'Learning and Doing: Communities of Practice in Scalar Perspective'
October 15-18, 2014, Amerind Foundation, Dragoon, Arizona
Organizers: Andrew Roddick (McMaster U.) and Ann Stahl (U. Victoria)
The pioneering work of Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger into situated learning, in particular their concept of 'communities of practice,' has encouraged anthropologists in a renewed exploration of apprenticeship, enskilment and embodied material practice. Over the course of four days, a group of archaeologists, ethnographers, and historians (from Canada, the United States, Scotland, and Belgium) met at the Amerind Foundation to explore four questions of communities of practice across temporal and spatial scales: 1. How might the situated learning literature help us to navigate the scalar issues of time and space so essential in historical anthropology and archaeology? 2. How might we consider dimensions of power within communities of practice? 3. How might this theoretical scholarship help us to transcend a focus on singular domains of practice to explore the interrelationship among different learned and skilled practices? 4. What can these approaches offer to both broader scholarly engagements and to currently active communities of practice? The workshop explored empirically rich case studies of communities and constellations of practice in Africa, North America, and South America while debating the utility of centering situated learning in our analysis. Ultimately the sessions stressed the importance of learning communities and 'knowledges in motion' in our research of pasts, presents, and futures, resulting in a volume currently under review by the University of Arizona Press.