AMHIG Celebrates New Leadership and Plans for Continued Success in 2020

AMHIG held its annual business meeting last week in Vancouver during the American Anthropological Association Annual Meetings. We have some updates and exciting plans for the coming year to share with everyone here.
  • After several years of service, Michael Duke has stepped down as co-chair of AMHIG. Erica Fletcher has stepped forward to serve with me as co-chair. We are extremely grateful for her willingness to serve and are very excited to move forward. Thank you Michael for everything you have done for AMHIG over the years. THANK YOU Erica for agreeing to co-chairing with me! I look forward to a successful partnership!
  • Erica is starting a Google group for our group and will be re-vamping the AMHIG website. PLEASE STAY TUNED as the google group will probably become our primary method of communication. Once the link is available we will share it here so people may subscribe.
  • After the success of the AMHIG-sponsored blog series, this year we would like to continue sponsoring blog posts by AMHIG members. We would like to work with an existing Anthropology blog (outlets mentioned were anthrodendum, Sapiens, this anthro life, and The New Ethnographer) and will be researching an appropriate partnership in the coming months.
  • Kristin Yarris suggested also starting an Anthropology of Mental Health podcast series. We all agreed using an existing podcast such as Anthropologist on the Street, Anthropod, or Sapiens would be better than trying to launch our own series. We will be researching and trying to find a venue over the next few weeks and months.
  • We will once again offer a travel award next year.
  • Other ideas we would like to pursue:
    • An AMHIG-sponsored roundtable on Trauma and ethnographic fieldwork building off the Anthrodendum series at the AAAs (Rebecca Lester, would you be interested in co-organizing?)
    • A Policy brief or statement on mental health in anthropology, particularly speaking to graduate student mental health (including important factors such as poverty, food and housing security, and toxic academic culture) –would love to know if anyone would like to work on this with us.
    • Reaching out the the Anthropologists Action Nertwork for Immigrant Rights (AANIR) for possible partnership and collaboration.
Stay tuned over the next weeks and months as we begin moving our agenda forward. We are very excited and energized and look forward to seeing what 2020 will have in store for AMHIG.
I think that is all for now! I hope everyone had an enjoyable break last week and wish an uneventful end of the semester.

AMHIG Travel Award Announcement

AMHIG Congratulates Ms. Emma Backe on receiving the first annual AMHIG Student Travel Award. Emma will be presenting her paper, “The ART of Survival: Psychosocial Care in South Africa’s Feminized Syndemics” at the AAA/CASCA meetings in Vancouver.

Emma Louise Backe is a PhD student in Anthropology at The George Washington University (GW). Her research focuses on the politics of crisis around gender-based violence (GBV) in South Africa, specifically the temporalities of care provided to survivors of intimate partner violence and the processes of psychosocial recovery survivors in Cape Town must navigate. In addition to her research, Emma also serves as a Peer Advocate in GW’s Anthropology Department to promote open dialogues about safety planning in the field, the emotional labor associated with ethnography, and cultivating consensual learning spaces. Emma is also a member of the Editorial Board of Feminist Anthropology; an Advisory Board member of Sapiens; and the Managing Editor of The Geek Anthropologist.


Anthropology and Mental Health Interest Group Student Travel Award

The Anthropology and Mental Health Interest Group (AMHIG) announces its first annual student travel award. The awardee will receive $200 and a certificate presented during the AMHIG business meeting at the American Anthropological Association annual meeting in Vancouver, BC.

To qualify, applicants must be:

a) enrolled as a student during the Fall 2019 semester;

b) a member of the Society for Medical Anthropology, and;

c) presenting a mental health-related paper, poster, or video at the AAA as the first author.

To apply, please submit your paper or poster abstract, evidence that the abstract has been accepted by AAA, and a brief statement (maximum 1 page double spaced) describing how attending the AAA meeting will advance your professional career.

Please send your application materials to Beatriz Reyes-Foster at The submission deadline is September 15, 2019.

Call for Papers: Trauma and Resilience in Ethnographic Fieldwork

Trauma and Resilience in Ethnography:

A Curated Blog Series

Beatriz Reyes-Foster and Rebecca J. Lester, curators

Sponsored by

The Anthropology of Mental Health Interest Group (AMHIG)



The Anthropology of Mental Health Interest Group (AMHIG) is seeking contributions for “Trauma and Resilience in Ethnographic Field Work,” a blog post series curated by Beatriz Reyes-Foster and Rebecca Lester to be published in Anthrodendum. We seek contributions from experienced ethnographers of all career stages and geographic specializations. Blog posts are approximately 1,000-1,500 words and written for a broad but informed audience. The posts are meant to provide authors with a platform from which to share their stories of emotional struggle or trauma in the field, but also to highlight the ways in which these struggles were met or overcome. This goal of this series is to highlight the reality of trauma and emotional stress in ethnographic fieldwork, as well as provide faculty and students with resources on best practices for emotional care prior, during, and after field work. This initial attempt to bring attention to the issue of mental distress in ethnographic field work seeks to include the experiences of traditionally under-represented people in anthropology, particularly people of color. We encourage contributions that engage with questions of social inequality, intersectionality, discrimination, misogyny, and racial, class, gender and other identities that impact ethnographic experiences abroad. All chosen contributors will be invited to expand their pieces into chapters for a future edited collection.


The Anthrodendum series abstract is below:


The proposed series of posts acknowledges the reality that ethnographic fieldwork can be, and frequently is, emotionally difficult for fieldworkers, who may experience either direct or vicarious/secondary trauma while in the field. Even under the best of circumstances, navigating a new field setting with little if any training on how to emotionally manage the many challenges inherent in fieldwork can be significantly challenging, and the effects of such experiences can be long lasting. Posts in this series will feature stories of both trauma and resilience (broadly conceptualized) from contributors writing across a wide variety of topical and regional specialties and representing a range of career stages. While giving a platform for contributors to share their stories, the purpose of the series is to highlight strategies and tactics that support resiliency: how did contributors deal with their experiences of trauma? What worked and what didn’t? What sorts of social and institutional supports did they use? The series will also contain information and resources for faculty advisors preparing to send students into potentially traumatizing situations.


Please send a 250-300 word abstract to Beatriz Reyes-Foster ( and Rebecca Lester ( by February 28, 2019.



AMHIG Business Meeting Minutes

Sorry for the delay in posting this.

Meeting Minutes: Anthropology and Mental Health Interest Group

Minneapolis, MN, 11/17/16


1)      AMHIG Conference- A few years ago we put on a very successful 1 day conference at American University prior to the AAA Meetings. Participants discussed whether we would like to do this again in 2017. We reported that this year, another SIG had carried out a half-day conference by piggy-backing on the existing conference rather than running a stand-alone meeting, as we had done. We discussed the fact that this approach would entail far less work than the one we used. We are currently in contact with the Society for Medical Anthropology to put this initiative into place. If we get the green light, the meeting will likely take place on November 28, 2017 in Washington, DC.

2)      Policy statement- The SMA encourages it SIGs to develop policy papers on issues of significant concern through its Take a Stand initiative. A number of interesting mental health issues were raised that would lend themselves to this type of initiative. However, given that the incoming Trump Administration’s specific policies regarding mental health and well-being were unknown, it was decided to table this initiative to our next meeting.

3)      Paper prize- We reported on our first paper prize competition. The winners were Whitney Duncan (University of Northern Colorado) in the Professional category and Philippa Fielding (University of Sussex) for the Student category. We will be submitting an RFP for 2017’s paper prize in the Spring.

Note: For those who can attend, we will hold a business meeting at the Society for Applied Anthropology Meeting in Santa Fe, NM.