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Aug 25, 2020, 3:35:22 PM8/25/20

This is to engage applied anthropologists who are using an ethnographic methods to understand the 2020 Decennial Census. Those working directly on the 2020 Census -- i.e., enumerators, CFSs, and Census staff -- may have the most to contribute (and gain). 

The US Decennial Census is a constitutionally-mandated statistical survey which enumerates the entire United States population every ten years. Census results have shaped American's domestic policy and self-identity since 1790. The Decennial Census also forms the foundation for other studies and online-tools by the US Census Bureau.

This project is inspired by core concepts in cultural anthropology, in particular those in the ethnographer’s toolkit, such as “indigenous meaning”, "thick description” and “mediated truth”. It is believed that applying these notions to ethnography of the Census, will yield valuable insights for the eventual interpretation of Census findings. 

The roundtable is envisioned as a simple facilitated discussion where participants are invited to share findings and observations in a safe environment, one that is conducive to open discussion. If successful and mutually agreed, the findings of this discussion will be shared at an upcoming AAA or SfAA meeting.  We are tentatively calling this discussion roundtable an "After-Action Review of the 2020 Census: An Ethnographer's Perspective”. 

Please contact the organizers if you are a researcher with data and/or research interests in the 2020 Census, via Richard W. Morris, Ph.D., EM: , VM: 202-643-5323

Pamela Rao

Aug 30, 2020, 1:02:33 PM8/30/20
to morris.counts, WAPADC

Hi Richard and All,


This sounds like a great idea.  As anthropologists, we all rely to some extent on the Census data to inform our research and other activities.  An unusual confluence of factors, e.g., COVID, politics, postal issues, endangers the quality of the data.  As a Census Field Supervisor, I have direct experience with the impact of those factors on the day-to-day operations.  It would be interesting and informative to hear from others who are working on the Census this year, as well as from those who will  be using those data going forward.  I am sure that a lot of anthropologists, whether working in the field or by training, are working on the Census in many capacities.  I would be happy to participate, and hope that others join in also.


~Pamela Rao

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Mark Edberg

Aug 30, 2020, 3:23:47 PM8/30/20
to morris.counts, WAPADC, Pamela Rao
This is very interesting, important and timely. I strongly encourage you to submit one or more panels or even a potential "critical conversations" discussion for the 2021 SfAA meeting (I am Program Chair). Please let me know if you have any questions and I look forward to seeing/hearing more!


Mark Edberg, Ph.D., M.A.
Professor and Center Director
Department of Prevention and Community Health
Milken Institute School of Public Health 
Secondary Appointments in the Department of Anthropology and Elliott School of International Affairs
The George Washington University
(202) 994-3584

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