2020 logo.pngSociety for Applied Anthropology 80th Annual Meeting
Albuquerque, NM - 
March 17-21, 2020 
Hotel Albuquerque

Cultural Citizenship and Diversity in Complex Societies

Lois Stanford, Program Chair 

Social scientists have long studied culturally diverse and marginalized populations in complex, stratified societies. We recognize the deep history of migration, both voluntary and enforced, and the role population movements have played in shaping national economies, political cultures, and cultural identities. Immigrants and refugees face great challenges in adapting to new societies, negotiating diverse identities, and responding to sociopolitical constraints to their societal participation. At the same time, indigenous communities struggle to defend their sovereignty and human rights in complex societies.  Globalization has greatly accelerated the external linkages impacting both indigenous communities and population movements. 

Traditional views of citizenship have placed greatest weight on formal membership (through birth or naturalization) that grants individual rights and the ability to participate in the political process. Scholars have argued for a more dynamic notion of cultural citizenship that recognizes the “right to be different (in terms of race, ethnicity, or native language) with respect to the norms of the dominant national community, without compromising one’s rights to belong” (Rosaldo 1994:57). Historically, national governments adopted different policies toward ethnic minorities, including both indigenous peoples and immigrants. Policies have ranged from France’s assimilation policy to Germany’s differential exclusion to the somewhat pluralist policies of Canada and the United States. Populist and nationalistic political movements may change these policies. Anthropologists are uniquely situated to examine cultural citizenship as a social process, one where different groups may be included or excluded. 

How do policies toward citizenship affect newcomers’ ability to access education, healthcare, economic opportunities, and other resources critical to survival? Can indigenous and aboriginal communities effectively defend cultural interests while negotiating citizen rights within a larger society? What challenges do host communities face in accommodating immigrants? Are so-called minorities, whether defined by race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or other cultural markers, afforded full cultural citizenship? Do applied anthropologists redefine their own roles to address the needs of marginalized communities, and can they provide them with social, economic, and political assistance? What are the implications of contentious discourses and practices for community institutions? How do we impart anthropology’s lessons about respect for cultural diversity to students?

Albuquerque offers the 2020 Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology a superb venue wherein to examine cultural diversity, history, and contested citizenship. Long recognized for its rich ethnic heritage and cultural tourism, New Mexico has struggled to shape a regional identity while recognizing its legacy of colonialism, cultural genocide, and discrimination against cultural minorities. The conference hotel is in Albuquerque’s Old Town, reflecting the city’s deep Spanish influence, which has benefitted from Italian settlers in the early 20thcentury and recent Mexican immigrants. On Tuesday, sessions, films, and speakers will explore New Mexico’s efforts to address its own multicultural citizenship through a wide range of topics, including Native American land and food sovereignty, human rights, food security, health issues, and cultural diversity through the arts. 

Program Chair: Lois Stanford, New Mexico State University, (lstanfor@nmsu.edu)
Annual Meeting Program Coordinator: Don Stull (stull@ku.edu)
Society for Applied Anthropology (info@sfaa.net); 405-843-5113