What is WAPA?

What a great set of blogs to launch our new initiative, WAPA Features. We have Queshia’s blog on the really dramatic changes in our city and how people young and old, black and white experience that and we have Gretchen’s on the 40 year history of our own organization and how young and old have experienced that. I am so excited to begin this year as President of the Washington Association of Professional Anthropologists (WAPA). I’m new to a leadership role like this and was just thinking yesterday that as I embark into this new territory for myself, that I can use the lens of anthropology to help me figure things out.

Foucault is a favorite read of mine and once you get hooked on Foucault it is hard not to see the competing discourses of youth and age, color and family background in these pieces. Foucault suggests that discourses are “in every society… controlled, selected, organized and redistributed according to a certain number of procedures, whose role is to avert its ponderous, awesome materiality” (1972:216).

WAPA brings its own set of discourses and as we move into our next decade I’d like to think about how to hold on to the traditions that brought me and my colleagues into WAPA — programs such as the monthly speaker series in which anthropologists from various backgrounds come and share their work; the happy hour and dinner that precedes the talks where I usually get to talk to old friends and new; the mentorship program; the potlucks; the outings where we often get a behind-the-scenes tour of interesting historical sites or museum exhibits; and the anthropology jobs listserv, a free service for anyone looking for the next opportunity.

I am also thinking about the discourses that resonate with younger members from various ethnic backgrounds who are coming of age in a very different employment-sparse environment. How can we use the resources we have to connect with those who are seeking education and employment today? How can we speak the language of those who rely more heavily on virtual ways of connecting? And how can we grow and rework some of our core traditions to speak to members from such different backgrounds? I think we start by dialogue — this blog where we can connect to each other in addition to a global community of anthropologists and face-to-face in traditional programs and in new programs, such as our WAPA Meetup series where WAPA members will talk theory, enjoy happy hours, and connect with students from local universities, etc. If any of this resonates or if you have ideas to share, please reach out. We are an all-volunteer organization and we are happy to have you contribute.


Frances Norwood, President 2016-2017

Washington Association of Professional Anthropologists

Source: What is WAPA?