On Friday, April 24, more than 50 attendees gathered to hear the keynote—and kick off a weekend of stimulating talks and discussion—for the 3rdCascadia Seminar, “Ethnographic Adventures in Medical Anthropology.” Taking place every two years, the Cascadia Seminar brings together a diverse group of medical anthropologists: scholars at all stages of their careers, from graduate students to postdocs to full professors, and from a variety of institutions within (and beyond) the United States.
As a scholar who has been based in the UK for the last six years, and who has recently moved to UCLA, I relished the opportunity to meet new colleagues on the West Coast. But it was the particular format of the Cascadia Seminar—which made for lively discussions after each presentation, allowed for continued discussion throughout coffee breaks and meals, and facilitated new friendships and collaborations—that made this event so worthwhile, particularly as the traditional conference format is under increasing debate. Unlike larger conferences such as the AAA, where the volume of people and papers makes engaging with scholarship in a deep and meaningful way impossible, the seminar is intimate and single track. There are no concurrent sessions, and all participants attend all papers. Presenters are given 40 minutes to speak, and thirty minutes for discussion, giving the speakers ample time to flesh out ethnographically-rich and theoretically-shaped arguments, and allowing the listeners to provide meaningful commentary.
According to Janelle Taylor, one of the founding members of the event, the Cascadia Seminar emerged out of informal conversations among medical anthropologist colleagues at several universities in the region.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.