The GAD New Directions Award is offered in two categories—Group and Individual—to recognize work that presents anthropological perspectives to publics beyond the academy across diverse forms of media, with methodological rigor and ethical engagement.
Fieldsites (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Heather Anne Paxson, Brad Weiss, Chris Nelson, and Jessica Lockrem)
The General Anthropology Division (GAD) of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) is pleased to announce Fieldsites as the 2021 winner of the GAD New Directions Award (Group category). Fieldsights (https://culanth.org/fieldsights) is Society for Cultural Anthropology’s (SCA) open access website for nonjournal publications.
Now in its tenth year, Fieldsights has been widely emulated, helping to catalyze the growth of nonjournal digital publishing in anthropology. Its various sections speak to and on behalf of diverse audiences around the world in both textual and nontextual formats. Today, Fieldsights has coalesced into two distinct tracks: (1) Editors’ Forum, published eight times a year, featuring Hot Spots and Theorizing the Contemporary, guest-edited series of ten or more essays that are reviewed by the editors of Cultural Anthropology; and (2) Contributed Content, written and/or curated by the more than forty graduate students who volunteer, at any one time, as part of SCA’s flagship Contributing Editors (CE) Program. In 2020, Fieldsights as a whole received an impressive 773,937-page views (an increase of 12% over the previous year), representing 318,428 users (an increase of 19% over the previous year), fewer than half coming from the United States (44%), with others coming from the United Kingdom (8%), Canada (6%), India (5%), Germany (3%), Australia (2%), Brazil (2%), Philippines (2%), and China (2%). When open access publishing in Anthropology remains all too rare in the United States, SCA’s Fieldsights demonstrates the scholarly and community worth of investing both labor and financial resources into a durable, well-curated, open access publishing platform.
Co-Winners: Margaret Dorsey and Miguel Díaz-Barriga; Joshua Hamzehee
The GAD Award Committee deliberations resulted in a tie, with Margaret Dorsey and Miguel Díaz-Barriga (University of Richmond, VA) and Joshua Hamzehee (University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls) as co-winners.
Margaret Dorsey and Miguel Díaz-Barriga
From participating in marches and hearings to creating digital archives, curating art exhibits and proposing an AAA resolution, Díaz-Barriga and Dorsey have called attention to the transformations in democracy and citizenship associated with the global proliferation of border walls. Through photography (both their own and the work of other anthropologists and photographers) they document how militarization has altered the U.S. Mexico border region. Their curatorial projects chronicle the construction of the U.S Mexico border wall, the increased presence of agents and surveillance technologies in the region, and the destruction of wildlife preserves. Central to their work is exploring how militarization reconfigures citizenship and belonging. In their book, Fencing in Democracy: Border Walls, Necrocitizenship, and the Security State (Duke 2020), the authors argue that border residents are enmeshed in a complex logic of militarization that simultaneously seeks to exclude and render them as necrocitizens. For Díaz-Barriga and Dorsey border wall construction is not a solution to the complex social issues facing the globe but rather a violent response that creates suffering and death.
The GAD Award Committee recognizes Joshua Hamzehee for innovative work during the last three years, Baton Rouge SLAM! An Obituary for Summer 2016: A Critical Performance Ethnography of Eclectic Truth Poetry Slam, based on ethnographic research with members of the Baton Rouge slam poetry community following a tragic summer 2016. That summer, protests, natural disasters, and community losses flooded the “Red Stick.” One year later, after receiving permission to interview local slam poets and theatricalize their slam poetry, Hamzehee created a script, staged, and toured the ensemble production, Baton Rouge SLAM! An Obituary for Summer 2016, inviting residents to reflect on a capital divided. This project explores the entire performance ethnography process through the lens of a community of artistic journalists, from its conception, to the methods, to the touring performance, as well as community reflections. By placing ethnographic experiences, interviews with core Eclectic Truth members, and their slam poems in conversation with theories of social drama, performance, and critical ethnography, Hamzehee paints a portrait of Eclectic Truth Poetry Slam and Baton Rouge, LA, during fall 2016. Blending poetry and performance with oral history, community stories, heartbreak, and joy, the author contends slam poetry communities are worthy of and deserve further performative exploration, community investment, and attention from dominant publics.