Because we are a large national organization, most of our activities occur at the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association. Please note that although one need not join the AAA in order to fully participate in the meetings, the conference registration rate for non-members is almost as high as it would be if one became a member and got the lower member rate. In other words, it makes little sense NOT to join if you plan to attend, because by joining you receive all sorts of other benefits, like access to job postings and journals through the Anthrosource database. When you join the AAA, you must also choose at least one of its sections, which is what we call the sub-disciplinary organizations like CAE. Please note that CAE offers an especially low student membership rate of $15, along with a $22 Associate rate for independent scholars/practitioners.
It is NOT imperative for you to have a formal place on the AAA program to participate in CAE activities. We know that many participants cannot receive institutional support for travel if they do not have a paper or poster accepted for the program, but if you can pay your own way, you may wish to participate less formally your first time around. And if you DO submit a paper or poster, be sure to consider applying for our Shirley Brice Heath New CAE Scholar Travel Stipend—applications are usually due in September.
Once you get to the meetings, the first important thing to point out is that virtually all CAE events and activities on the AAA program are completely open to any registered conference participants. This is true of the Board Meeting (even though voting rights are limited according to constitutional by-laws), and all other special events and activities, in addition to the regular paper and roundtable sessions. It’s also true of the Business Meeting, which is a vital, celebratory space for our organization.
Perhaps the most important and fruitful space for initially getting involved in CAE is the All-Committee Meeting, which is usually held on Friday or Saturday. The 15 committees are the spaces where participants (current or prospective CAE members) get together according to their topical interests, introduce one another, share their work, and informally brainstorm ideas for paper panels or other events at the following year’s meeting. Sometimes research projects or advocacy actions blossom out of these committees as well.
For graduate students and relative newcomers to CAE, there are a number of special events specifically designed to facilitate involvement. Each year, there is also a Mission Committee-sponsored Town Hall session, where we evaluate our progress toward our stated goals of promoting social justice, as well as discuss, debate, and possibly revise the mission statement itself. This would be a great opportunity to get to know other members of CAE and have your voice heard.
We pride ourselves on being a transparent, democratic, and inclusive organization, but we also know that we can always do a better job. If you have questions or concerns about our practices or activities, please bring them to the attention of anyone serving on the Board, which includes all officers and committee chairs. These concerns will get communicated to the Executive Committee for consideration.