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Council on Anthropology and Education

Council on Anthropology and Education

Anna Governale *Posted May 1999

Focus and Goals: To promote an anthropological perspective on educational context and practice.

Organization Website: http://www.aaanet.org/cae/index.htm

Total Membership in 1999: 865

Type of Organization: CAE is a national organization. Members must be in good standing of the AAA membership. They may be academics and practitioners from the fields of Anthropology and Education as well as any other related field.

Essential Information

Date founded: 1968

Newsletter or Journal: CAE has a column on the AN. The main publication is Anthropology & Education Quarterly. http://www.aaanet.org/cae/AEQ.html, a scholarly journal published by the American Anthropological Association. According to the Journal Citation Reports, 1997 of the “Social Sciences Edition”. CD-ROM A&EQ had 246 total cites. Members are now announcing a new electronic magazine of multicultural children. http://www.eastern.edu/publications/emme

Annual Membership fees: Professional: $130.00, Associate:$77.00, Student: $47.00
Affiliation with other groups: Since its origins, some members of CAE have participated to the AERA meetings (American Educational Research Association) making a significant impact. A small sample of members have been affiliated to: Society for Applied Anthropology; American Evaluation Association; National Council of Teachers of English; American Educational Research Association; National Council for the Social Studies, American Association of University Women; American Sociological Association; Eastern Communication Association; International Communication Association; New York State Communication Association; National Communication Association; Strategies for Media Literacy; Southern Anthropology Society; Society for Applied Anthropology; AAA: General Anthropology Division, Archeology Division, Association for Feminist Anthropology, American Ethnological Society, Society for Linguistic Anthropology;

Listserve: The CAE members’ list serve was created in 1997 as a vehicle of communication between CAE members. This list is confidential and is available only to members of CAE.

Contact: Jan Nespor mailto:nespor@vt.edu

In the same year the CAE graduate student server was created. There are 57 graduate students subscribed to the CAE graduate student server, as well as 10 professors.

Contact: Brinton S. Ramsey mailto:bsr2008@columbia.edu

Prizes, Projects, or other Special Programs

Prizes: 1) The Spindler Award 2) The CAE Dissertation Award 3) The Ethnographic Evaluation Award.

Special Programs

CAE sponsors an institute/program for teachers as part of its annual meeting. CAE is interested in getting anthropology into the K-12 curriculum and believes that, in order to do so, teachers have to be introduced to topics, methods, and sample teaching materials.
Special Program designed to bring more minority scholars into CAE – money to pay AAA meeting expenses for 1-2 minority scholars each year.
Special poster session for graduate students or people in their first job to showcase their work and to help them meet members of CAE and attend meeting sessions.

A Brief History of the Council on Anthropology and Education
The Council of Anthropology and Education was founded in 1968 at the 67th AAA meeting in Seattle. Even though CAE history began thirty years ago, its tradition is much older. The 1st volume of the Council on Anthropology and Education Newsletter (which became the Anthropology & Education Quarterly in 1973) contains constitution and by-laws of CAE. In that issue, John Singleton traces the interest of American anthropologists in educational problems, practices and institutions back to the work of Edgar I. Hewett (1904-5).

It is worth mentioning Kathleen deMarrais’ ongoing Historical Archives Project. She is collecting information about the CAE history, from the CAE’s members. Some of the information for this brief history is based on the work that Kathleen deMarrais has kindly shared with me. Her document opens with an excerpt from Eddy (1985) on, what he calls, the formative years: 1925-1954. Anthropologists as diverse as Gregory Bateson, Ruth Benedict, Franz Boas, John Dollard, John Embree, E. E. Evans-Pritchard, Raymond Firth, Meyer Fortes, John Gillin, Alexander Goldenweiser, Felix Keesing, Melville Herskivoits, H. Ian Hogbin, Ralph Linton, Bronislaw Malinowki, Margaret Mead, Siegfried Nadel, Morris Opler, Hortense Powdermaker, Paul Radin, Robert Tedfield, Audrey Richards, Edward Sapir, Laura Thompson, W. Lloyd Warner, Mark Hanna Watkins, Camilla Wedgewood, John Whiting, Monica Wilson, and others were engaged in research related to formalized systems of education and enculturation of the child.

Frederick Erickson remarks that “After World War II, ethnographers began to turn directly to issues of education, under the leadership of Spindler (1955) at Stanford and Kimball (1974) at teachers College, Columbia”. (1986: Qualitative methods in research on teaching. In M.C. Wittrock (ed.) Handbook of Research on Teaching (3rd ed., pp.119-161) No doubts that the “ancestors” of anthropology of education are people who played and still play a fundamental and influential role in the discipline at large.

In 1974 Jacquetta Burnett Hill published an annotated bibliography of anthropology and education, as proposed by CAE in 1972. In her foreword she writes “many references from the early decades of this century serve to emphasize that education and culture transmission have a long history of interest for ethnographers”.

In 1984 CAE merged with the American Anthropological Association. This decision led to a change in the organization’s bylaws; since 1986 the president of CAE has been elected for a two year term. 1984 was also the year when the Anthropology & Education Quarterly celebrated their 15th anniversary, an occasion for some considerations about the history of the field. George Spindler and John Singleton have been active members and leaders of CAE since its origins. In A&EQ 1984 vol. 15, they recall the fundamental concerns shared by the “originators” of the CAE, during the 1952 Carmel Valley Ranch meeting, as well as a vivid description of the discussions that took place in Seattle in 1968.

Where is CAE going? This year Evelyn Jacob began her presidency of CAE. In the AN column (Vol. 40 Number 1, January 99) she states her goal: “expand linkages with educational practitioners and with larger educational policy discussions.” The Council on Education and Anthropology today, like thirty years ago, is a professional organization committed to institutionalize the “natural” link between anthropology and education. The new president focuses on reaching out and consolidating CAE. She talks about attracting new members, using the web as a media for communication and information, and building on the success achieved with the K-12 workshops within the AAA.

About the Council on Anthropology and Education
The Council on Anthropology and Education is a well-established network for researchers who work in these two fields. The Council maintains officers in the positions of President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. Since 1986, CAE has been composed of 12 committees. Click Here for a map of those committees.

The CAE members meet once a year during the AAA meeting. They have a business meeting during which each committee shares topics for the following years papers with all the members of the organization. The CAE’s Saturday-night business meetings are a popular tradition. CAE member Jane Jensen has said of the meeting “This is a great event for finding out what each committee is working on, what the newsletter editor is looking for, and there’s usually an award speech. I’ve been able to meet some people at this function I’d only seen in print.” (personal communication, March 2, 1999). The annual meeting is indeed an occasion for professionals to meet and discuss their projects; but it also offers a unique setting for graduate students to experience contact with the field of anthropology and education.

“The graduate student forum for CAE and the server began when Lisa Rosen and I met at AAA in 1996. […] I proposed the idea of a session for graduate students to Evelyn Jacob and Fred Hess, who thought it would be a great idea, and might be even better if the session would serve as an intro to the CAE community also.” (Timothy Edward Mahoney, personal communication, March 4, 1999)

Although attending the AAA annual meeting can be an overwhelming experience, with the number of participants involved and sessions to attend leading you to wonder whether the world needs yet another anthropologist, the members of CAE knows how to make you feel at home. “The annual ‘Matriarch’s Dinner’ I find very unusual in professional associations. CAE members have a Matriarch’s Dinner every year, on the Sat. night of the annual meeting — women take their graduate students and former students, usually women they have brought into CAE through co-presenting papers, committee involvement. Lots of mentoring goes on, lots of meeting the women who wrote your ethnography/qualitative research textbooks.” (10 Feb 1999, Lynn Smith, personal communication). Personally, I enjoyed the support of women during the meeting in Washington. They helped me to make the best out of my attendance to AAA. They introduced me to other scholars and researchers whose work was relevant to my interests. As an apprentice I was wondering (and still am) how am I going ever be one of “them”. Although nobody can tell you how you will become an educational anthropologist, I had the reassuring feeling that my role as an apprentice had its own value for the time being.

According to the CAE guide to offerings in Anthropology, the nine universities offering courses for graduate and undergraduate students are leading institutions. It can not be argued that anthropology of education is a marginal sub-field, however, it is important to note that courses are offered primarily through departments of education rather than in anthropology. My minor advisor, an anthropologist working in the school of education and an active member of CAE, told me he thinks it would be very beneficial for the students if the two departments worked in a more collaborative fashion. As a professional anthropologist, he does not necessarily share the same perspective of his colleagues at the school of education, but, in the meantime, he cannot consider himself a member of the anthropologists’ community at IU given the lack of opportunities to interact and work together. (Bradley Levinson, personal communication, Feb 2, 1999). For this reason the Council of Anthropology and Education is a very important institution for scholars, researchers and students who do not feel perfectly among their people in their departments. “CAE became the intellectual home I was missing at IU.” (Jane Mc.E. Jensen, personal communication, March 2, 1999).

From my personal experience and from my conversation with other members, I learned that the CAE is a good place to gather with scholars and practitioners who work in different fields, but who share a long tradition of interdisciplinary expansion and integration.

See also an analysis of linkages between Anthropology and Education departments and practitioners through time and space.


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