AAA 2017, CFP: Anthropology Matters in Agricultural and Forestry Extension


Call for papers/discussants for the American Anthropological Association 2017 Annual Meeting in Washington D.C.

Anthropology Matters in Agricultural and Forestry Extension

Throughout the world, agricultural and forestry extension efforts constitute one of the major methods by which individuals, educational and research institutes, NGOs, governments, development agencies, and bi- and multi-lateral entities interface with local farmers and private landowners. Extension efforts frequently involve exchanges of knowledge, the promotion of new technologies, and efforts to modify ideas and behaviors related to improving agricultural production and managing forest resources.

Agricultural and forestry extension interactions occur at a variety of scales. In some contexts, farmers and landowners organize into associations that may represent or advocate for their respective constituencies at local, regional, or national levels. Extension agents frequently play a pivotal role in many of these exchanges, serving as a bridge between institutions and individuals or associations. Extension activities also frequently engender a high level of interdisciplinary interaction and collaboration between social and natural sciences.

The classic extension station represents a physical site of intervention, encounter, demonstration, and experimentation, with the goal of transferring subsequent activities to occur on farmers’ lands or landowners’ property. Similar dilemmas and opportunities that confront anthropologists working within or at the periphery of development paradigms exist within the frame of agricultural and forestry extension.

This panel explores anthropological contributions to the study of interactions between farmers and private landowners, associations, extension agents, natural and social scientists, and institutions researching or engaging in agricultural or forestry extension efforts.

A central unifying thread of this panel is that anthropology matters in extension; anthropologists have much to contribute when it comes to understanding and advocating for important perspectives in extension efforts. Such anthropological contributions may include bridging understanding between natural and social scientists, the promotion of human rights perspectives, advocating for participatory methods that can better understand and therefore better advocate for the needs and concerns of farmers and private landowners, contributions to policy formation related to extension, and many others.

If you are interested in serving as a discussant or presenting a paper for this AAA panel, please contact Andrew Tarter at: by April 2nd.

A 200-Year Historical Timeline (1816-2016) of 22 Hurricanes and Cyclones in Haiti – by Andrew Tarter

(excludes tropical storms, floods, and heavy rains).

22 Cyclones and Hurricanes in Haiti, by the numbers: July (1); August (4); September (7); October (6); November (4):

1816 - Unnamed cyclone  (18–19 November)

1909 - Unnamed cyclone (12 November)

1915 - Unnamed cyclone (12 August)

1935 - Unnamed hurricane (21 October)

1954 - Hurricane Hazel (11-12 October)

1963 - Hurricane Flora (3 October)

1964 - Hurricane Cleo (24 August)

1966 - Hurricane Inez (29 September)

1980 - Hurricane Allen, (5 August)

1988 - Hurricane Gilbert (11 September)

1994 - Hurricane Gordon (12-13 November)

1998 - Hurricane Georges (23 September)

2004 - Hurricane Ivan (10 September)

2004 - Hurricane Jeanne (18–19 September)

2005 - Hurricane Dennis (6-7 July)

2005 - Hurricane Wilma (17–18 October)

2008 - Hurricane Gustav (26 August)

2008 - Hurricane Hanna (1 September)

2008 - Hurricane Ike (6 September)

2010 - Hurricane Tomas (5 November)

2012 - Hurricane Sandy (25 October)

2016 - Hurricane Matthew (3-4 October)

Charting Charcoal in Haiti: Estimating and Understanding Annual Charcoal Production and Consumption at the National Level in Haiti – by Andrew Tarter

Charting Charcoal in Haiti: Estimating and Understanding Annual Charcoal Production and Consumption at the National Level in Haiti

This article originally appeared in Anthropology News (the official news source of the American Anthropological Association). It is now available here. I explain my primary method for estimating charcoal consumption and production in Haiti at the national level, and subsequent methods for contextualizing my findings.

Anthropologists engage subjects at various scales through a plethora of methods. We may solicit narratives from individuals through ethnographic interviews; we may study sub-populations through focus groups; or we may learn about village or regional-level trends by analyzing geospatial data, to name a few. Less frequently, anthropologists conduct research at higher scales. As a result, it can be difficult to properly contextualize data. I find myself facing this challenge as the principal investigator on a research protocol I designed, to estimate and examine charcoal production and consumption in Haiti at the national level—a project supported by the United Nation’s World Bank. The short length of the protocol—approximately one month!—makes the issue of contextualizing data even more challenging. In this brief post I explain how my primary method for estimating charcoal consumption and production in Haiti, and subsequent methods for contextualizing my findings, produce important knowledge for both developing tree-planting initiatives and correcting misinformed narratives of deforestation in Haiti.

Charcoal is the principal energy source in Haiti, used primarily in cooking. Urban Haitians mostly use charcoal, while, in rural areas, Haitians typically cook with wood. Charcoal enters Haiti’s largest urban center—the capital of Port-au-Prince—at the end of a long value-chain, transported by both vehicles (trucks) and vessels (boats). My primary method of estimating national charcoal consumption in Haiti, at first, seems parsimonious: some 30 research assistants will help count and tally charcoal vehicles and vessels entering the capital of Port-au-Prince, 24-hours a day, over two different one-week periods: one week of sampling in charcoal production high season and one week in charcoal production low season. Extrapolating these two sampling periods to the entire year will generate a ratio of tons-of-charcoal-consumed to population-of-the-capital. Using this ratio, I can estimate the tonnage of charcoal consumed in other secondary and tertiary urban areas in Haiti, based on their populations. Voila! The numbers show an estimate of the annual tonnage of charcoal consumed in an entire country.

However, numbers devoid of context are fairly meaningless. This is where anthropology comes in: it enriches these numbers. Giving meaning to these national estimates involves understanding the environmental, labor economic, and transportation dimensions of the entire charcoal value-chain—some of the subjects I explored in my doctoral dissertation on sustained charcoal production in rural Haiti. I will supplement the ethnographic data I developed in my dissertation with new data on the national features of charcoal consumption, which my current research team and I are collecting through interviews conducted at urban charcoal-receiving depots and wharfs with charcoal truck drivers, boat captains, and wholesalers and retailers.

Anthropologists create typologies based on what people think and do. I’m applying this concept to create typologies of charcoal vehicles and vessels, and of charcoal grades, which I am accomplishing by weighing every single bag of charcoal on a series of large, medium, and small trucks and boats. This will create weight averages for different grades of charcoal and weight averages for different types of vessels and vehicles entering the capital. We will apply these averages to the tallies of multiple enumerators stationed on major roads and wharfs controlling the entrance of charcoal into Port-au-Prince during the subsequent sampling periods.

The combination of these methods reveals much more than country-wide charcoal consumption estimates: it also tells us the locations of charcoal production in Haiti. For example, we may learn that 30 % of charcoal consumed in Port-au-Prince originates from Haiti’s southern peninsula, or that 10 % of charcoal originates over the border in the neighboring Dominican Republic. Even better, this research can show diachronic changes in the geospatial distribution of charcoal production, and how overall and relative urban charcoal consumption trends have changed by comparing these data to a similar study conducted 30 years ago in Port-au-Prince. These combined of methods with yield some of the most detailed, diachronic, national-level data on energy use, in one the most energy-independent countries in the world—Haiti.

This knowledge is not only crucial for informing several newly launched nation-wide landscape-level land management projects, including tree-planting initiatives; it may also help correct misinformed narratives of environmental destruction in Haiti, which mistakenly place the blame for the country’s deforestation squarely on the shoulders of rural charcoal producers.

Responding to Student Concerns with Responses from the Field – by Andrew Tarter (with Jean J. Schensul, Cathleen Crain, Barbara Rylko-Bauer)

Responding to Student Concerns with Responses from the Field

(With Jean J. Schensul, Cathleen Crain, Barbara Rylko-Bauer)

In this Anthropology News post for the American Anthropological Association’s (AAA) Committee on Practicing, Applied and Public Interest Anthropology (CoPAPIA), we highlight outcomes concerning anthropology students, which emerged from a series of panels organized at the 2016 annual AAA meetings.

In Memoriam, Anthropologist Sidney Mintz, 1922-2015 – by Andrew Tarter

In Memoriam, Anthropologist Sidney Mintz, 1922-2015

Anthropologist Sidney Mintz conducting fieldwork in Haiti

I never had the privilege of meeting Dr. Sidney Mintz face-to-face, but I did have the chance to correspond with him via email a bit. A high thrill of my lifetime was receiving a hand-addressed manila envelope from him (see photo below), containing several of his hard-to-find publications, which I had inquired about.

A hard-to-find article Sidney Mitnz graciously mailed to me.

After I thanked Mintz, he closed his response with:

Give my best Jerry [anthropologist Gerald Murray and the chair of my dissertation], would you please? tell him I’m going to be 90 in November, and I’m still trying to make trouble — with some success!


My last correspondence with Sid was in August 2015, when I inquired if he would consider doing an interview for the National Association of Student Anthropologists’ column in the American Anthropological Association’s Anthropology News publication. He responded:

Dear Andrew,

Let me see the questions so I can decide. I’m not snobbish, honest — just busy!


I sent the questions, but he never responded. No, he was not snobbish, and yes, Sidney Mintz was indeed a very busy man.

One is never great by being in proximity to greatness, but Sidney Mintz’s writing on Haiti has always been a great inspiration to me, and to many, many others. Rest in peace,‪ Sidney Mintz‬, and thank you for your contributions to understanding Haiti‬ and to anthropology in general.