Register now for 2015 SEA meeting

Registration is now open for the 2015 SEA meeting in Lexington, KY, April 9-11. Register here and submit your abstracts by December 15 to join us in discussing Technologies and the Transformation of Economies or other topics in economic anthropology.

Those who’ve attended SEA meetings in the past know that they are small and friendly events, with just one or two sessions at a time and a poster session attended by almost everyone at the conference. Getting a paper accepted means you will present to a room of interested and engaged attendees, with plenty of time to present and discuss. However, I’ve presented posters many times, and really enjoy the lively conversations around this format, too (comparable to other conference presentations – this is not the usual poster session). So if you’re on the fence, please consider submitting an abstract for either format, and enjoy the discussions and interactions of the SEA.

Photo by Seicer at the English language Wikipedia, used under a creative commons license
Photo by Seicer at the English language Wikipedia, used under a creative commons license


Image adapted from Kat N.L.M.

Call for papers: 2015 SEA conference April 9-11



Lexington, Kentucky

April 9th – 11th, 2015

Keynote Speaker: Professor Barbara Mills, University of Arizona

MEETING FORMAT The SEA meetings provide a rare opportunity for a focused and coherent program of presentation, with time for critical discussion in a convivial intellectual setting. Papers are selected for a program that allows 15-20 minutes for presentation and 15-20 minutes for discussion in plenary sessions over two days. Papers and posters from the SEA annual will be considered for publication in a special issue of the society’s journal: Economic Anthropology. Submitting a paper for the plenary sessions represents a commitment that you wish to be considered for inclusion in the journal. We encourage archaeologists, cultural anthropologists, economists, and other scholars concerned with the meeting theme to submit abstracts.

POSTER PRESENTATIONS The SEA “happy hour” poster session is an inclusive and well-attended event at each annual conference. Papers not accepted for oral presentation are automatically eligible for inclusion in the poster session. Scholars whose work may not fit the central theme of the meeting are encouraged to submit a poster. The SEA always welcomes posters on any topic in economic anthropology.  

TECHNOLOGIES AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF ECONOMIES From early iron forging, to ceramic monetary systems, to recent currency “creations” such as bit-coin; from gathering and hunting food harvesting technologies, to farming communities seeking cell phone based climate forecasting, to booms and busts of silicon valley and the digital age, technology has been ever-present in human economic life, past and present. Technology, whether prehistoric inventions such as the wheel, or 21st century wireless communication, intersects with social and economic life and transforms human experience.

In the ancient world technological innovations were linked to the intensification of agriculture to feed growing populations; they permitted the extension of trade routes; and they expedited the extraction and transformation of mineral resources. In many instances, technological transformations made the impossible possible, allowing for the effects of climate and geography to be mitigated for the purposes of food production. The Early Modern Atlantic World itself was the product of technological innovations spurred by economic competition between world empires. In the subsequent Industrial Age, the connections between technology and economic expansion intensified, contributing to a scale of socio-economic inequality not previously seen.

In more recent times, we see an explosion of interest in the use of new technologies to solve pressing and cross-cutting problems of social, economic and political development. Scholarly literature and popular media are replete with success stories: workers and freelancers generating higher revenues thanks to the availability of mobile phones; migrants wiring needed cash home using mobile banking and financial formats; entrepreneurs engaging in direct exchange with customers using online platforms and electronic payments and currencies; farmers using internet-based market price bulletins and mobile phones to negotiate for higher prices for their agricultural products; e-health using wireless applications to promote health services in remote and underserved areas; e-government initiatives to curtail corruption and red tape procedures; and smart mobs employing social media (websites, YouTube, twitter, etc.) to mobilize and escalate protests in times of political and economic crises (Rheingold 2003). These technologies are engendering new ways of doing business and innovative economic exchanges, changing practices of self-representation, diverse modalities of engaging the nation state and emergent “recursive publics” (Kelty 2008), and novel forms of collaboration, irrespective of space and time constraints (Latham and Sassen 2005).

However, these new technologies raise critical questions: are the uses of these technologies changing political, economic and social dynamics? Is the “information/knowledge society” an inclusive one that accommodates the needs and aspirations of the poor and the marginalized?

Without doubt social-cultural life, whether in the present age of the internet of things, or past mechanical eras, is marked by a rapid speed of technical innovation, and societies eventually take advances for granted and create normative conditions for their use. As Horst and Miller (2012) recently argued “what we experience is not a technology per se but an immediately culturally inflected genre of usage.” Consequently, the key for anthropology is to investigate these nascent technologies before they become “rapidly mundane” (ibid). This is important because it enables us to understand how technologies are changing human lives and cultures around the world, but also vice-versa: how cultural meanings and practices can change technologies to ensure that they enhance people’s lives and values rather than constrain or limit them.

We seek papers that explore different historical and spatial “sites” where technologies, economies and social-cultural life intersect in powerful ways. Potential themes for exploration include: the linkages between the historical development of technologies, economic systems, and social-cultural change; the role of technology in exchange and trade; livelihoods and technology; technological innovations, choices, and political economic strategies; information technology and economic development; ontological questions of economic life in the technological age, and methodological issues in the study of technologies and economies. The topic is inherently interdisciplinary, demanding diversity in temporal scale, analytical unit and theoretical orientation, and thus we welcome submissions from socio-cultural anthropologists, archaeologists, economists, geographers, sociologists, historians, and applied and practicing social scientists.


Abstracts of proposed papers and posters should be no more than 500 words. Abstracts are due no later than December 15th, 2014. Abstracts must include the following sections: problem statement and theoretical frame, methodology, results, and implications. At the top of your abstract, please indicate your willingness to present a poster if the organizers are unable to accommodate your paper in the plenary sessions. Poster sessions at SEA are taken very seriously, and most conference participants attend these sessions. In order to be considered for inclusion in the journal issue tied to this theme, please plan to have a complete, publishable-quality version of your paper ready at the time of the conference. Additional information for potential authors will follow.


WEBSITE for registration is COMING SOON!  Registration is $100 for members, $125 for nonmembers and $70 for students. Please note that refunds can be issued up to one month in advance of the meetings in the case that your abstract is not accepted.


Hsain Ilahiane, Department of Anthropology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506, hsain.ilahiane[at]uky[dot]edu, phone: 859-257-6920.

Marcie L. Venter, Department of Anthropology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506, marcie.venter[at]uky[dot]edu, phone: 859-257-2710.

More info on the meeting

Call for papers: SEA at AAA 2014

Start thinking about potential panels now for the December 3-7 AAA meetings in Washington, D.C. Last year’s AAA let us see the variety of economic anthropology in the AAAs, and we hope to see more this year!

The theme for the meeting, Producing Anthropology, offers a provocation to examine the truths we encounter, produce and communicate through anthropological theories and methods. This theme provides a rich context for the exploration of work produced under the broad umbrella of Economic Anthropology.

Susan Falls will be the Program Chair, and most submission deadlines are April 15, 2014. Submissions will be accepted starting Feb 16, 2014. More information is here.

Spring meeting: Keynote speaker and student funding announced

SEA is pleased to announce that Dr. Charles Hall will be keynoting our 2014 conference “Energy & Economy”. Dr. Hall is an internationally renowned expert on the meeting’s theme and is the author of Energy and the Wealth of Nations. Special thanks to the Anthropology and Environment Society for co-sponsoring the meetings and keynote!

We are also delighted to announce that SEA is able to provide partial support for a limited number of students to participate in this year’s Austin conference.  Please contact Cindy Isenhour (cynthia.isenhour [at] maine [dot] edu) and Tom Love (tlove [at] linfield [dot] edu) if you are interested.
The program is coming together well with many fantastic papers and posters. Contact us as soon as possible if you still plan to submit an abstract.  We hope to finalize the program in January.   Please see for more information about the meetings, registration and abstract submission.

Call for thematic SEA Conference Proposals (and Economic Anthropology journal volume)

The Society for Economic Anthropology (SEA) welcomes proposals for the theme of the spring 2015 SEA annual conference.

  • Due date for proposals: January 30, 2014 (for 2015 spring conference, and subsequent journal volume).
  • Send proposals to the editor of Economic Anthropology: Lisa Cliggett Lisa.Cliggett [at] (please put “SEA Conference Proposal” in the subject line).
  • Proposals will be voted on by the SEA Board in February, and announced at the SEA 2014 Spring Meeting in Austin TX (April 24-26, 2014).
  • Details about what to send:  a 500-word abstract, your title suggestion for the conference (and subsequent journal issue, see below), and the name(s) of the organizer(s).

Abstracts should lay the theoretical foundation for the topic and outline the various approaches authors can take in exploring the theme. (Recent themes include: Inequality, Cities, Greed, Tourism, Landscape, Cooperation, Disaster, Morality, Textiles, and Food).

Themes with broad appeal to all the subfields of anthropology, especially archaeology and cultural anthropology, as well as to economists, geographers, sociologists, historians and other scholars of the intersection of social and economic life, are especially encouraged. Co-organizers for the conference are welcomed, especially when co-organizers represent different sub-disciplines in anthropology, or other fields. To learn more about the Society for Economic anthropology, the annual meetings, and subsequent journal publication, see the SEA website: .

SEA’s new journal, Economic Anthropology, is published by Wiley Blackwell in conjunction with the annual meetings of the Society for Economic Anthropology (SEA).  The conference organizer (who becomes the editor of the given EA issue) selects the 12-17 best articles for this issue from more than 60 papers and posters at the conference. Following selection by the organizers, authors will have the opportunity to revise their article before it is sent to anonymous reviewers (identified by the SEA editorial board) for single blind review. For more information about the journal Economic Anthropology, please go to:

In addition to the role of EA issue editor following the conference, organizers are responsible for all aspects of the conference that do not relate to logistics. Everything about the meeting itself, and all the required recruitment, announcements, and follow up are responsibilities of the organizer. If you have questions about the specific tasks of organizers, please request the Organizer Responsibility Outline.

Although not required, conference organizers can propose a location for the meetings (this often happens when organizers’ have good support from their home institutions to host locally).  Please feel free to suggest a location for the meeting you propose.

Previous conference themes can be found here.