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.