Why we wanted to do a conference:
The idea of having a conference was born in November, 1999, when Kate Navarra and Tessa Farmer returned from the annual American Anthropological Association meetings in Chicago. They wanted to organize a panel of University of Rochester students, alumni and faculty for the 2000 meetings. However, the deadline for paper submissions flew by and there was not enough interest in terms of student papers.
"What about having a conference honoring Margaret Mead's Centennial?," asked Professor Ayala Emmett. The idea sparked a flame in both students and they decided to start organizing. They put together an advisory board consisting of professors from the anthropology department and other departments of the University of Rochester; professors from anthropology departments in area colleges and universities; a public relations representative; community leaders; and themselves.
It was important to both Kate and Tessa that the conference address the idea of community, relevant issues in society, communication between fields, and availability of research to the public. The participants in the conference should be interested in anthropology in the spirit of Margaret Mead. We drew full support from the faculty in the anthropology department as well as from departments from other colleges and universities and departments at the University of Rochester.
While organizing the conference, the two co-chairpersons kept the ideas of Margaret Mead, the importance of community involvement and public anthropology in mind.
What are we doing to make anthropology public? What is the role of anthropology in American society? In the face of the new milennium, we believe that reevaluating the role of anthropology would only help us to understand better our culture, society, and behaviors. We must keep in mind that by looking to and studying other cultures, we can look at our own culture with a different and less ethnocentric perspective.
There are plenty of opportunities for anthropology, our research and our questions to enter public light. We, as anthropologists, must keep in mind the mothers and fathers of anthropology who dared to bring taboo and controversial topics into the public realm where everyone had the opportunity to become educated about issues that touch everyday life.
Opportunities are out there; like presenting in conferences, and reading about cultures that interest us. They just need to be utilized. We would like to encourage students, alumni, faculty and all others interested in participating in conferences, publishing, and researching to get out there and do anthropology and bring it into the public, where it belongs, for people to become aware and educated about their own culture.