From the President

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.

From the Executive Director

Our Commitments – Making A Difference

Ed Liebow, Executive Director

At its core, our Association is a scholarly and professional society that brings anthropologists together to advance our collective understanding of the human condition and to apply this understanding in tackling some of the world’s most pressing problems. A good deal of professional satisfaction can be derived from the way in which our Association has drawn on its power to convene scholars and practitioners through our publications and meetings; amplify our members’ voices through outreach, engagement, and public education activities; and set standards for intellectual integrity, professional responsibility and ethical conduct through our extensive volunteer governance network.

In the past year, our Association has demonstrated its dedication to making a difference by:

  • Reaffirming our commitment to academic freedom
  • Affirming our commitment to shaping policy outcomes rooted in core values of mutual respect and equal rights
  • Offering specific contributions to policy solutions concerning
    • Humanity and climate change
    • Cultural heritage preservation
    • Reducing health disparities globally
    • Eliminating race-based and other forms of social injustice
    • Protecting the human rights of immigrants, refugees, asylum-seekers, and displaced persons

Of course, we do a number of other important things at the Association. We support professional development, highlight the remarkable professional accomplishments of our versatile and talented members, assemble materials that support teaching and learning, and monitor trends in enrollments, post-graduate employment, research funding, as well as legal and regulatory developments that affect research and teaching.

Our convening power has proven especially important in 2017. This power, which we use to bring people together, enables our members to share ideas on collective action that

  • people can organize through their home institutions and communities
  • the Association can undertake with the repertory of tools it has available
  • the Association can take by joining our voices with those of other sister societies equally concerned about whether the current direction in policies and practices is moving us towards a more just and sustainable society

In this last category of collective action, our collaborative partnerships, 2017 has been particularly relevant. AAA remains a governing member and active participant with the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA), which is diligently working to advocate for research support provided by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. COSSA is also working hard to increase public awareness about the importance of fully funding the Federal Statistical Agencies, on which we depend for high-quality data about American society and the world. We are also active participants in the National Humanities Alliance, which is advocating for public support of the humanities. The Alliance was instrumental in mobilizing Congressional support to protect funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute for Museum and Library Services. And this past year we joined with the Society for American Archaeology, the Society for Historical Archaeology, the American Cultural Resources Association, and Cultural Heritage Partners to support a collaborative effort to strengthen protections for important historical and archaeological features as well as traditional cultural landscapes.

As the year draws to an end, our Association remains financially strong, the impact of our publication portfolio is growing, our Annual Meeting and section conferences are robust, and our public education and outreach initiatives are helping to increase general public awareness of the remarkable contributions made by our members. All of these activities are carried out by a talented professional staff in the AAA office, under the wise guidance of our Executive Board and governance network. The year 2017 marked the end of Alisse Waterston’s term as Board president, and we extend our heartfelt thanks for her tireless service to the Association.