ASSOCIATION FOR FEMINIST ANTHROPOLOGY
Association for Feminist Anthropology (AFA)
Asli Baykal * Posted May 1999
Focus and Goals: The goals of AFA according to Article II of Bylaws are to foster development of feminist analytic perspectives in all dimensions of anthropology; to facilitate communication among feminist anthropologists and between them and feminist scholars in other related fields; to provide information on issues related to gender differences and to gender-based discrimination to the discipline and the public; and to encourage integration of feminist research from the different subfields of anthropology and to bring the focal concerns of feminist anthropology into the development of the subdisciplines.
Organization Website: http://sscl.berkeley.edu/~afaweb/
Prizes, Projects, or other Special Programs
Thus, the Association tries to be diverse and inclusive. However, it has not been possible to obtain information on the composition of membership, and therefore, it is hard to figure out the extent of diversity within AFA. The current AFA Board is mainly composed of sociocultural anthropologists and archaeologists The current Chair is an archaeologist. There is a bioanthropologist and a linguistic anthropologist on the Board. The Board members are all academics. Most of them are employed in anthropology departments. A few of them are in Women’s Studies and International Studies departments. One of the Board members is at College of Medicine and another is at the Department of Public Health Sciences.
Major Issues Discussed
The major issues for AFA are reproductive rights; sexuality; lesbian and transgender issues; corporeality; international, non-Western feminism; globalization; political economy; women and development; women in resistance and women refugees; social movements, particularly environmentalism and ecofeminism; the study of intersection of race, class, gender and sexuality; capitalism; social and economic justice; women and poverty; women and welfare; domestic violence; and women and health. The Association, in fact, has yearly themes. The theme of 1997 was black feminist anthropology, and those of 1998 were pedagogy and population. For 1999, media has been suggested by some members to discuss the uses and abuses in the media, portrayal of feminists/feminist anthropologists in the media, utilizing the media to reach a wider audience, and portrayal of women in general.
According to a survey made in 1998, members stated diversity, i.e. the inclusion of women of color, archaeologists, physical anthropologists, and linguists as their concern. Some members demanded more and better jobs in the academy and an end to the exploitation of adjunct lecturers. The need to improve the standing of women in the discipline, to fight male bias, and to get more women tenured in anthropology departments were also voiced by the members. Moreover, some members argued that feminist anthropology should be mainstreamed to make sure that it is represented in all four fields. They also wanted to clarify that feminist anthropology is not just about gender, and gender is not just about women. Another concern was the sharing of ideas on feminist research methods and pedagogy, and the fostering of greater collaboration between practical, community based activities and research and writing programs. Unfortunately, information on their community-based activities was not available at the time the research was conducted.
Some of the AFA members have noteworthy accomplishments. Yolanda Moses had been the President of the AAA, and Louise Lamphere, former AFA Chair, has since served as President of the AAA. Lamphere, Margery Wolf, and Emily Martin have been Presidents of the American Ethnological Society (AES), and many AFA members have served on the Board of AES at different times. Furthermore, many members are on the editorial boards of prestigious journals and publishing companies. It was not possible, however, to find out how many members are teaching in community colleges and four-year undergraduate colleges.
The major activity of AFA is sponsoring panels. Co-editing books out of panels and projects is a common practice among the members. The Association also supports variety of efforts within the AAA to advance equity, inclusiveness, and human rights. The members are concerned about women’s reproductive rights, unemployment, and exploitation within the academy. AFA collaborates and co-sponsors panels with the Association of Black Anthropologists, Society for the Anthropology of North America, AAA’s Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Anthropology, and Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists. Contributions of AFA to the 1998 AAA Conference are as follows:
"Questing for Perfection: The New Eugenics?" (the Presidential Session)
"Engendered Modernities: Ethnographic Perspectives"
"Gendered Politics of Reproduction"
"Globalization, Restructuring and Women’s Poverty" (co-sponsored with the SANA)
"Population, Identity and Gendered Roles in Japan"
"Teaching Sex: A Facilitated Discussion" (and workshop)
"Feminist Pedagogy and the Anthropology Classroom"
"Kinship and Consumption: A Productive, Reproductive Paradox"
"Women and Holistic Health Care in the U.S."
"Rereading Policies and Norms: Sexuality, Motherhood, and (Re)Production"
"Rethinking Femininities: Class, Religion and Nation in Bengal"
"Reproduction and Sexual Citizenship"
"Regulating Populations: Gender, Space and Modernity"
"Women, Work and Female-Headed Households"
The Association, moreover, has censured some departments for discrimination and for not being representative. Finally, AFA aims to form a student slate for student membership in the next elections. in order to formalize student representation on the Board.
-From Labrador to Samoa: The Theory and Practice of Eleanor Burke Leacock
-Gender and Race through Education and Political Activism: The Legacy of Sylvia Helen Forman
-Feminism, Nationalism, and Militarism
-The Association for Feminist Anthropology Membership Directory (August 1996)
AFA has been quite successful in increasing the visibility of feminist anthropology. They have sponsored many sessions and edited many volumes. They have been good at stimulating certain topics and drawing attention to issues, such as violence, human rights and women’s reproductive rights. According to Clark, the curriculum project has been particularly successful and textbooks include gender more now. Although it is not clear how diverse the Association is, diversity and inclusiveness has been one of the major concerns of AFA.
Association for Feminist Anthropology web site (http://sscl.berkeley.edu/~afaweb/)
Former AFA web site at the AAA’s site (http://www.ameranthassn.org/afa.htm)
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