We welcome our final guest blog by Caitlyn McNabb (Louisiana State U).
The third in a series of invited roundtable sessions, “Engaging New Orleans” focused on public art in this culturally diverse city. The roundtable engaged New Orleanian activists as well as anthropologists in an attempt to better understand the circumstances of the city.
This wonderful session was full of characters who are deeply rooted in the soil of New Orleans in every sense. I was unable to attend the first session and, after attending the subsequent two, I was disappointed to have missed the opportunity. This particular panel included anthropologists, artists, and local activists all generally working toward the same goal—rebuilding New Orleans.
Additionally, holding the AAA meeting in New Orleans was a unique opportunity for the panelists to convey their message. Though they can do this at any conference, anthropologists are able to actually engage in the community and experience first-hand the troubles of which they speak. The intent is to, hopefully, spread new understandings of the unique culture without the lens of political or media agendas.
Attending this session gave me the opportunity to really understand the work anthropologists do in New Orleans and how inextricable and complicated it is in terms of passionate activism and detached objectivity. However, should you disagree with every word said in panel, the entertaining banter and spontaneous singing was a good reason to attend. Like I said, characters.