SEA Annual Conference 2016

Risk And Resilience: Cultures, Societies, and Systems

Keynote speaker, Dr. Kathleen Galvin, Colorado State University

When: April 14-16, 2016

Where: University Of Georgia, Athens

Organizers: Bram Tucker And Don Nelson

REGISTER HERE (more information below)

Preliminary program /Call for papers / Paper and poster submission guidelines; Meeting format / Conference Registration, Fees / Accommodations / Travel / Regional attractions / Contact Organizers 

Special thanks:

Keynote cosponsors: University of Georgia President’s Venture Fund, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Dean, Department of Anthropology, Center for Integrative Conservation Research, African Studies Institute.

Organization assistance: Deborah Chasteen, Shelly Biesel, Ashley Block

Abstract selection: Nora Haenn, Shelly Biesel, Ashley Block

AAA support: Carla Fernandez, Vernon Horn

PROGRAM IN BRIEF (click on links to access abstracts)

(program in pdf format)

Thursday, 14 April

3:30-5:00         Graduate student event: National Science Foundation Cultural Anthropology Program Directors Deborah Winslow and Jeffrey Mantz discuss NSF funding opportunities for graduate students. Miller Learning Center room 214.

3:00-5:00         Registration and check-in, UGA Chapel

5:30                 Keynote Address, Dr. Kathleen Galvin, UGA Chapel.

7:00- 8:00        Keynote reception, Memorial Hall Ballroom, Memorial Hall room 211.

8:00                 Board Dinner, Baldwin Hall.

Friday, 15 April

7:00                 Bagels and coffee; Registration and check-in, Tate Student Center

8:10-8:30         Bram Tucker and Don Nelson, Introductory remarks, Tate Hall, room 135.

8:30-12:05       Session 1: How individuals, households, and communities cope with risk, Tate Hall, room 135. Chair: Lisa Cliggett.

12:05-1:30       Business Lunch and Schneider Student paper prize, Tate Hall, room 135.

1:30-5:05         Session 2A: How cities, nations, and financial institutions cope with risk, Tate Hall, room 135. Chair: Lynne Milgram.

1:30-5:05          Session 2B: Cultural understandings of risk and misfortune, Tate Hall, room 137. Chair: Alyson Young.

5:30-7:30         Poster session and reception, Memorial Hall Ballroom, room 211 Memorial Hall.

Saturday, 16 April

7:30                 Bagels and coffee; Registration and check-in

8:30-12:05        Session 3A: Risk in the marketplace, Miller Learning Center, room 248. Chair: Ty Matejowski.

8:30-12:05        Session 3B: Risks to health, safety, and identity, Miller Learning Center, room 250. Chair: Deborah Crooks.

12:05 – 1:30     Lunch on your own

1:30-5:05          Session 4: Resilience in complex human-natural systems, Miller Learning Center, room 250. Chair: Carolyn Lesorogol.

5:05-5:40         Final discussionMiller Learning Center, room 250

7:00-9:00         Banquet, The Graduate,



Conference theme:

Variability and change pervade the human experience. Farmers face crop loss due to too little or too much rainfall; herders monitor trends in disease risk and forage availability; individuals and households assess livelihood and security options before migrating to new countries or continents; small and large traders evaluate volatile market conditions; urban planners in coastal cities seek strategies to anticipate sea-level rise and hurricane-related storm surges; and industries strive to balance profits with the health and safety concerns of their workers and local communities. Scholars have approached risk and resilience from multiple perspectives: attitudes and preferences, buffering and coping strategies, forecasting hazards, risk perceptions, anxiety and worry, causal explanations for misfortunes, local and systemic adaptation, sociopolitical patterns of vulnerability, and policy interventions, among others. The range of engaged research domains creates both synergies and inconsistencies in concept definitions.

The objective of this year’s conference is to attract a cross-section of this diversity to promote creativity and novelty in the ways in which researchers think about their work. What, for example, might public health researchers exploring HIV/AIDS mortality risk and those seeking to understand social justice implications of industrial pollution learn from each other? Or, how might research on cultural interpretations of environmental risks complement work on climate change adaptation? What is the value of our conceptual insights in a world filled with inequitable and seemingly increasing risks? What lessons can we learn by understanding how people adapted to risk historically and in prehistory?

As the title implies, the program promotes a set of contributions with a range of focus that may include individuals, political, social and economic contexts, or research that works to bridge analytical scales. As an initial organizing tool we have divided areas of potential contributions into three categories of inquiry. Please know that these are not exclusive categories and we welcome contributions that don’t fit readily in what we outline below.


  • How has human culture evolved to perceive, anticipate, and cope with resource variability?
  • What are the roles of ecological and cosmological knowledges in explaining economic misfortunes and coping with their aftermath?
  • How well do theories of rationality (rational choice, bounded rationality, ecological rationality) handle cultural variability in risk attitudes and responses?
  • Why do people in different communities evaluate the risks of pollution, war, and new technologies differently?
  • How does culture influence perception of and response to long-term changes (sea-level rise) or stochastic variation (financial markets)?
  • How do people in different cultures learn to forecast future economic and agronomic outcomes?
  • Are there some predictable similarities in production, exchange, or investment strategies among peoples who live in highly variable versus stable environments?
  • To what degree is probability a culture-specific tool for thinking about risk versus a generalizable principle?


  • How do households, communities, and governments cope with mundane and extraordinary misfortunes?
  • Under what conditions do traditional institutions of reciprocity and redistribution effectively and equitably buffer risk?
  • In what ways does the market economy reduce risk or contribute additional risks?
  • How and how well have prehistoric and historic societies coped with variability and change?
  • How do regional and national scale political processes influence local-level capacity to cope with variability and change? What are some of the unintended consequences of these processes?
  • How do individuals and households use financial, human, and social capital and social networks to anticipate or cope with misfortune?
  • How do political and ecological forces create landscapes of vulnerability, and how do these change over time?
  • How do societies differentially assume public or private responsibility for managing financial, production, distribution, or other types of risks?
  • What are the roles of risk management tools such as flood insurance maps or economic risk assessments? How does this type of technical approach or language sculpt our understanding of risk?


    • When do risk adaptations lead to system-wide changes resulting in transformations of patterns of production, labor, exchange, migration, and consumption?
    • What are risk-related trade-offs amongst the capacities for managing system-level resilience?
    • What are the relationships between rates and magnitudes of change and the ability to govern complex adaptive systems?
    • How do narratives of system identities relate to perceived and priority risks?
    • What is going to happen to California now that they have no water? What is going to happen to the Arctic now that they have less ice? What is going to happen to mountains now that they have fewer glaciers? What shall happen to island and coastal economies with sea-level rise? What lessons can we learn from previous environmental changes like the Little Ice Age, 1200 – 1850?
    • How may anthropology help us anticipate the “unintended consequences” of regional and state level risk management?
    • In what ways do pluralistic approaches influence the management and resilience of systems?


Abstract submission deadline extended to January 18, 2016: submit via instructions below

Abstracts of proposed papers and posters should be no more than 500 words. 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.

Here is how to submit an abstract.

1.  Go to and log in.  If you don’t have a login id and password, make one (to the best of my knowledge you can do this even without becoming a AAA member).

2.  Once you are logged in, look to the left hand column, click on Meeting registration.

3.  Follow online prompts to register for the meeting (if we do not accept your abstract and you do not decide to attend, you may request that your registration fee be refunded).

4.  Once you are registered, AAA will automatically send you an email inviting you to submit an abstract.  Click the link and follow the instructions.


1.  Go to and log in.  If you don’t have a login id and password, make one (to the best of my knowledge you can do this even without becoming a AAA member).

2.  Once you are logged in, look to the left hand column, click on Meeting registration.

3.  Follow online prompts to register for the meeting (if we do not accept your abstract and you do not decide to attend, you may request that your registration fee be refunded).


The conference hotel is the Hilton Garden Inn (1-706-353-6800).  Call before 24 March 2016 and tell them you are with the Society for Economic Anthropology conference to receive the special room rate of $149/night.



The conference begins Thursday, April 14 at 5:30 pm with our keynote address by Kathleen Galvin.  Registration and check-in will begin at 4 pm.

Athens, GA is located 1.5 hours east of Atlanta.  If you are traveling by air we recommend flying into Atlanta and then taking the Groome Shuttle to Athens.  You can reserve a seat online:  It is recommended that you reserve a seat on the shuttle a few days ahead of time.  The Groome Shuttle will take you to the Hilton Garden Inn (or other area hotels) if you have proof you have a reservation there.


More information to come


Bram Tucker, Department of Anthropology, University of Georgia.

Don Nelson, Department of Anthropology, University of Georgia.

Image of Chicago Urban Garden by Linda is used under a Creative Commons license.