75°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Anthro Club makes its mark in National Anthropology Conference

Anthro Club makes its mark in National Anthropology Conference

Last year, the Anthropology Club was given an opportunity to run a conference session entitled, “Anthropology’s Four-Field Approach: Does It Actually Happen?” at a Society for the Anthropology of North America (SANA) conference in New York City, April 20-22, 2006. On April 19-21 of this year, SANA held their annual conference in New Orleans, and the club reprised their role as the only undergraduate student organization to participate in the conference.

Once again, the club has been given the privilege to conduct a session entitled, “Anthropology’s Handling of Un-Natural Disasters,” to fit the SANA theme, unnatural disasters. The session was organized into three 15-minute presentations with a question and answer period, followed by an analytical summation by Dr. Gregory Button, a former consultant and advisor to various organizations such as the EPA, and ending with a general discussion.

The three presentations titles were “Past Un-Natural Disasters,” “Valuing Property More than People: the Unnatural Disaster of Hurricane Katrina” and “Using the Past & Present as a Framework for the Future.” Representing the club were Theodore Disciscio, Eric Heller, Katie Markman, Kathleen O’Brien, Christia Panizales and James Ricciato, along with continued support from Student Life adviser Chuck Henriques, and professors Tim Sieber, SANA adviser, Patrick Clarkin, club adviser, Lauren Sullivan, Alan Waters and Steve Mrozowski, dean of the Anthropology department.

The task at hand not only required commitment from the members to attend a conference populated by a crowd with Master’s degrees and PhD’s, but to commit to preparing a lengthy paper along with a 15-minute power point presentation. As undergraduate students, the prospect of planning the excursion and presenting in front of a professional academic audience was a daunting task.

In order to overcome their already busy schedules, filled with work and full-time course loads, the Club officers began preparing for the conference in September 2006. By second week of October, officer Gregory Messina came up with the idea of doing the session theme based on the idea of disaster anthropology to which the other officers agreed to enthusiastically, despite the fact that they were not quite sure the concept existed.

As soon as the session logistics were planned out, a calling to all interested session participants went out to all club members. Markman, Ricciato and Heller answered and were paired with an officer and the officer’s respective paper focus. Sieber assisted in acquiring Button and everything was going as planned, until Messina found out that he could not attend the conference. Fortunately, Heller stepped into the new position of organizing the paper and presentation.

SANA has provided an opportunity for the undergraduates to participate in a conference that is highly recognized nationally. Members of the SANA team were also able to work on every step of the conference preparation and see it to the end. They drew in more than handfuls of academicians and of anthropologists from all around the world and country. After their session, an Anthropology professor complimented the impressive work of the undergraduates and the future that lay ahead of them.