Should I Celebrate National Anthropology Day?

By Marie-Pierre Renaud

Tomorrow is the first ever National Anthropology Day.

As explained on the official page of the event, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) decided that February 19th is the perfect day to celebrate ”anthropology and anthropologists across the world through the declaration of National Anthropology Day”.

Why the 19th of February? Alex Golub already addressed the relevance of this date in anthropology in a post published on Savage Minds. Give yourself a treat and read his other posts on the topic, he is pretty excited about tomorrow! (Like a geek the night before a convention).

The date is not what I have doubts about. The word ”national” is what makes the whole idea of this celebration a little bit disappointing for me. I am not from the United States, and this is a national celebration. If the AAA intends tomorrow to be about anthropologists from around the globe, then why not make February the 19th the International Anthropology Day?

I can already hear you saying: ”but MP, it’s just a word, what’s the big deal?”. Well people, if I didn’t have the capacity to obsess over one word and the meanings it conveys, I wouldn’t be a social scientist. So please, bear with me here.

Changing just one word would make this day seems so much more inclusive and inviting. I know, the American Anthropological Association is based out of the United States of America. It may not be the association’s responsibility or even its place to declare an international anthropology day.

Their initiative is great, too! It’s fantastic that the AAA decided to take one day out of the year to focus on improving awareness about our discipline and to celebrate the amazing work anthropologists are accomplishing in various areas. We all know the general public could use more information on anthropology, as my colleagues Emma Backe, Rayna Elizabeth and I discussed in our series Anthropology in OuterspaceSo kudos, AAA!

Still, I’d like to be part of the party tomorrow without feeling that I am celebrating a strictly U.S.A. celebration.

So, should I just ask the Canadian Anthropology Society (CAS-SCA) to declare a National Canadian Anthropology Day? Should Canadian anthropologists, and anthropologists everywhere, adopt February 19th as our national anthropology day as well?

It’s worth thinking about. But for now, I think I will indeed celebrate anthropology tomorrow. In fact, I will celebrate french Canadian anthropologists and their amazing contributions to our discipline!

What are your plans? Tell me in the comments below!

Don’t know what to do to celebrate tomorrow? Savage Mind’s Alex Golub suggest you make it minty.

Have a wonderful National International Anthropology Day!

About Marie-Pierre Renaud

I am an anthropologist living in Quebec city, Canada. I specialize in native studies and anthropology of health. I am a geek. I founded and now co-manage The Geek Anthropologist blog. I am working on transforming my memoir into a book and journal articles. I like to knit while watching Star Trek. Reach out to me for collaborations!

There are 4 comments

  1. Daniel

    I have some sort of “expertise” regarding this. Check “”, where thousands of this sort of celebrations are detailed. I understand your point but:
    a) In Argentina, they have also “their” day:
    b) In Venezuela, too:
    c) Even London has “one”:

    It’s up to you which celebrate (or all them). Today is New Year for Chinese People (or just people with desires of a great party).


  2. Benedict Singleton

    For me, sitting in the cultural studies interdisciplinary badlands, it’s not something I can really get excited about. I can see how there is positive potential but on the other hand there seems to be a risk that just encourages the navel-gazing that seems to be an unfortunate hallmark of anthropology. The pessimist in me fears it’ll just end up being more examples of anthropologists reassuring themselves of their relevance rather than actually going out and demonstrating it. Cosmetic rather substantive action. For whatever reason, it doesn’t inspire me. I hope it works and in future years I feel a desire to participate :).


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