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President’s Welcome

By Pamela Downe, University of Saskatchewan

Welcome to the new issue of Culture! It is also a new year for the CASCA Executive as we welcome Marieka Sax (University of Northern British Columbia) as Anglophone Member at Large and Sabrina Doyon (Université Laval) as President-Elect. Marieka and Sabrina join me (University of Saskatchewan), Past-President Martha Radice (Dalhousie University), Treasurer Udo Krautwurst (University of Prince Edward Island), Secretary Charles Menzies (University of British Columbia), Francophone Member at Large Van Troi Tran (Université Laval), and Communications Officer Éric Gagnon Poulin (Université Laval). The Executive Committee is incredibly fortunate to have the guidance and support of our Administrative Manager, the incomparable Karli Whitmore.

I can’t believe it has been over 6 months since we gathered in Cuba for our last CASCA Conference, and what a wonderful conference it was! Conference Coordinator, Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier (University of Victoria), was nothing short of heroic in organizing the meetings in partnership with the Universidad de Oriente in Santiago, Cuba, and the Society for Applied Anthropology. The theme, Contrapunteo (Counterpoint), generated some vibrant discussions and debates. I am still drawing on much of the work that was presented, but it is the spirit of collaboration and cooperation that has stayed with me since the conference. That same spirit marks the work CASCA is doing to host our first ever joint meeting with the American Anthropology Association (AAA) in Vancouver next year (November 20-24, 2019). As the article in this issue explains, the theme for the upcoming conference is Changing Climates: Struggle, Collaboration, and Justice / Changer d’air: Lutte, collaboration et justice. We hope that this theme inspires creative engagements with our changing climates (of all kinds) and the collaborative roles that anthropologists play in the struggle for justice. The conference coincides with UNESCO’s International Year of Indigenous Languages, and we are planning some exciting events in recognition and acknowledgment of this occasion. Martha Radice and I are CASCA Co-Chairs and we are thrilled to be working with Nicole Peterson (University of North Caroline, Charlotte) as AAA Co-Chair. The Executive Program Committee is constituted by CASCA and AAA members: Virginia Caputo (Carleton University), Natacha Gagné (Université Laval), Charles Menzies (UBC), Elizabeth Marino (OSU-Cascades), Linda Whiteford (University of South Florida), Julie Maldonado (University of California, Santa Barbara), Aisha Beliso-de Jesus (Harvard), and Su’ad Khabeer (University of Michigan). Thanks to the generosity of our colleagues in British Columbia, a Local Organizing Committee has also been struck, and it includes: Pamela Stern (Simon Fraser University), Jaime Yard (Douglas College), Julia Murphy (Kwantlen Polytechnic University), Nicola Mooney (University of the Fraser Valley), Susan Rowley (UBC, Museum of Anthropology and Department of Anthropology), and David Geary (UBC Okanagan). We are truly grateful for everyone’s commitment to making the 2019 AAA/CASCA conference the success I know it will be. Please watch your e-mails for updates on submission deadlines and processes. The dates and processes will be different this year. You don’t want to miss out!

In addition to partnering with the AAA for our 2019 conference, CASCA is continuing the successful relationship we forged with the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) in previous years and we are co-hosting the Conference of the SfAA in Portland in March 2019. There are sure to be several Canadian-themed panels, and CASCA will be represented on the Presidential Panel on Immigration and Migration. I hope to see many of you there!

Because the date of our 2019 annual conference has shifted to November (rather than its usual May schedule), we will be holding a virtual Annual General Meeting in May 2018. It is critically important that CASCA members take part in this meeting so that we meet the legal requirements of non-profit organizations. As the dates of the virtual meeting draw near, we will be sending e-mail and social media updated. Stay tuned!

The past year has also brought changes to our flagship journal, Anthropologica. CASCA is thrilled to welcome Sonja Luehrmann (Simon Fraser University) as the new Editor-in-Chief, and we thank Jasmin Habib, out-going Editor-in-Chief, for all of her hard work and dedication. Sonja joins the editorial team of Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier (Editor, French manuscripts), Karine Gagné (Book Review Editor, French), and Daniel Tubb (Book Review Editor, English), as well as a 22-member editorial board. In addition to producing a first-rate publication that celebrates and disseminates the work of CASCA members, the Anthropologica team has been grappling with the ongoing pressures to move the journal to full Open Access. Luckily, we have the guidance of a great working group who, among other tasks, surveyed CASCA members and attended several conferences to learn more about the practicalities, issues, and financial implications of this shift. Thank you to Thomas (Tad) McIlwraith and Caura Wood for serving as co-chairs to this working group. Our discussions regarding the move to open access continue and we will be sure to keep everyone updated.

We have several other major initiatives underway this year. We are exploring the establishment of a CASCA Teaching Award that would highlight innovative and inspiring teaching by anthropologists in Canada. We are also working with our companion members of the Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences to highlight the importance of academic leadership in ensuring the visibility of social science and humanities scholarship in Canada. Members of the CASCA Executive will be attending two upcoming meetings (being led by Director of Associations of the Federation, Sandra Lapointe) to discuss how we can broaden the place for anthropology in the landscape of Canadian scholarship. The CASCA Executive also responded to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s proposal for a mandatory data repository for SSHRC-funded projects. We are troubled by many aspects of this proposal and we shared our concerns with SSHRC representatives. In a parallel initiative, the AAA and the World Council of Anthropological Associations (WCAA) are discussing the development of a voluntary data repository that would be community-owned. The intent is to facilitate data sharing, research development, and knowledge dissemination that is safe, scholar-driven, and respectful to our research partners. I am a participant in these discussions and am eager to see where this initiative might go.

The work of CASCA’s networks and committees continues apace. The Women’s Network, the Canadian Medical Anthropology Network, the Environmental Anthropology Network, the Living Standards Committee, the Network for Precarious Anthropology, the Linguistic Anthropology Network, the Practicing and Applied Anthropologist Network, and the Labour Committee, are venues for sharing information, ideas, concerns, and imagining new directions of the discipline. Thank you to everyone who contributes to, and participates in this work.

Unfortunately, not all of the work we have undertaken recently has been celebratory. Soon after assuming the role of President in May 2018, I became aware of the situation being faced by our colleague, Dr. David Scheffel (Thompson Rivers University). David’s research is based in Slovakia where he explores the lives of Roma youth, many of whom are involved in sex work. In August 2017, David was arrested on the basis of what appears to be a misreading of his research. He was incarcerated and prevented from accessing his research materials to mount a full defense. CASCA worked with the Scheffel family to advocate for David’s rights to access his research materials and to be provided with the legal resources necessary for a full and fair defense. A total of 12 letters were sent to various governmental representatives; we worked with the CAUT in issuing a strong statement in support of international academic freedom, and we assisted various journalists who were covering the situation. As of September 24th, 2018, David was released on bail while his trial continues. In consultation with David’s family, CASCA will post updates on the situation as they become known to us.

It has certainly been a busy first half to an event-filled year. CASCA is working hard to provide an academic “home base” for anthropologists who work in, and are connected to Canada. We couldn’t do it without a strong and dedicated membership!

I would like to close on a personal note, if I may. This coming May will mark my personal anniversary with CASCA. I joined the Society thirty years ago. As a young graduate student, I presented at my very first CASCA conference and I was overwhelmed by the kind reception that established scholars gave to us novice researchers (and nervous presenters). It is an honour of a lifetime to mark this anniversary by serving as CASCA President. I am no longer so novice, and I am rarely nervous, but I am as overwhelmed by CASCA’s vibrancy and collegiality now than I was so long ago. Thank you, everyone, for making CASCA the Society that it is.

Best wishes for the upcoming holiday season,


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