AAA Session on Impulsivity: Call for Submissions

Hal Odden and I are putting together a session on impulsivity at this year’s American Anthropological Association meeting being held in New Orleans. If you are interested in being a participant, please email me at and Hal at as soon as possible. Please indicate your potential topic and/or paper title when you email us.

We want to examine impulsivity broadly, so we are looking for people working on a range of issues related to impulsivity, risk taking behaviors and sensation seeking. Hal plans to look at impulsive suicide in Samoa, and I will look at impulsivity and substance use among adolescents.

We encourage submissions from people working on risk-taking in different sociocultural contexts; maladaptive behaviors associated with impulsivity, including binge eating and bulimia, violence, and unsafe sexual practices; and broader theoretical issues that could be informed by a reconsideration of impulsivity, including embodiment, motivation, and agency.

The session will be broadly oriented by neuroanthropology, using ideas drawn from both psychological anthropology (examining individual-environment interactions) and biocultural anthropology (mixing theory and methods between two disciplines). This session will bring a theoretical and ethnographic sensibility to the role of impulsivity in people’s lives today. This person-centered approach, bridging biology and culture, encourages the circulation of ideas from critical and evolutionary perspectives.

Proposed papers could potentially look at:

-How the neurobiological processes underlying impulsivity develop within specific social and cultural contexts
-How impulsive behaviors are informed by local conceptions of personhood, motivation, and agency
-How ideas on sensation seeking and risk taking in psychology and public health can be fruitfully adopted in psychological and medical anthropology
-How we can build more experience-near and culturally sophisticated accounts of human desire, temptation, and compulsion
-How ideas about impulsivity can inform practice theory, embodiment and other related areas of sociocultural theory.

Please email us your proposed topic and/or title as soon as possible at and Depending on how many people respond, we might have to limit participation – we’d rather not, of course, but just a warning up front. A single session can have a maximum of seven people.

The AAA meeting will be held from November 17th to 21st, 2010, in New Orleans, and has the meeting theme of “Circulation.” More information can be found at the AAA conference website. We are planning to submit this volunteered session for consideration by the Society for Psychological Anthropology.

3 thoughts on “AAA Session on Impulsivity: Call for Submissions

  1. You should totally throw this session together at the last minute, then invite speakers off the street who are excited about it but have no formal training on the topic. Alternatively you could arrange the session as described here, then use dice to change the topic just before you begin speaking.

    Be sure to issue loaded Super Soakers and rubber bands to the audience at the door.

    1. Yes! Also, with the venue in New Orleans I suggest a field trip component for the session. Speakers on fire on Bourbon Street takes the conference experience to a different level.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s