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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Society for Economic Anthropology Meeting - March 22-24, 2012 - Anthropology of Cities


*Society for Economic Anthropology Annual Meeting*

*22-24 March 2012*

*San Antonio, Texas*


See Also:

Program Chairs: Dolores Koenig (
<>) and Ty Matejowsky (_Ty.Matejowsky@ucf.edu_)


*THEME: The Political Economy of Cities *

Throughout history the economic growth, decline, and resurgence of urban
centers has been variously affected by political developments. The
morphology of cities has followed ideological ideas about the role and
function of urban centers, often consciously put into place by local,
state, and colonial leaders. This annual meeting will explore the
impacts of the political economy underlying the growth and development of
cities on the lived experiences of urbanites. How do these policies affect
the ability of city residents to earn reasonable livings? How do they
facilitate or discourage the creation of local structures to create
meaningful lives? How does the environmental impact of dense urban
populations restrain or modulate city growth?

We are especially interested in the ways that various political
economies encourage or discourage the movement of specific urban groups.
In deep history, political leaders increased urban populations by
encouraging artisans and traders to establish themselves locally and
increasing labor availability through practices like slavery. They created
neighborhoods with specific functions and purposes, many of which were
associated with particular ethnic groups. In more recent history,
governments created ghettos or ethnic enclaves within urban centers and
discouraged city growth through tools such as urban
residence permits. Today, political instruments such as zoning
regulations, planned development initiatives, and slum rehabilitation
programs all constrain or mediate economic activities and population
movements into and within urban centers.

These topics have been studied in various ways by archaeologists,
socio-cultural anthropologists, and economists. Thus, economic
anthropology offers a valuable perspective to understand these issues as
the discipline is concerned with the interplay of urbanism, political
economy, cultural identity, social change, and development within past and
present local contexts.

Among the issues that this meeting hopes to address are the following:

Urban planning over time:

What specific tools and strategies have political leaders used to
encourage and discourage urban growth and economic activities in
different times and places?

In what ways have political leaders attempted to create specific urban
forms? To what extent do these forms facilitate the integration or the
separation of different urban groups (e.g., occupational groups, ethnic

To what extent have decision makers invoked the political and economic
explicitly? To what extent have they used religious, ideological, or
socio-cultural reasons?

How effective have these planning measures been? To what extent have
leaders faced unanticipated consequences, such as environmental
degradation or ethnic violence? To what extent have ordinary urban
residents attempted to create their own sense of meaning and place,
distinct from that of elites or leaders?

How have these forms of growth and planning affected the lives of urban

Voluntary movement to/from and within cities:

What strategies have political leaders used to encourage migration to or
from urban enclaves/districts and the placement of groups in particular
neighborhoods -- in different times and places? These might include
strategies such as: providing neighborhoods for long-distance traders,
resources and markets for artisans, advertisements of jobs,

To what extent have these strategies been effective in creating the kinds
of urban centers envisaged by leaders?

To what extent have urbanites used voluntary movement to, from, or within
cities to create more meaningful lives and better living standards?

To what extent have forms of voluntary movement within cities led to
greater integration and/or differentiation among different urban groups?
For example, to what extent do forms of voluntary movement exacerbate or
assuage local class or ethnic distinctions?

Forced movement to/from and within cities:

What strategies have been used to forcibly move populations to, from, or
within cities? These might include: bringing slaves to newly formed urban
centers, compelling certain ethnic groups to reside in particular
neighborhoods, zoning regulations that prohibit certain occupations, urban
renewal, development projects that require community resettlement.

To what extent have these strategies been effective in creating the kinds
of cities envisaged by leaders?

Much existing literature suggests that forced movement is usually
detrimental to those forced to resettle; their standards of living
decrease and their cultural lives are significantly disrupted. Are forced
movements of these kinds ever justified? If so, in what ways can their
impacts be made less disruptive?

What are the long-term political and socioeconomic consequences of these
kinds of moves on the descendants of these resettled populations?

These questions are especially important as the world's population of 6.7
billion is now on verge of becoming predominantly urban. Today, all the
continents have or soon will have 50% urban populations.
Anthropology, with its knowledge of both past and present forms of urban
growth, offers viable frameworks for understanding the enduring aspects of
these issues.

*Please Send Abstracts:*

The Society for Economic Anthropology offers a unique opportunity to
discuss important issues through its focused program composed of plenary
sessions with dedicated discussion to each paper. Each presenter will have
20-25 minutes to present a paper, which is followed immediately by 15-20
minutes of discussion.

We welcome abstracts of papers (approximately 200-250 words) on the
conference topic.

An equally important part of its annual conference is its engaging poster
session. In addition to posters on the conference theme, the SEA welcomes
posters on any topic related to economic anthropology. Students and
scholars whose work may not fit the central theme of the meeting are
encouraged to submit a poster. The inclusive poster session is a major
event of each year's SEA conference.

Please submit abstracts, for either paper or panel session, to the program
chairs, Dolores Koenig (
<>) and Ty Matejowsky (
by October 31, 2011.

*Meeting City:*

The meeting will be held at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel in San Antonio,
Texas with Richard Reed (Trinity University) serving as Local
Arrangements Coordinator. San Antonio, a historic North American city
formed around five 18^th century missions, is now undergoing urban growth
oriented around mixed use development in the municipal core and the
integration of the contemporary city with the older missions. Thus, it is
a great place to have a meeting focused on the political economy of
cities. Moreover San Antonio will be fun, with great weather and
amenities. The hotel is next to the city's famous Riverwalk, with
numerous shops, music venues, restaurants, museums and art galleries.

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