2017: A Year of Challenges and Accomplishments
At the heels of the 2016 US presidential election, the new year brought to the Association a deep sense of uncertainty. Nevertheless, AAA moved forward on several fronts. The key AAA activities this year were centered on: 1) public engagement and public presence; 2) publishing; 3) external relations; 4) internal relations: members, programs, meetings and sections; 5) governance and programming structures; and 6) AAA’s financial state.
Public engagement and presence
In 2017, AAA engaged over 40 advocacy efforts in keeping with the discipline’s core values and the Association’s established processes. These actions included developing Understanding Race After Charlottesville, affirming AAA’s commitment to UNESCO, demanding US Congress swiftly enact DACA legislation to protect undocumented youth, joining forces for the April 2017 March for Science, reiterating the Association’s condemnation of the Executive Order banning immigrants in multiple statements, and taking steps to protect science funding and academic freedom, including establishing the Rapid Response Network on Academic Freedom. Members participated in AAA’s Time to Take Action effort, and kept up with AAA’s activities via the AAA website, @AmericanAnthro (Twitter), the AAA Facebook page, and the AAA blog.”World on the Move: 100,000 Years of Human Migration,” AAA’s timely Public Education Initiative, made good progress despite slow-goings in securing needed financial support. In May, AAA hosted a policy workshop organized by anthropologist Eben Kirksey with support from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, bringing together over a dozen scholars to work on relevant policy issues. AAA’s ongoing efforts on Israel-Palestine included naming Rami Salameh of Birzeit University and the Graduate Institute in Geneva as AAA’s first Palestine-Israel Fellowship Fund for Travel recipient.
The thoughtful 18-month process of securing a new publishing contract was brought to successful conclusion in 2017, with AAA signing a five-year agreement with Wiley. Through December 2022, the terms of the contract enable the Association to support the “portfolio principle,” which means that all 20+ publications will be maintained regardless of the ability of any individual journal to be self-supporting. AAA’s publishing program, governed by the four values of quality, breadth, accessibility, and sustainability, provides opportunities for anthropologists to disseminate scholarly knowledge, receive valuable credit for their professional work by publishing in credible outlets, and participate in supporting this important community resource. Open Anthropology’s editors Jason Antrosio and Sallie Han agreed to remain for another three-year term, ensuring that this journal provides a way to open up anthropology in multiple ways, including bringing anthropology into the public conversation on critical issues. The Executive Board voted in May 2017 to authorize a review process of the AAA author agreement to ensure it meets the needs of the field, authors, and the publishing program/portfolio as a whole. The Executive Board also authorized the creation of a discipline-specific repository, a project under development by the Publishing Futures Committee (PFC, formerly CFPEP).
Services to members, the discipline, and the world
Trish Redeker-Hepner, Ramona Perez, and Keri Brondo helped launch AAA’s new Members’ Programmatic Advisory and Advocacy Committee (MPAAC), which officially began immediately after the Annual Meeting. AAA also began a process of evaluating the dues structure with help from a professional consultant whose findings will inform any new policy in membership dues.
A president’s working group developed the AAA Guidelines for Tenure and Promotion Review: Communicating Public Scholarship in Anthropology; a working group on Anthropology Non-Tenure Track Faculty Employment launched AAA’s online community; a platform was developed for contingent faculty; and the Association issued cutting-edge reports on the labor market for anthropologists.
AAA worked with Cultural Heritage Partners to monitor and advocate for cultural heritage safeguards and, with three other scholarly societies, formed the Coalition for American Heritage to protect funding for research and historic preservation. AAA strengthened relationships with sister associations, participating in 15 conferences or other events in the US and internationally.
Agustin Fuentes, 2017’s Executive Program Chair, organized the successful 116th AAA Annual Meeting. “Anthropology Matters” featured over 1,000 events, including AAA’s annual Native Welcome Ceremony, Paul Farmer and Jim Yong Kim in conversation, over 20 Executive Sessions, a series of late-breaking panels, and the presidential lecture.
Last but certainly not least, Treasurer Ted Hamann reported that AAA continues on solid financial footing, ensuring the successful provision of the wide array of member programs and projects, detailed in the Strategic Implementation Plan.