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Role for anthropologists in HIV/AIDS crisis: Conference discussion

(November 2008) Two SIL anthropologists are contributing to this year's annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), which is being held November 19–23 in San Francisco, California. "The continuing role for anthropologists in the worldwide HIV/AIDS crisis" is the title of the High Table Session chaired by SIL anthropologist David Beine. Tom Woodward is co-leading the AAA Workshop on the SIL FieldWorks Data Notebook software.

The invited High Table Session, sponsored by the AAA Executive Program Committee, was organized by David Beine, an International Anthropology Consultant with SIL. Three discussants responded to an introductory keynote address by a distinguished speaker. Following that, the audience broke into discussion groups organized around indicated areas of interest. After a brainstorming session, each group reported recommendations, followed by an open discussion.

Participants in HIV/AIDS discussion

This discussion topic considered patterns and trends in anthropological work around HIV/AIDS, exploring the role anthropology can play in stemming the epidemic. While often viewed solely as a biomedical problem, HIV/AIDS epidemics are also rooted in social and cultural realities. Consequently, anthropologists make important contributions in reducing transmission rates and mitigating impacts. One challenge for anthropologists has been the way in which biomedical models dominate, to the exclusion of socio-cultural approaches.

Workshop: SIL FieldWorks Data Notebook

Data Notebook entry view screenshot Data Notebook entry view screenshot; click to view a larger version

Tom Woodward, International Anthropology Director for SIL, and Tim Wallace, North Carolina State University, led the AAA Workshop, "FieldWorks Data Notebook: A new software program for writing and managing fieldnotes in a digitized world inexpensively."

workshop provided a detailed tour of the free data-management software, and practical observations about using it in instructional and field settings. For beginning ethnographers, Data Notebook (DN) provides a framework for thoroughly documented fieldnotes. Seasoned fieldworkers find the data management both sophisticated and versatile. Tom Woodward helped design DN and has taught people how to use it since its release. Tim Wallace has used DN in four summer field schools and brought a practical perspective to the workshop.

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