The Conversations in the Lobby event first appeared at the VIII Sesquiannual Conference of SALSA in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2013. The event was created to honor our then recently departed colleague Steve Rubenstein, particularly by reproducing in a different format a service that he provided to students, young colleagues, and peers: Steve would constantly distill and formulate insights about our professional lives as anthropologists and as academics, and share them as advice.
This time around—the fourth!—Conversations in the Lobby will be a group affair dealing with the topic of teaching courses on the anthropology of peoples of lowland South America.
Our group is the following:
Jeremy Campbell, Roger Williams University
Juan A. Echeverri, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Sede Leticia
Carlos D. Londoño Sulkin, University of Regina (Organizer)
Kathleen Lowrey, University of Alberta
Laura Mentore, University of Mary Washington
Daniela Peluso, University of Kent
Pirjo Virtanen, University of Helsinki
We exchanged syllabi, created and individually responded to a questionnaire about our courses, and kept our email conversation going throughout the 2016-2017 academic year. In the process, we discussed, among other topics, course emphases, teaching philosophies and strategies, the pedagogical challenges we faced, and bibliographies, films, and other resources. Some topics organically stood out: the relevance of ethnographic area courses in this day and age; the challenges of delivering such courses in ‘the neoliberal university’; the Euro-American emphasis of our academia; teaching in support of indigenous rights and well-being; the possibility of pedagogical collaborations with indigenous peoples; and, very pragmatically, key bibliographic, media, and film resources of particular value for tackling certain topics.
At the 2017 SALSA conference in Lima, Peru, our group will first make a joint presentation of topics broached, and then open the floor for discussion. Afterwards, we will make ourselves available for another hour for more intimate conversations with SALSA members present who would be interested in finding out more about our discussions, conclusions, teaching materials, and so forth.