Conference | Engaging Anthropology - UMass Department of Anthropology 50th Anniversary

Logo of Engaging Anthropology conference: Wordcloud of Anthropological terms
Thursday, October 3, 2019 - 10:00am to Sunday, October 6, 2019 - 5:00pm
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

A crowd at a event by University of Massachusetts Alliance for Community Transformation (UACT)ISSR is proud to co-sponsor the Engaging Anthropology Conference, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Department of Anthropology at UMass Amherst. Registration remains open through the end of September, and all are warmly encouraged to join this important conversation about engaging the present social reality with knowledge of the past, present and future of anthropology.

Please see the conference description below, and find more information about the conference themes, registration procedures, sessions and more at the Engaging Anthropology Conference website.

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.


Thursday, Oct 3 | 4:30 - 6:00 pm | Distinguished Lecturer in the Anthropology of Europe | Hypothetically Speaking: Fictions of Europe at the Margins of Ethnography 

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

Friday, Oct 4 | 1:00 - 3:00 pm | Engaging the Present, Envisioning the Future

  • 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.

Friday, Oct 4 | 4:30 - 6:00 pm | Soldiers and Kings: Visualizing Kinship, Race, and Violence on the Human Smuggling Trail

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

Saturday, Oct 5 | 1:00 - 2:45 pm | Homo naledi and the Chamber of Secrets

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

Saturday, Oct 5 | 7:00 - 9:00 pm | Black Feminism Today

  • Riché J. Daniel Barnes, Dean of Pierson College and Affiliate Professor of Anthropology at Yale University
  • Dana-Ain Davis, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for the Study of Women and Society, Graduate Center, CUNY
  • 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

For more information or questions, please contact the conference planning committee