Anthropology graduate student organization's 10th annual conference Transformations 2023

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Date: March 4, 2023
Time: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Location: Purdy/Kresge Library Auditorium #110
Category: Conference

Transformations 2023 will be held at the Purdy/Kresge Library Auditorium on March 4th, 2023, from 10 am to 4 pm. The theme of the conference this year is Accessibility, and we have a special Keynote Speaker: Dr. Katherine M. Kinkopf, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Department of Geography and Anthropology at California Polytechnic State University, Pomona. Dr. Kinkopf is co-President of the Access and Disability Alliance Group, and she is a specialist in historical bio-archaeology, human skeletal biology, critical disability studies, and institutions of care and incarceration in the United States and Europe (Italy).  

Transformations is an opportunity for students to present their research to student peers in a conference setting. Participation in Transformations is open to all graduate and advanced undergraduate students who are engaged with anthropological perspectives in their research. Transformations has proven to be a convenient occasion for students to gain valuable experience with conference presentations, to network with students and professionals from within and beyond Wayne State, and, to integrate anthropological perspectives with those from other disciplines. Each presenter will receive feedback on their presentations in the form of a peer-led Q&A and discussion session at the end of each panel. This is meant to exchange ideas, foster discussions, and generate insights around our theme. There are no registration fees or costs required for participation. Students are welcome to present their research in various ways, including paper presentations, research posters, short films, or discussions. 

This year’s conference theme is accessibility, which we understand broadly as a topic to include issues of (dis)ability, access, equity, and other questions of inclusivity. “We have to recognize that disablement is not merely the physical state of a small minority of people. It is the normal condition of humanity” (Sutherland 1984:18). This conference wishes to recognize that accessibility is an important aspect of everyday life as it affects all of those around us and ourselves. Accessibility has become an important discussion in the sciences, academia, politics, and general discourse. Whether the discussions focus on access to learning, technology, events, cultural activities, and information or they regard the access to equipment, physical needs of others, or mental health access, the theme of accessibility will help drive the continued conversation about current problems and achievements, as well of future changes.   

Above all, accessibility is a social commitment. Accessibility as a theme is meant to convey the degree to which everyone, regardless of their age, gender, sex, culture, needs, or abilities, can fully participate in and enjoy social or cultural activities. It also wishes to show how the content that falls under the topic of accessibility is vast, meaningful, and both an independent and group concern. 

This theme will generate more anthropological insights by fostering a community that is dedicated to continuing conversations surrounding current problems, achievements, and future changes. As our world continues to recognize diverse ways of living, these insights can bring further awareness to the issues of access within anthropology as well as the broader public. Anthropology is a discipline known for reaching out to the public, helping with policy creation and change, advocacy, community engagement, and contributing to changing methods and practices. This conversation about accessibility will help encourage and enrich anthropology and its allied fields in the active mission of engaging in discourse and analysis, as well as supporting accessibility for all. 

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to: 

  • How has accessibility affected your work?  
  • Making museum and university artifact collections accessible to all people 
  • The importance of public archaeology in making the profession connect more with communities 
  • What methods have been helpful in navigating a lack of accessibility in your community?  
  • Ritual practices such as mortuary practice and accessibility of burial methods 
  • Issues of different abilities or inclusivity within anthropology  
  • Destigmatizing key words and phrases associated with mental health treatment  
  • Understanding potential problems with human-computer interactions  
  • The importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in anthropological theorizing and practice 
  • Creating and fostering environments in disciplines that support multiple physical abilities and addressing the practices and policies that do not support multiple physical abilities 
  • What new visions for the future have emerged in your work from having to creatively respond to a lack of accessibility, whether that be physical, mental, technological, or otherwise? 

Please submit an abstract of a maximum of 250 words if you are interested in presenting. Each presenter will be given ten (10) minutes to present their papers, with a fifteen (15) minute slot at the end of each session for discussion and questions. You also have the option to present a poster in the gallery area. Registration for presentations and attendance is free. Both Abstract submission and RSVP for the event will be available via a linked form. For abstract submissions, please include your name, email, preferred phone number, student status, affiliation, the format of the final submission, required abstract, and any other information you would like us to know. When filling out the RSVP for the conference please also include your name, email, student status, and affiliation. 


Submit your work for consideration via this form: or via email at   

Save The Dates  

  • Deadline for Abstract Submissions: February 11, 2023 
  • Decision Date: February 20, 2023 
  • Conference Date and Time: March 4, 2023, 10am – 4pm 
  • Presenter Timeframe: March 4, 2023, 9am - 5pm 


Blake Pierce
(313) 577-2935


March 2023