2020 AAA Annual Meeting Theme:

Truth and Responsibility

November 18-22, 2020

St Louis, MO.

Anthropology of Consciousness:

Call for Papers, Panels and Co-sponsored Sessions

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”

― Zora Neale Hurston

The purpose of anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences.

—Ruth Benedict


We are thrilled to announce the theme of the 2020 AAA Annual Meeting to be held in St. Louis, MO: Truth and Responsibility.

Truth and Responsibility” is a call to reimagine anthropology to meet the demands of the present moment. The imperative to bear witness, take action, and be held accountable to the truths we write and circulate invites us to reflect on our responsibility in reckoning with disciplinary histories, harms, and possibilities. To whom are we giving evidence and toward what ends? For whom are we writing? To whom are we accountable, and in what ways?

For those who study the anthropology of consciousness, the year 2020 has always held special significance as a potential time of radical transformations and shifting paradigms. How is our discipline affected by events unfolding in the world today? What responsibility do we have to the land, to the peoples, and to the field of nonlocal consciousness itself from which we take our own identities and make our living exploring?


It seems the “post-truth” and “anti-scientific” perspectives are threatening in the time of Coronavirus. But threatening to whom? And why? Does a return to indigenous epistemological forms mean we are entering a post, post-truth era which is as much a return as a progression? What do cultures of consciousness have to say about truth and responsibility as they relate to sustaining integrative, thriving societies? Is indigeneity a conscious relationship to the Other that can be adopted and expressed across cultural divides or is it inherent to the social and epistemological forms within which it arises? How can these elemental relationships be understood and respected in times of great cultural upheaval and change?


Across subfields, we find truths in patterns of human behavior, language, evolution, and cultural worlds. But what are the limits and possibilities of the anthropological imagination? What is the relationship of the imagination in regards to truth and responsibility? What can we learn about this from a perspective of consciousness? AoC’s special lens focuses on the transformation and empowerment of the individual from the inside out. This angle as it relates to post-colonial theory is particularly interesting because, although vital communal bonds are necessary for collective consciousness to take root in the self, powerful individuals, in turn, make for more effective agents of cultural change. The one is born from the other and subsequently nourishes, challenges and sometimes overturns it in return. How can we leverage this knowledge to support social wellbeing in times of crisis?


AoC has the responsibility to share and promote the unconventional and uncomfortable truths of sacred stories and ecstatic experiences that challenge conventional wisdom and the status quo. With our section’s emphasis on the first person exploration of Shamanic, Entheogenic, PSI, and transformative experiences, how can our understanding of the different frameworks for truth within cultures of consciousness challenge the normative, external, rational Western Ego that permeates so much of modern anthropological discourse? For instance, Western empirical objective knowing in contrast to more participatory, or inner, intuitive knowing. E.g. “Prajna”  in Buddhists contexts, or the concept of “Gnosis.”


The hope is that those who submit proposals will take up these questions and engage in collective thinking and imagining about the truths we hold, the truths we challenge, and the responsibilities we bear in co-creating a free and more equitable world. We want to provide a forum for people discussing different frameworks of responsibility within different cultures of consciousness. How is responsibility to self, family, tribe, community, nation, the natural world, all beings, no being, or various combinations, framed in these lifeworlds and why? All panel proposals should have a statement about how the panel has incorporated the goals of equity, diversity, and inclusion, and/or an analysis of power.


To submit, please follow this two-step process:

  • Please have abstract submissions to us ASAP. No later than by April 10, 2020.

You can email submissions here:

  • Submit papers, panels and general inquiries below. Please select AOC as a possible cosponsor or host for your submissions:

April 24: General Call for Papers Abstract Proposal START Deadline

April 29: General Call for Papers Abstract Proposal SUBMISSION Deadline


COVID-19 NOTE from the AAA:

If you register now and decide later not to attend due to COVID-19 concerns, we will refund your conference registration in full. Due to the extraordinary circumstances, we will not charge the usual administrative fee on refunds.