[URBANTH-L]SUNTA Panels and the AAA Annual Meetings

Robert Rotenberg rrotenbe at depaul.edu
Sun Oct 24 22:11:36 EDT 2004

The past week has been truly amazing. I have not seen a complex
organization fall apart this quickly since the German Democratic
Republic in 1989! I apologize for the length of time it has taken for me
to address these issues with you directly. I know there is a great deal
of anxiety among paper ad poster presenters, many of whom rationally
bought non-refundable tickets to fly to SF. 
Unfortunately much of what I have to say right now will not be very
satisfying. At this moment, no decision has been made not to hold SUNTA
sessions at the Atlanta site. 
That having been said, the Board is having discussions among ourselves
and with our colleagues in related organizations about the three
possibilities for this year. I'm telling you this for your information
only. This is not a request for a vote. We simply don't know enough
about these possibilities to make a coherent decision at this time. 
The first possibility is to hold our AAA SUNTA panels in the Spring. In
this scenario, we would meeting during the regularly scheduled Spring
meetings of SANA, SfAA or AES, assuming they are willing, their hotel
and venue could support the extra registrations, and the cost to SUNTA
is reasonable. If this were possible, we would negotiate for space with
the panel organizers and the meeting organizers. I would hope that we
could include not only the panels that AAA authorized for the AAA
program, but all the panels that were recommended by our program
committee. Again, I stress the if because we just do not know at this
point whether we would be welcome at any of these conferences, and if we
were, whether enough SUNTA panelists could attend to make the
considerable effort worthwhile.  
There is also possibility that just arose today of trying to arrange a
SUNTA meeting in San Jose during the period when the AAA meetings were
originally schedule. However, we know nothing about the details, costs,
logistics, or feasibility of this "mini-meeting."  Someone from SUNTA
would have to drop everything else they are doing for the next four
weeks and just do this. We are not set up for these kinds of
organizational emergencies. The colleagues who volunteer to run for
office in SUNTA know the schedule of activities and plan their teaching,
research and service accordingly. There is no elasticity in our time
commitments, especially on such short notice. 
There is the third possibility of going ahead with the SUNTA panels in
Atlanta. We can assume that attendance at Atlanta will be a fraction of
the number that would have attended in SF. There will be panels where
the organizer, discussant and/or a significant number of paper
presenters will not be absent. We have serious business to conduct.
There is AnthroSource. There is the new dues structure. There are our
prizes and the honoring of our colleagues' accomplishments over the
year. There is the networking that underlies the development of panels
and posters for 2005 in Washington. Yet, we know the business of the
society will be conducted by only a faction of those who would have
attended in SF, and this includes important members of the executive
board. This third possibility is not desirable.  I'm sure we would
prefer to look forward to a Spring meeting or to a mini-meeting in San
Jose where we could all be together. Be prepared for the fact that it
may be the only option available to us this year. 
The Board will continue to discuss this issue for the next few days. I
will communicate with you through Urbanth-L when we have more
No one is happy with the situation we find ourselves in. The Middle
Eastern Studies Association is meeting in SF at the same time we planned
to be there. Their Board voted to go ahead with the meeting, citing the
importance of their work to the current global situation and the fiscal
impossibility of the association or the members incurring additional
costs by breaking their contract with their hotel or moving to a
different venue. Our AAA Board chose a different solution. We now have
to figure out what to do with the obstacles that decision has produced.
Please don't reply at this point that you favor one or another of the
positions I outlined. There is nothing we can do with your information
right now. If you can think of other venues where SUNTA members can be
in same place sometime in the next six months, we would love to hear it.

Bob Rotenberg
President, SUNTA

Robert Rotenberg
Chair, Department of Anthropology
DePaul University
990 W, Fullerton Ave, Suite 2300
Chicago, IL 60614
email: rrotenbe at depaul.edu
voice: (773) 325-7460

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