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Pan African Association of Anthropology

Pan African Anthropology Association

Selamawit Hailemariam * Posted May 1999

Focus and Goals:The Pan African Anthropology Association has committed itself to solving Africa’s political and economic problems.

Organization Websitehttp://www.upe.ac.za/paaa/

Total Membership in 1999: 450

Type of Organization: The Pan African Anthropological Association (PAAA) is a national and international organization of academics and practitioners.

Date founded: 1989

Newsletter or Journal: African Anthropology, http://www.ajol.info/journal_index.php?jid=136

Annual Membership fees: ordinary member $25, associate member $30, students member $15

Affiliation with other groups:Association for Anthropology in Southern Africa (AASA).  The PAAA looks for financial assistance from various foreign institutions, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) , the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the United Nations Population Fund

Listserve or other internet resources: Ethno-net Africa,http://www.unesco.org/most/p95intro.htm

Contact Address:
Executive Secretary

PAAA/ I-CASSRT
PO Box 1862 yaounde, Cameroon
tel-(237) 223-42-27
fax-(237) 222-18-73
mailto:icassrt@caminet.cm

 

Prizes, Projects, or other Special Programs
At the present time, EthnoNet project is PAAA’s focus. It involves monitoring and evaluating ethnic conflicts in Africa. African social scientist (anthropologists, sociologists, lawyers, human rights specialists and political scientists) are looking to study, and monitor and evaluate ethnic conflicts in order to provide “early warning” signs of conflicts. 25 African counters will participate to serve as guides in the project, in the efforts to build an information database, which is predicted to be establishing over the years. Ethno-Net plans to communicate its research findings through its bimonthly newsletter and web-site (Paul Nkwi 1998: 2).
A Brief History of Pan African Anthropology Association (PAAA)

Some of the fundamental differences between schools of anthropology is due to differences in historical discourse.  American anthropology and Pan African anthropology may have similar interests, however the latter has chosen to redefine anthropology from its own paradigm. In doing so, the PAAA has committed itself to solving Africa’s political and economic difficulties. Anthropology in the United States was becoming a promising profession as early as the 18th century. Contemporary British Anthropology experienced similar growth.  Historically in the early years of the PAAA, the association worked to restore the respectability and image of anthropology in the continent of Africa. Anthropology was not respected or trusted until as late as the 1980s. The colonial environment from which anthropology emerged stigmatized the field. As a result African scholars and policy makers have been apprehensive when dealing with the discipline.

The Pan African Anthropology Association was founded in 1989 in Yaounde, Cameroon. It is not to be mistaken for the African Anthropology Association, founded in 1991, which functions under the American Anthropology Association. It should be understood that the PAAA is a body that represents six different anthropological networks. The establishment of the PAAA, according to Paul Nkwi, was partly a response to the indifference or dissatisfaction of the Council for African Sociologist and Anthropologist, which was grounded in 1988 in Africa. Interestingly as American Anthropology Association dominated the academic circles of the West emphasizing theory concocting and academic publications; the PAAA was establishing itself both by promoting an Afrocentric anthropology but and by engineering theories which were modeled within a framework intended for application. In the words of Dr. Nkwi, the director of the PAAA, African anthropology did not look to formulate theory for the sake of theory, but in terms of their functional use.

About the Pan African Anthropology Association (PAAA)
As an institution that looks to applied anthropology, the PAAA has emphasized the distinction between teaching and training in anthropology.  The objectives of the PAAA focus on fostering interactions among teachers and research in the subfields of anthropology. It also works to promote research in related disciplines, and to stimulate and coordinate regional and interdisciplinary research.  Consequently the PAAA looks to workshops to train upcoming anthropologists and engineer research skills necessary to be applied in the real world. The PAAA works to research and remedy issues or problems within the areas of health, population, environment and city planning. The association and the six research networks together confront the issues that Africa and its people face. These units are the Network of African Medical Anthropologists (NAMA), the Network of African Population Anthropologists (NAPA), the Network of African Environmental Anthropologists (NAEA), the Network of African Women Anthropologists (NAWA), the Network of African Students in Anthropology (NASA) and Ethno-Net Africa (ENA).  According to Paul Nkwi, “these networks are designed not only to develop the theoretical basis of their respective fields, also to link theory with practice in the form of action oriented approach” (Paul Knwi 1998: 204). Currently, Ethno-Net Africa is focused on monitoring and evaluating ethnic conflicts in Africa. African social scientists (anthropologists, sociologists, lawyers, human rights specialists and political scientists) are looking to study, and monitor and evaluate ethnic conflicts in order to provide “early warning” signs of conflicts (Paul Nkwi 1998: 2).

The PAAA operates and has established both local and foreign relations. Within Africa the PAAA maintains strong ties with the Association for Anthropology in Southern Africa (AASA).  The PAAA looks for financial assistance from various foreign institutions, such as the Wenner Gren Foundation, the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) (Nkwi 1998: 204). African Anthropology is the journal of the PAAA and has been published biannually since 1994. The Journal contains scholarly articles, research reports, and book reviews.  According to the editorial remarks, the first of the journal’s main goals is the provision of a medium for intellectual, theoretical and methodological discussions among PAAA members. Secondly, the role of this journal is to meet the increased demands of the African anthropological community for a journal that will reflect an African perspective. Thirdly, the journal should provide a forum for the publication of the best papers presented during its annual conferences (J.A.R Wembah-Rashid 1992: 1). However, Dr. Nkwi points out that publication of this journal is not without problems. Only 15% of the 540 members pay their annual dues, making it virtually impossible to operate consistently on a restricted budget.   80% of the PAAA members are in Africa, while only 10% are from the U.S and Europe.

The PAAA has its next annual conference on September 2 through the 8, 1999, in Yaounde, Cameroon. The theme of the conference is The Anthropology of Africa and the Challenges of the Third Millennium. A number of panels will be organized around the following themes: An African Anthropology: Is there such sub-discipline? High Fertility in Africa: An Anthropological Response; The re-awakening of ethnic nations: Ethnicity and Nation-state; After Rio, where are the people?; Environmental Policy Contradictions; Years of Structural Adjustment: Gender and the Quality of Health; The African Family: Emerging Trends and new demands; and Training anthropologists of the future: The teaching of the discipline.