LPO, have a product or book you would like to review, or know of any upcoming events that would be of interest to our readers, please do not hesitate to contact me at: napaenews@gmail.com.

I hope that you will enjoy the new design and the expanded content of this Newsletter. I look forward to providing you with a resource that is timely, of interest, and useful to your applied projects.

NAPA’s e-Newsletter is edited by Elizabeth Nanas. Ideas & submissions may be addressed to her at:

Wayne State University
College of Engineering – IME
4815 Fourth Street, Room 2033
Detroit, MI 48202
Phone: 313-205-8595 (cell/text) E-Mail: napaenews@gmail.com

As you read this issue, please consider its strengths and opportunities for improvement. Do you love it? Do you hate it? I hope to hear from you regarding your ideas, rants, and raves. With your involvement, we can transform our e-Newsletter and our section into a quality production that will enhance our practice and push the boundaries of our discipline. I look forward to working with you all in developing this vision.

Sincerely, Elizabeth Nanas NAPA e-News Editor

On Mary’s Mind
Having survived my first Governing Council Meeting as President of NAPA, I returned from Santa Fe with much to share about my experience. The SfAA meeting was well-attended considering the economic challenges we are all facing—within our professional organizations and within the Academy. It is always invigorating to have the privilege of taking part in so many activities—the stimulating discussions, the parties, the old and new friends, the restaurants, the city, the sunshine. When I got back to Washington, it was winter and I was reminded of the day-to-day work of developing and promoting our section.

As always, our General Council Meeting experienced minor glitches and these complications certainly helped me think about the opportunities and challenges ahead. Often taken for granted, food service was not made available at our meeting site and our ever-faithful Council would have likely passed out had it not been for the attention of SfAA’s Executive Director, Tom May. Adding to our troubles, we couldn’t figure out how to get the conference phone to stay on the line and electrical problems posed an obstacle to the use of laptops—a necessary tool that has become a staple of planning, organization, and strategy. And, of course, there was too much on the agenda …nothing like one’s first ever GC Meeting as President to keep one humble. Nevertheless, I am encouraged by the energy of our GC. Of particular importance, we adopted a new format for the Governing Council Meeting with longer discussions of issues that are important for us rather than reporting on what we have already done. This brought up many new directions for NAPA’s development as well as innovative opportunities for NAPA as a whole in terms of mentoring, increasing our membership, and encouraging new voices within our leadership.

As one of the large number of us who had little help in figuring out how to become a practitioner, I think that mentoring is one of the most important things we do. It’s hard to figure out a lot of the job skills we need when we’re still in school. NAPA needs to provide continuous mentoring to new professionals while establishing good referral and on-line services to undergraduate anthropology students and the general public. I will be appointing a Task Force on Mentoring to be headed by Tom Greaves to build ideas for our mentor program. Interested? Let me know: maryobutler@verizon.net

We brainstormed ways to increase our membership by offering special kinds of membership to special kinds of people. We talked about special rates for unemployed anthropologists, part-time anthropologists, retired anthropologists and those who already belong to other AAA sections. We thought of ways to get the message out about what we do and to be more attractive to new members by improving our services to them. The Membership Committee, led by Micki Iris, will be developing recommendations for the GC and Business Meetings to be held in Philadelphia. Got ideas? Contact Micki at miris@northwestern.edu

My own history has led me to choose leadership development as my personal project for my presidency. I became a practitioner when I was denied tenure in an academic department. I was angry at “anthropology” and stayed away from the Academy for eight years until Ed Liebow, my colleague at Battelle, dragged me back to the AAA meetings. I was fairly doubtful about this involvement at first, but then I started to make friends in a new kind of anthropology— an anthropology with stakeholders who I could identify with and with whom I could share experiences, ideas, and visioning. A couple of years later, I asked someone what I should do to become more involved. “Volunteer for something,” she said. So I did. And I have never been lonely or bored at meetings again.

In the next year and a half, I would like all of us who are part of NAPA to reach out to enlarge the group of NAPA members who are part of the leadership. I will be approaching some of you directly, but I don’t know everyone. If you’ve ever thought in the rosy glow of meeting time that you would like to be more involved, this is the time. Volunteer for something. NAPA needs you. And, I promise you won’t regret it.

In the meantime, enjoy the springtime. Be back in June. Until Next Time,

Mary Odell Butler, NAPA President


Update from NAPA-Occupational Therapy Special Interest Group: Linkages and Bridges
Amy Paul-Ward, Ph.D., MSOT, Florida International University
Gelya Frank, Ph.D., University of Southern California

The Occupational Therapy & Occupational Science Interdisciplinary Special Interest Group was organized in 2006 as a part of the American Anthropological Association, National Association for the Practice of Anthropology. The NAPA-OT SIG includes individuals from a wide range of disciplines interested in issues related to health, well-being, disability, social justice, occupation, participation, and rehabilitation. “Occupation” refers to meaningful and purposeful activity related to health and well-being across the lifespan, for individuals, families, communities and populations.

One of the primary objectives of the NAPA-OT SIG is to build alliances and collaborations between anthropology and occupational therapy and occupational science. An area of particular interest to the group is exploring the feasibility of developing interdisciplinary and cross-training programs in occupational therapy and anthropology. A special theme issue of Practicing Anthropology 30 (3) (Summer 2008), edited by NAPA-OT SIG members Pamela Block, Gelya Frank and Ruth Zemke, focused on “Anthropology/Occupational Therapy/Disability Studies: Collaborations and Prospects.” Contributors included Pamela Block and Eva Rodriguez, Rachel Thibeault and Michèle Hébert, Yda J. Smith and Sarah Munro, Margaret A. Perkinson, Devva Kasnitz and others.

Building linkages will be furthered by the NAPA-OT Field School in Antigua, Guatemala, project that will launch this summer (http://www.proyectovision.net/images/NAPA-OT-Flyer.pdf). The goal of the six-week field school (July 6-August 14, 2009) is to provide a setting where anthropologists and occupational therapists can study, practice and learn together in an international setting focusing on social justice. The field school will partner with the NGO Common Hope (www.commonhope.org) and its curriculum will allow students to engage in research and/or hands-on practice in local institutional contexts focused on child development, provision of services to older adults, and community based disability studies/disability rights.

In the area of cross-training, several NAPA-OT SIG members are exploring the feasibility of graduate-level training programs to enable doctoral students in anthropology to pursue clinical degrees in occupational therapy as part of their studies. This undertaking is significant in that there are currently more occupational therapy faculty positions than qualified individuals to fill them. Both anthropology and occupational therapy are holistic in their approaches to understanding human experience. Moreover many anthropologists are already actively engaging in meaningful research issues that are fundamental to occupational science and occupational therapy (e.g., phenomenological accounts of the disability experience, socioeconomic, political and cultural influences of occupation and well being, etc).

Our short term goal is to develop awareness and institutional links or programs to bring Ph.D. and MA level anthropologists into occupational therapy to fill faculty roles and develop new forms of practice that are already emerging. Some of the topics with ongoing collaborations include:

• How disability affected and is affected by gender;

• Sexuality of persons with disability and cultural norms;

• Clinical processes that hinder or facilitate cooperation;

• Intersection of technology and accessibility;

• Limits of clinical measurement instruments to capture occupational change;

• What may be defined as ‘success’ in occupation;

• Intersections of ethnography or ‘thick description’ of clinical practices;

• Organization of rehabilitation services that respect familial, cultural and spiritual dimensions of being;

• Social policy implications of empirical studies;

• Migration, refugee status and dis-abling immigration policies of states.

At the recent Society for Applied Anthropology Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, members of our group organized and presented 12 sessions on issues related to Occupational Therapy, Occupational Science, Anthropology, and Disability Studies. See program (www.sfaa.net) for titles, presenters and affiliations. Among the non-clinically oriented sessions was a double panel on Indigenous Partnerships in a Global Setting: Public Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, Sustainable Tourism, and Occupational Science,” organized by archaeologist and Chair of Native American Studies, Joe E. Watkins (U Oklahoma; Japan-based archaeologists Mark Hudson (U West Kyushu) and Hirofumi KATO (U Hokkaido); and anthropologist and occupational scientist Gelya Frank. The session included, among others, a paper on occupation-based tourism in Cape Town, South Africa, by Frank Kronenberg and a discussion by Dikaios Sakellariou. Both are occupational therapy activists and co-editors of the ground-breaking books: Occupational Therapy without Borders (Elsevier, 2006) and A Political Practice of Occupational Therapy (Elsevier, 2008) (www.elsevier.com/wps/find/bookdescription.cws_home/716364/description#description).

The growing number of sessions at SfAA is fostering meaningful and intellectually-driven conversations among members in the United States and Canada and abroad. During the annual business meeting at SfAA, new officers Amy Paul-Ward (Florida International University) and Jyothi Gupta (College of St. Catherine) were selected to serve as Co-chairs for a two-year term. Special thanks to Founding Co-chairs Gelya Frank (U Southern California) and Karen Barney (Saint Louis U) for establishing and guiding the group for its first two years.

Gelya Frank (gfrank@usc.edu) continues as Director of the NAPA-OT Field School and as NAPA-OT SIG Program Chair to assist and mentor organizers of sessions for upcoming conferences at SfAA. She has been invited to give a plenary lecture on Occupational Science at the upcoming special conference, “Medical Anthropology at the Intersections: Celebrating 50 Years of Interdisciplinarity” at Yale University, New Haven, CT, September 24-27, 2009 (www.yale.edu/macmillan/smaconference). Other plenary speakers include Paul Farmer, Didier Fassin, Arthur Klenman, Lynn Morgan, Emily Martin, Annemarie Mol, Margaret Lock, Barbara Koenig, Merrill Singer, Rayna Rapp, Richard Parker and Lawrence Cohen.

Margaret Perkinson (Saint Louis U) will serve as the liaison between the NAPA-OT SIG and the NAPA Governing Council. Devva Kasnitz (U California, Berkeley) will oversee the development and maintenance of a moderated listserve to facilitate communication among the membership (NAPAOTOS@YAHOOGROUPS.COM). To join, send an email to devva@earthlink.net.


Envisioning and Re-envisioning an Anthropology Career Over Time
Sherylyn H. Briller, Ph.D., Wayne State University
Amy Goldmacher, Ph.D.c., Wayne State University

Developing and furthering one’s career can be exciting, challenging and, at times, intimidating. We would like to introduce our new book entitled Designing an Anthropology Career: Professional Development Exercises, to the practitioner community as a resource for anthropological career development at any level.

The book is divided into two sections: Part I establishes a framework for continually thinking about how to design a career in anthropology or other related fields. Part II contains a series of professional development exercises to help anthropologists at various career stages articulate their personal and professional histories, unique abilities, and career goals. Each customizable exercise is followed by an example to provide models for anthropologists to complete their own exercises. The exercises are the tools to choose the best next steps in their careers and to imagine an evolving anthropology career as a lifetime endeavor.

While this book was originally conceived to be used by students, the exercises have been field-tested by practitioners and found to have utility for them as well. The book’s approach relies on the concept of the life course and applies it to careers. Using the life course concept makes this book relevant to anthropological practitioners who may be constantly rethinking and re-envisioning their own careers as they respond to the demands of the changing workplace in general and particularly in this economic climate. The life course is a powerful concept for thinking about the culture-specific ways in which the stages, activities, and transitions in individuals’ lives and the social lives of groups occur. Practitioners are well aware that the overall nature of 21st century work life is changing. People are working longer, and in more settings than ever before, and are not necessarily retiring. Trends such as less job security, underemployment, more competition, and more career changes over time have resulted in a need to rethink what work means to people over their life courses (Gamst 1995). A significant perk of a non-linear career path, such as many anthropologists have, is that it may provide greater flexibility to navigate and make changes in direction. This aspect can indeed be critical in having a fulfilling work life over time.

Whether you are a seasoned practitioner or a student graduating with an anthropology degree, there is an art to taking a series of seemingly unrelated jobs and experiences and creating a coherent anthropological career out of an eclectic background. Although we know from firsthand experience that doing this is possible, it will require you to highlight for potential employers how your prior skills and broad background will be a significant advantage in their particular work situation. Successful anthropological practitioners do this already, and we recommend consistently rethinking and re-envisioning an anthropological career over time. The exercises in our book are a way to do this.

We use the metaphor of weaving to illustrate the concept of bringing together the variety of skills and experiences in one’s background to create a coherent career story. Through the exercises in the book, you will weave together the threads of your background and create a beautiful tapestry out of it, however large or small it may be. This tapestry with all its intricate and different threads is your masterpiece, and you should be proud of how you have woven it together over time. It may not have been created in a linear or orderly fashion; it may include sections that you ripped out and rewove into a different pattern. The important thing to recognize is that there is a pattern in the entirety of your discrete experiences, and the tapestry that is created out of the various strands of your experience is how you demonstrate your abilities for the next work opportunity.

Further, we draw on the networks and communities of anthropologists who have blazed career trails and done what might have seemed unusual or impossible before, entering new realms where this type of hire was never previously considered. These exercises help create strategies for oneself and others to find those who have created a career path similar to what you want to do. Connecting with others and hearing their stories about how they got their jobs and created their careers can be very insightful at any stage of career development (e.g., Guerron-Montero 2008, Wasson 2006.)

We believe this book is a valuable resource for practitioners who work across disciplinary boundaries, who mentor or provide career counseling and development, those who teach in anthropology or liberal arts disciplines at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and of course, students. We invite your comments.

The book can be found at Amazon.com at  http://tinyurl.com/c25eoc, at the publisher’s website at http://tinyurl.com/d4te36, and at other retail outlets.


Gamst, F. C. 1995. “Considerations of Work,” in Meanings of Work: Considerations for the Twenty-First Century. Edited by F. C. Gamst, pp. 1-45. Albany: State University of New York press.

Guerron-Montero, C. Editor. 2008. Careers in Applied Anthropology: Advice from Practitioners and Academics. Vol. 29: National Association for the Practice of Anthropology.

Wasson, C. Editor. 2006. Making History at the Frontier: Women Creating Careers as Practicing Anthropologists. Vol. 26: National Association for the Practice of Anthropology.

APA Needs Your Involvement!
Do you have ideas to build on the success of our mentoring program? Please join our Task Force on Mentoring by contacting NAPA President, Mary Odell Butler at:  maryobutler@verizon.net.

The NAPA section of the AAA needs to expand our membership in order to receive additional invited sessions at the AAA meetings. To help us develop recommendations and actions for the Membership Committee, contact NAPA’s Membership Committee Chair, Micki Iris at:  miris@northwestern.edu.

We need your involvement to grow NAPA and to ensure that we will develop future leaders and visionaries to champion the practice of anthropology.

We also need your contributions to develop this Newsletter. Do you have a story or an idea to share with us that will help your colleagues in their practice? Have you read a book, subscribed to a journal or magazine, or used a product that has enhanced your work? Do you know about a conference or an event that we should publicize? Let us know what you’d like to see here by sending Elizabeth Nanas an email at:  NAPAeNews@gmail.com.

Picture cropped and altered from “We Want You” by Caia Dominicus. Source:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/caido89/281254496/


News from the Program Chair
Carol Hafford, Ph.D., James Bell Associates

The full program for the 2009 AAA Meeting in Philadelphia is currently under development, but we do have some news to share about the Invited Sessions. NAPA is very pleased to be co-sponsoring two timely and practice-oriented sessions, and will also feature an Invited Roundtable. In the coming months, NAPA will select another Invited

Session based on the volunteered abstracts, as well as recommend additional panels and papers for inclusion. We are looking forward to developing the full program and thank all those who have submitted abstracts for NAPA to review. Here’s a brief look at what’s planned so far:

Teaming with the Society for Medical Anthropology, NAPA will co-sponsor “The Lived Experience of Health Research Ethics: Negotiation of Guidelines into Practice.” This session, organized by Margaret Perkinson of St. Louis University and the NAPA-Occupational Therapy Field School in Guatemala, will explore the process of negotiation of research ethics guidelines into everyday practice. This occurs amidst a mix of players who differ in discipline, language, ethnicity/nationality, power, and/ or priorities. Applied/ medical anthropologists who study a wide variety of ethically-contested health-related topics and vulnerable populations in both U.S. and international settings will discuss their experiences with and resolutions of issues such as informed consent, confidentiality, and protection of research data. The session will provide an opportunity for dialogue to identify problematic issues and articulate a working code of ethics that is amenable to the world of practice.

Along with Central States Anthropological Society, NAPA will co-sponsor “The End/s of an Era in Detroit: Refiguring Anthropological Research and Training in a 21st Century Post Industrial Urban Context. The session addresses the Presidential theme regarding “The End/s of Anthropology,” and speaks to the imperative of reframing anthropological training and research in a world of global flows of peoples, artifacts, and representations. As aptly noted by the session organizer, Sherylyn Briller of Wayne State University, the majority of anthropology graduates work outside of academia, and will likely continue to do so in the future. What does this mean in terms of student preparation and training to be engaged in the institutions and activities of the contemporary world, for the field as a whole, as well as in specific local contexts? The panel will consider current anthropological training in the Detroit region, a post-industrial urban setting, where the effects of the global economic crisis are particularly salient.

NAPA rounds out the program with an Invited Roundtable discussion on “Innovation and the Anthropology of the Future,” organized by Christine Miller of the Savannah College of Art and Design and Julia Gluesing of Wayne State University. This session will continue a dialogue begun at previous meetings regarding innovation and change related to applied anthropology in a variety of organizational contexts. The discussants will explore approaches, both theoretical and methodological, to investigating collective action and the nature of organizing in communities of different kinds (public, private, formal, informal, business, scientific, religious, etc.) that are linked and mediated by technologies.

Upcoming Conference Announcements:

Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference
Chicago, IL USA, August 30 – September 2, 2009. For details, see:  http://www.epic2009.com/

International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences
University of Athens, Greece, July 8 – 11, 2009. For details, see:  http://i09.cg-conference.com/

Medical Anthropology at the Intersections: Celebrating 50 Years of Interdisciplinarity
Yale U, New Haven, CT USA, September 24 – 27, 2009. For details, see:  http://www.yale.edu/macmillan/smaconference/

American Anthropological Association
Philadelphia, PA USA, December 2 – 6, 2009. For details, see:  http://aaanet.org/meetings/

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