CASCA: A Brief History
In February 1974 at a meeting at Laval Université of a group of 120 anthropologists launched the CESCE, the Canadian Ethnology Society/société canadienne d’ethnologie (CESCE). Its founders included individuals such as Sally Weaver, Marc Adélard Tremblay, Michael Asch, Harvey Feit, Joan Ryan, Richard Preston and Adrian Tanner. They and their colleagues felt there was room for an association of anthropologists separate from the Sociology and Anthropology Association (CSAA), then the dominant professional organization to which many Canadian anthropologists belonged, a group largely dominated by sociologists.
The original constitution defined the organization’s mandate to be: to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas among ethnologists. Its aims were to encourage formal and informal dissemination of knowledge through an annual conference and publications; promote relations with other academic and professional associations, aboriginal groups, and governments; and publicize ethnological research and activities to further understanding of ethnological practices.
Key founding members included individuals committed to fostering a tradition of socially and politically relevant anthropological work in Canada. They supported the idea that their professional association must be willing to take a position on issues of political and social importance, particularly those that directly affected the people with whom many of these researchers worked, Canadian Aboriginal people. Additionally, they never assumed a complete separation of the anthropological domains of the museum and the academy, even though few of them had any direct connection to the world of museum anthropological research.
The proceedings of the society's first conference were published by the National Museum of Man in its Mercury Series of publications, and the society established a bilingual newsletter "Le Bricoleur", which changed name in 1976 to the "Bulletin". The society also founded a scholarly journal titled "Culture" whose first volume appeared in 1981. During the early years, the society often held joint meetings with the Society of Applied Anthropology in Canada. The society changed its name in 1988 to the Canadian Anthropology Society to clarify its identity and emphasize its role as an anthropology association.
In 1997 the society negotiated the merger of its journal "Culture" with the independent journal "Anthropologica". The new "Anthropologica" became its official journal in 1998. CASCA continues to hold annual meetings, with its first international meeting being held in 2005 in Merida, Yucatan in conjunction with the Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan. In 2007, CASCA reclaimed “Culture” as the name of its new bulletin series.
CASCA has more than 500 members from across the country and the world. Upcoming annual conferences are being planned in Montreal (2010), Fredericton (2011) and Edmonton (2012).
We are proud of the past successes of CASCA. CASCA priorities for 2009-2011 are:
- to lobby funding agencies as necessary to ensure continuing financial support for anthropological research;
- to commit to excellence in Canadian anthropology graduate programmes and in the teaching of undergraduate anthropology; and
- to provide a platform to anthropologists practicing the discipline outside of academia.
One of the priorities that CASCA has identified is to engage more fully with SSHRC and CIHR in the unique positioning of anthropology in their bodies and to ensure anthropological study, methods and analysis are sufficiently represented in peer-review across the committees. As the association representing Canadian anthropologists, CASCA communicates to the federal government, to the provincial governments as well as the funding agencies the necessity of basic research in anthropology and the social sciences. We must strive to ensure that anthropology is not marginalized when funding is allocated and to do this we must explain clearly the contribution that anthropology makes to Canadian society.
Given the worldwide financial crisis and the looming government deficits, university funding is at risk and students will be asking themselves the age old question: "What job can I get as an anthropologist?" More than ever, CASCA must play a positive role in understanding where our graduates do end up working and how their anthropological training helps them in their careers. CASCA must represent the broad base of Canadian anthropologists across academies and practices, and the CASCA Executive is committed to working with all anthropologies to ensuring that our association meets the needs of the broadest spectrum of anthropologists working in Canada.
To do this, CASCA is working on developing new communication and networking tools to bring together anthropologists and to facilitate sharing of knowledge and communication. We will strive to ensure that our collective voice is heard.To do this, CASCA will continue to work closely with organizations such as the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, and the World Council of Anthropological Associations.
CASCA is and remains your association. We encourage you to become active in CASCA and to work with fellow members in promoting our discipline across the country and the world.