SEA Spring Meeting Contingency Plans in Effect

The Executive Board of the Society for Economic Anthropology has voted to cancel our Spring Conference “Economies of Convenience” at the University of Notre Dame (Apr30-May3). Despite this disappointing news, please click here to read some promising contingency plans.

While the extent and severity of COVID19 in the United States is still uncertain, we feel that the most responsible thing to do is to practice the precautionary principle — in the interest of our community, our families, and society at large. We also understand that many who were registered for the conference are now facing university-wide travel restrictions.

The executive board would like to extend our sincere and heartfelt thanks to Rahul Oka (chair), Samantha Zepponi, and Reiti Gengo – this year’s program and local organizing committee. The University of Notre Dame has hosted the SEA in the past, with great hospitality and generosity. It is a shame that we won’t get to enjoy their warm welcome this year, but we hope that we’ll find ourselves back in South Bend in the future.

Please note that the AAA will refund all conference registration fees within the next two weeks. We also understand that many airlines are allowing for reservations to be cancelled and rebooked within 12 months without penalty.

In closing, I include a note from Rahul Oka, Program Chair, which encourages us to think further about the theme of convenience, from the perspective of the COVID19 Global Pandemic and SEA’s cancellation.

“While this cancellation is sad and inconvenient for the SEA, the outbreak and its socio-economic and political aftershocks ricocheting across the world brings to light the precarity of an immense, globally-networked economy based on the consumption of services and goods designed to make everyone’s life more efficient, enjoyable, functional, AND “convenient.” If there is any consolation for the fear and loss of life to the virus, we have also seen the dramatic impact of decreased human activity (an inconvenience for some, a tragedy for many) on the environment in the span of just a month. The world will be different after this, in ways that we cannot yet predict. Ironically, this crisis is the time when economists have seemed to recognize that social interaction is the central underlying driver for economies. From the Washington Post, in the words of Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank: “The wheels of the economy can’t continue to turn as fast if the whole country avoids social interaction and tries to live online through the Internet. With less store traffic, merchants may have to actually cut prices instead of raising them.” – Rahul Oka 2020 SEA Program Chair (March 11, 2020)

Stay well everyone.

With my very best regards,
Cindy Isenhour (SEA President 2019-2021)