New Proposed Sessions
Working Session: ASAO Histories
Eleven papers were drafted in advance of this second working session, which involved numerous authors, commentators, both in person and in absentia, as well as a few observers. Some papers are now nearly complete or ready to be shared more widely for additional input; others are still in development; and we have identified additional projects to be undertaken.
One of the major projects currently underway (led by Alex Mawyer and Alan Howard) is compiling a spreadsheet of the more than 700 ASAO sessions that have taken place in the association’s first half century. This can be used to identify and trace the trajectories of session topics over time, reflecting on focuses in the field of anthropology over the same period. In addition, we can use the compilation to answer questions such as how many sessions actually follow the “classic” ASAO
three-year model of informal session–working session–symposium? Apparently only a small percentage!
One paper traces the history of the ASAO Monograph (now Book) Series and is authored by six of the series’ editors (Margaret Critchlow, Michele Dominy, Jeannette Mageo, Andrew Strathern and Pamela Stewart, and Rupert Stasch) with additional input from early series editor Mac Marshall. Another (by Lamont Lindstrom) looks at the former ASAO Special Publications Series and its
connection with the Distinguished Lectures, which are now published regularly on the basis of an agreement with the journal Oceania. Mike Rynkiewich recounts the processes and criteria developed and used in meeting site selection over the years. Juliana Flinn writes about
the evolution of ASAO membership categories; Laura Zimmer-Tamakoshi traces impacts of Jane Goodale’s bringing her undergraduate and graduate students to ASAO meetings; and Rich Scaglion explores the intertwined histories of the what was once the Association for Social Anthropology in Eastern Oceania (ASAEO) and NEWS, the NorthEast Wantok System newsletter
for Melanesianists, in light of the gradually increasing involvement of the latter in the broadened ASAO. Alan Howard recaps the history of the development of the ASAO website, and Thorgeir Kolshus reflects on his introduction to ASAO via ASAONET. Jan Rensel is working on a history of the Pacific Islands Scholars Fund, and Nancy Pollock proposes a number of ideas to encourage
increased and ongoing Pacific Islander participation in the association.
Additional projects include writing the histories of ASAONET and the Newsletter; compiling lists of board members and of officers over the past fifty years; and identifying the people in the annual meeting photo “albums” now kept online on the ASAO website. Other ideas—and participants—are welcome! Not all who are involved in this project/series of sessions can attend every meeting, so we use a blog to post draft papers and comments between meetings. This year we also recorded our three-hour discussion to share with those participating in absentia. We are planning another working session next year, if a majority of participants can attend the meeting in New Orleans.
ASAO Histories participants can access the Histories blog here.
Jan Rensel, Center for Pacific Islands Studies, UH Mānoa <firstname.lastname@example.org>;
Alan Howard, Anthropology Department, UH Mānoa <email@example.com>