Engaging Anthropology

University of Massachusetts Anthropology hosts Engaging Anthropology Conference

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ENGAGING ANTHROPOLOGY Conference--UMass Department of Anthropology 50th Anniversary

October 3-6, 2019A crowd at a event by University of Massachusetts Alliance for Community Transformation (UACT)
University of Massachusetts Amherst

1969 was a memorable year.

Humans first walked on the moon; the Miracle Mets won the World Series; Richard Nixon became President; a dairy farm in New York was host to a seminal concert in rock and roll history; and the Anthropology Department at UMass began operations.  

As part of our 50th Anniversary celebrations, the University of Massachusetts Department of Anthropology will hosting a four-day conference in October of this year — Engaging Anthropology. 

At this moment of escalating precarity and deepening inequalities, with climate change threatening life as we know it, how can we use anthropology to help us make sense of these conditions and identify alternatives?

We invite you to join in the conversations around the past, present and future of anthropology.

Conference Activities

University of Massachusetts Anthropology anatomy class

Protesters with a sign that says economic justice=racial justice=immigration justice

We are planning exciting keynotes, some celebratory activities, and we also invite your proposals for events, conversations, and projects that reflect on, honor, and celebrate the rich history and efforts of the department.

Our conference theme, Engaging Anthropology, is meant to highlight our Department’s tradition of engaging with the many challenges of our time. We seek papers, presentations, events, workshops, posters, and other activities that engage the discipline of anthropology in critical dialogue, and mobilize anthropological theory and methods towards transformative practice.

In-line with the department's diversity of approaches and orientations towards research and teaching, sessions and conversations around our theme of Engaging Anthropology might include any of these topics or others you would like to suggest:

University of Massachusetts Anthropology archaeologists at work

  • Bio-Cultural Synthesis
  • New Directions in Archaeology and Social Justice
  • Marxism today
  • Engaged Pedagogy
  • Evolutionary Anthropology
  • Critical Heritage Studies
  • Activism and Organizing
  • Medical Anthropology and Global Health
  • Whiteness and Racism
  • Feminist & Queer Theory’s impact for Anthropology
  • Indigenous Epistemologies & Methods
  • Anthropology of Europe
  • Political Ecology and Environmental Anthropology

Conference Events

Through your proposals we are putting together a number of exciting events that currently include tours, dinners and socials, community engaged workshops, and professional development sessions for students.

We are also planning events that celebrate and reflect on the history of the department.


Distinguished Lecturer in the Anthropology of Europe

Lilith Mahmud, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of California Irvine

Archaeology of the 21st Century

Jason De León, Professor of Anthropology and Chicana/o Studies, University of California, Los Angeles

Black Feminism Today

Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Center, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Amanda Walker Johnson, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Dana-Ain Davis, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for the Study of Women and Society, Graduate Center, CUNY

Riché J. Daniel Barnes, Dean of Pierson College and Affiliate Professor of Anthropology at Yale University


Engaging the Present, Envisioning the Future panel including:

Jodi Dean, Professor of Political Science, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Arturo Escobar, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Stephen Healy, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University and member of the Community Economies Collective.


How Do We Define "Human"?

Jeremy DeSilva, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Dartmouth College



For more information or questions, please contact the conference planning committee. A formal call for papers will be sent in February.