Par Emma Varley, Brandon University
Welcome to the Fall Issue of Culture on “Engaged/Engaging Anthropology”! And, as CASCA’s President for 2022-2023, my warmest greetings to all members!
My term as President began in May 2022 at CASCA’s Annual Conference at the University of Regina, at a time when crises of various orders were abating while others held fast, and new ones arose. For example, depending on where we lived and worked, COVID-19 was either surging or receding as a mortal threat – often in ways that impacted our studies, scholarship, and praxis. When I began drafting my presidential message to you in November 2022, I was in Pakistan, where my current research focuses on the increasingly politicized nature of medicine and public health. There, as much as here in Canada, it is abundantly clear that we are hardly free of the pandemic, no matter many governments’ proclamations that we have entered a “post-COVID” world. I finished writing my message during a stopover in Dubai, where the hazards posed by global warming are readily evident and rapidly escalating.
Many of us work in societies, near as well as far, which are struggling to keep pace with the changes occurring within and imposed on local social-ecological systems by global and globalizing forces, or are fast-approaching the upper threshold of adaptation and survivability in complex, even hostile, geopolitical and environmental terrain. Within and beyond the academy, CASCA members’ work documents the effects and aftermaths of these and a complex array of other national and international events and concerns, including conflicts between the Wet’suwet’en Nation, the Government of Canada, and Coastal Gaslink; the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc Band’s discovery of hundreds of potential children’s graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School; the #MeToo movement; the emergence of novel viruses like COVID-19 and resurgence of epidemics like polio, mpox (formerly ‘monkeypox’), and Ebola; and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
These realities demand not only our academic but also applied attentions, which can lead to recommendations that we are extraordinarily well-positioned to generate as anthropologists whose expertise spans the four fields: sociocultural, linguistic, archaeological, and biological. Our work is capable of powerfully exploring and critically evaluating the manifold impacts of many contemporary challenges and crises, especially as they disproportionately affect already vulnerable persons and collectives. Importantly and optimistically, anthropology allows us to also landscape and confirm communities and cultures’ resiliencies in the face of sometimes-seismic forms of change. By investigating, assessing, and highlighting our interlocutors, partners, and stakeholders’ positive adaptations, innovations, and lessons learned, anthropologists contribute invaluable knowledge that aids efforts to better respond to the complex present and prepare for the world yet to come.
Because of the vibrancy, promise, and applicability of our work as anthropologists, one of my primary goals as President is to increase CASCA members’ visibility by expanding our efforts to promote your activities and outputs, which are remarkable and many. Over the coming months, CASCA will introduce new ways by which we can spotlight and celebrate our members’ academic and applied endeavours, teaching, and labour. Such efforts reflect the Executive’s commitment to ensuring that CASCA fully and equitably affirms and represents the accomplishments — as well as the experiences and needs — of our members in Canada and around the world. So, please stay tuned to Culture and CASCA’s list-serv, Facebook, and Twitter accounts for calls for you, our members, to share with your Executive, fellow CASCA members, and the world in turn, the good news of your scholarly and professional updates and achievements!
By relation, I warmly encourage members to explore the support, collegial exchanges, and even also disseminative opportunities made possible by CASCA’s Networks and Groups, which do such vital and forwarding-thinking work, advocacy, and activism in each of their respective areas.
My work as President is made possible by a remarkable support system: I am indebted to Outgoing President Éric Gagnon-Poulin, Past Presidents Mary-Lee Mulholland, Pamela Downe, and Janice Graham, and Incoming President Monica Heller, for so generously guiding me on my journey with CASCA. My gratitude goes to the Executive – Alex Oehler (Communications Officer), Daniel Tubb (Treasurer), Rine Vieth (Anglophone Member at Large), Olivia Roy-Malo (Francophone Member at Large), and Deidre Rose (Secretary) — for their dedication to CASCA and its members. Last, but by no means least, I am grateful to Karli Whitmore for her incredible contributions to CASCA as Executive Director: Karli, you are key to ensuring our continuity and success as a national association!
In service and solidarity,