SCA Biennial: The Virtual Otherwise 2022

The Society for Cultural Anthropology and the Society for Visual Anthropology are excited to bring to you our third nearly-carbon-neutral biennial conference, The Virtual Otherwise, which will take place June 2, 3, and 4, 2022.

Building on previous iterations (Distribute 2020 and Displacements 2018), this year’s conference combines in-person and virtual events. The Virtual Otherwise will incorporate streaming pre-recorded multimedia panels, accompanied by live online discussion, and locally organized in-person nodes. Our website hosts additional conference features, including videos and instructional webinars aimed at supporting panelists (and other researchers and writers) seeking to develop creative and expressive presentations and discussions. These videos are publicly available on the conference website. Geographically dispersed “nodes” held during the conference will enable in-person events and interactions in locations from Los Angeles to Cairo. Overall, our goal is to expand access to virtual conferences by rethinking the terms and practices of engagement.

Our 2022 theme, “The Virtual Otherwise,” is centered on questions at the heart of anthropology's relationship to the virtual: What promises and possibilities do virtual spaces, practices, and technologies hold in everyday social worlds? Where, when, and how do people encounter the limits of virtualization, and with what intimate and collective political forms do they challenge its violence? How can ethnographic practice across a range of mediums—text, film, photography, audio, digital platforms—enable us to better illuminate the questions of connection, surveillance, access, failure, and survival that virtual spaces open up?

As many of anthropology’s core practices—from fieldwork to writing and representation—increasingly take place online, The Virtual Otherwise hopes to create a space for a more ethical and generative virtual anthropology to emerge. The Virtual Otherwise thus joins many voices seeking to imagine anthropology otherwise.

Registration is open to all! Fees are on a sliding scale from USD$0–$25. Details and links can be found on our website for The Virtual Otherwise




SCA Biennial: Distribute 2020

The Society for Cultural Anthropology and the Society for Visual Anthropology are excited to bring to you our second nearly-carbon-neutral biennial conference: Distribute 2020, which took place May 7, 8, and 9, 2020.

Like its previous iteration (Displacements 2018), Distribute 2020 will be virtual and distributed: virtual in that it will be anchored by a dedicated conference website streaming prerecorded multimedia panels; and distributed in that presenters and viewers from across the globe will participate in the conference via local “nodes.”

Distribute 2020 will offer three full days of streamed audio-visual panels and virtual (and, where possible, in-person) nodes where participants can gather with others to view the conference collectively. Our goal is a low-cost, highly accessible, nearly-carbon-neutral conference that might pave the way for rethinking the mega-conference model.

Our 2020 theme, “Distribute” is meant to operate on two levels. Distribute is an analytic lens to study the dispersal, diffusion, and (re)distribution of humans and nonhumans, and of resources, practices, and ideas. Distribute is also a call or imperative—redistribute!—to prompt more ethically and politically engaged forms of scholarship.

Distribute 2020 asks: How can we turn our collective anthropological attention to questions of distribution and redistribution, and to the economics and politics, the violence and poetics of allocation and dispensation, movement and migration, organizing and repositioning? And, in so doing, how might we generate forms of publicly engaged scholarship that reach beyond the traditional confines of academia?

Distribute 2020 joins a rising tide of voices addressing such critical questions, offering an anthropological response and a means to imagine another anthropology into existence.

View a teaser for the conference. View the conference website.




SCA Meetings

  • 2020, “Distribute 2020
  • 2018, “Displacements
  • 2016 Ithaca, “Collaboration”
  • 2014 Detroit, “The Ends of Work”
  • 2012 Providence, “Life and Death: A Conversation”
  • 2010 Santa Fe, “Nature Culture”
  • 2008 Long Beach, “Ethics, Aesthetics, Politics”
  • 2006 Milwaukee, “Translations of Value”
  • 2004 Portland, “Sovereignty”
  • 2001 Montreal, “Engaging Regimes of Technoscience”
  • 1999 San Francisco, “States of Power: Culture, Governmentality, and Markets in Transition”
  • 1997 San Francisco, “Millennial Futures”
  • 1995 New York City, “States of Violence and the Violence of Status”
  • 1994 Chicago, “Cultural Production under Late Capitalism”
  • 1993 Washington, “Cultural Borders”
  • 1992 Austin, “Culture and Colonization”
  • 1991 Boston, “Culture and Memory”
  • 1990 Santa Monica, “Making Popular Culture”
  • 1989 Washington, “Challenges to the Concept of Culture”
  • 1988 Washington, “The Relationship Between Culture and Self”

David Schneider Lecture

Since 1999, the David Schneider Lecture has formed the cornerstone of the SCA’s biennial meeting. The lecture is named for one of the SCA’s
founders and a defining figure in twentieth-century cultural anthropology.

  • 2018 Jason De León (University of Michigan), Lisa Stevenson (McGill University), Eduardo Kohn (McGill University), and Stephanie Spray (University of Colorado Boulder)
  • 2016 Kim Fortun (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Douglas Holmes (Binghamton University), Alberto Corsín Jiménez (Spanish National Research Council), George Marcus (University of California, Irvine), and Annelise Riles (Cornell University)
  • 2014 Kathi Weeks (Duke University) and Sylvia Yanagisako (Stanford University)
  • 2012 João Biehl (Princeton University) and Vinh-Kim Nguyen (University of Montreal)
  • 2010 Donna Haraway (University of California, Santa Cruz) and John Law (Open University)
  • 2008 Talal Asad (Graduate Center, City University of New York)
  • 2006 Timothy Mitchell (New York University)
  • 2004 Mahmood Mamdani (Columbia University)
  • 2001 Paul Rabinow (University of California, Berkeley)
  • 1999 Ashraf Ghani (World Bank)

SCA Events at the AAA Annual Meeting

Culture at Large

In addition to holding its annual business meeting, sponsoring sessions on the scholarly program, and holding student-faculty workshops, the SCA
holds a signature event known as Culture at Large. The event places three discussants in conversation with a distinguished interlocutor from outside of anthropology. If you would like to support these authors and the Society for Cultural Anthropology, you can visit our page to purchase books written by our Culture at Large Speakers, as well as our Gregory Bateson Prize Books!

  • 2019 Christina Sharpe, with Aimee Cox, Audra Simpson and Adia Benton
  • 2018 Robin D. G. Kelley, with Savannah Shange, John Jackson, Jr., and Gary Wilder, in collaboration with the Association of Black Anthropologists
  • 2017 “Fieldwork and the Native Informant,” with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
  • 2016 “Engaging with Inequality and Affective States,” with Javier Auyero
  • 2015 “Injury and Creation,” with Elaine Scarry
  • 2014 “The Future of Race in Science: Regression or Revolution?” with Dorothy Roberts
  • 2013 “Iconology Meets Anthropology: Totemism, Fetishism, Iconoclasm,” with W. J. T. Mitchell
  • 2012 “On Biopolitics and the Attachment to Life,” with Lauren Berlant
  • 2011 “The Human is More than Human,” with Dorion Sagan
  • 2010 “Militarization of the Social,” with David Theo Goldberg
  • 2009 “Sex and Secularity,” with Michael Warner
  • 2007 “Civilizing Modern Practices,” with Isabelle Stengers
  • 2006 “Conversations,” with Henrika Kuklick
  • 2005 “The Post-Soviet Condition,” with Susan Buck-Morss
  • 2005 “Rethinking American Culture: The Social Warrant of Consumer Citizenship and Hostile Privatism,” with George Lipsitz
  • 2003 “Reading for a Living: Some Observations on the Differences Between Lay and Professional Reading,” with John Guillory
  • 2002 “Race, Power, and Social Justice,” with Gerald Torres
  • 2001 “Moral Passages: Making Bedfellows of Philosophers and Anthropologists,” with Kathryn Pyne Addelson
  • 2001 “Rethinking Sovereignty,” with Michael Hardt, Veena Das, Giorgio Agamben, and Margaret Lock